Case study Organisation: Bolton Sixth Form College Type of FE provider: College Focus on: Equality and Diversity (Race)
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Celebrating Cultural Diversity Summary of activity
Set-up and implementation
An example of recognising cultural diversity within the community and how a college has implemented practical measures to promote good relations and community cohesion.
The college has, for several years, had a very effective Equal Opportunities Policy. In 2006/07 it won the Association of College’s Beacon Award for the promotion of race equality. The ‘Celebrating Diversity’ project arose from its annual review of equal opportunities and its findings on the differing levels of achievement of ethnic groups in the college.
Background and strategic drive for activity Bolton Sixth Form College was set up in 1998 and is very proud of its multiracial community. The town itself is one of the largest in England, with a population of 265,000. Although relatively affluent, Bolton has pockets of significant deprivation, with the BL1 and BL3 postcode areas among the poorest in the country. In 2006/07, over 70 per cent of the college’s students were from these areas. Bolton is home to the country’s fastest growing university and is the North West’s fifth largest employment centre. The college therefore occupies a vital role in ensuring its students are aware of diversity and have a good understanding of different communities as they embark on life after sixth form.
The project aimed to encourage students and staff to develop their understanding and tolerance of different cultures and faiths and to create greater community cohesion. The college identified that, for many students, this would be their first experience of a multiracial environment, as many were from secondary schools that had a dominant racial group. It had already produced a paper version of an equal opportunities
booklet for new staff and students. However, following a visit to Luton Sixth Form College, Bolton’s Equal Opportunities Manager felt that the college needed to produce a booklet similar to one produced in Luton – namely a glossy and informative publication which would promote a welcoming image of the college. The booklet had input from both the Bolton Hindu Forum and the Bolton Council of Mosques to ensure accuracy. It also drew on the views and comments of staff, students and members of the college’s Equal Opportunities Committee, with final sign off from the college principal. The booklet is now in its fourth edition and its focus has shifted from celebrating diversity in the college, to celebrating what the different college communities have in common.
Obstacles faced At first, the booklet tried to explain the different home, family and cultural lives of members of the college. This proved to be too stereotypical and was scrapped from future editions. In later editions, a section about the origin of surnames to include all communities in the college has been extended. There is also a section about communities other than the dominant faiths, including those who have no faith, to make the booklet more inclusive. Staff are now more involved in the booklet, after having limited input in the early editions.
Impact and achievements The booklet was widely circulated and had further exposure with articles in the Bolton News and Asian Leader. It also had a boost through distribution at a fashion show at the college. The college received letters of commendation from the Prime Minister as well as from a local university and secondary schools. More recently, the booklet has been combined with a ‘British Day’ at the college, where staff and students discuss what it means to ‘be British’. This is an excellent opportunity for students to get to know each other better and respect their peers’ faiths and cultures. On a practical note, the college believes the booklet led to an increase in reporting of racial incidents and also contributed to reducing racial tension, as students were pleased to be able to see the results of their involvement in the booklet.
Links to other equality areas The publication of the booklet kick started a range of college activities to encourage debate about equality and diversity issues: • An equality conference was held in conjunction with Oldham College.
• The college held staff training days to link the initiative to teaching and learning issues, with sessions for new staff through induction. • A website devoted to race equality issues and sharing good practice was developed: www.diversitynetwork.org.uk. • Tutor group activities using the booklet encouraged students to engage with staff and discuss the issues. • Equality commitments from staff and governors were displayed prominently around the college. • Assemblies to explain and discuss the issues raised by the 7/7 attacks were presented, together with representatives from the Bolton Council of Mosques and the College’s Equal Opportunities Committee. • The college distributed the booklet to feeder schools and the local community. • The college works with secondary schools and the Local Education Authority to encourage debate and greater understanding about racial equality.
Links to legal requirements The ‘Celebrating Diversity’ project has helped the college to improve community cohesion and promote good relations between different racial groups. This has helped the college to meet its legal obligations under the third strand of the Race Equality Duty, as set out in the Race Relations Act 1976 (as amended). Extending the booklet to cover other equality areas has also helped to meet similar legal requirements in relation to disability and gender equality, and will help the college to prepare for the anticipated changes to legislation that are outlined in the Equality Bill.
Next steps Four local secondary schools and at least one other sixth form college will be involved with the new edition of the booklet, further extending good practice between the college and its feeder schools and partners. The website www.diversitynetwork.org.uk will also be developed further by the college.
“A clear focus on promoting cultural diversity, highlighting the need for continuous improvement.” The Workforce Race Advisory Group
Provider contact Bob Hindle Assistant Principal (Teaching and Learning) Telephone 01204 846215 firstname.lastname@example.org Find out more about the work of The Workforce Race Advisory Group: www.lluk.org/3151.htm.
Contact Lifelong Learning UK 5th Floor St Andrew’s House 18-20 St Andrew Street London EC4A 3AY Ref: E&D/FE/07 2009/02
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An example of recognising cultural diversity within the community and how a college has implemented practical measures to promote good relat...