Walsall pilots integration project ensuring diverse children mix
Schools whose pupils come from a single ethnic or religious community could be required to ensure they mix with children from other backgrounds, under Government proposals to encourage social integration.
The proposed Integrated Communities Strategy also calls on schools to teach British values and sets out plans to boost English language skills and encourage women from minority communities to find jobs.
A consultation paper launched by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid with the backing of £50 million of Government money – follows the 2016 Casey Review, which warned that social cohesion cannot be taken for granted in the multicultural UK.
Walsall is one of the five pilot areas, the others being Blackburn, Bradford, Peterborough and the London borough of Waltham Forest, which will develop local integration plans allowing new strategies to be tested as the programme develops.
“Successive governments have refused to deal with the integration challenges we face head on, preferring to let people muddle along and live isolated and separated lives.
“We will put an end to this through our new strategy which will create a country that works for everyone, whatever their background and wherever they come from.”
Among the proposals are:
- A new community-based English language programme, with a network of conversation clubs and support for councils to improve provision of tuition
- Personalised skills training to help women from “isolated” communities into work
- Measures to ensure young people have the opportunity to mix and form lasting relationships with those from different backgrounds
- Promotion of British values across the school curriculum
- Increased take-up of the National Citizen Service
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “We want to make sure that all children learn the values that underpin our society – including fairness, tolerance and respect. These are values that help knit our communities together, which is why education is at the heart of this strategy.
Think tank British Future released polling data suggesting a majority of voters would back schools teaching pluralistic British values (76%), more support to learn English (67%) and a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime and prejudice (79%).
British Future director Sunder Katwala said: “Integration isn’t just about British Muslims – it’s an issue for all of us.