In order to develop a cohesive and successful society it is important to help children understand and appreciate diversity, so that every child can succeed and fulfil their potential and become responsible, active citizens in the future. Community cohesion is a cross-curricular theme that touches on subject areas such as RE, PSHE and Citizenship.
Since September 2007 schools have had a duty to promote community cohesion. This was introduced via The Education and Inspections Act 2006.
The DCSF (now Department of Education) produced guidance on the duty to promote community cohesion (pdf) for schools in 2007. Any school that has been inspected by Ofsted since September 2008, has also been specifically judged and graded on the contribution they make to community cohesion.
In September 2010, the coalition government announced that the inspection framework for schools will be streamlined, to focus on four main areas, and that areas such as community cohesion would no longer be specifically inspected. It is not known when this may come into effect but in the meantime schools will continue to be inspected on community cohesion.
In addition, the statutory duty on all schools to promote community cohesion is still in force, and equalities issues and their links to the promotion of social cohesion remain important.
Guidance for schools
The Partnerships Team in Children's Services launched Ealing's own guidance for schools in 2009. The Ealing guidance on community cohesion (word) was fully updated in October 2010 in the light of schools experiences and the government announcement. A toolkit has been added which includes suggested audit, action planning and evaluation tools for staff and governors. This can be used as it stands or adapted to fit your own schools requirements.
It is intended that this updated guidance and new toolkit will be used by those schools who may be inspected before the inspection framework changes. In addition it will also act as a useful starting point for all schools in their thorough self - evaluation of their work around community cohesion.