Diversity and Multi-culturalism

It is a common perception that the more ethnic minorities and home languages there are amongst a school’s student population, the more demands will be placed on teachers, and the less individual help all students will receive. I have also heard English speaking parents claim, that in a school with lots of children who have English as a second language, their child will be held back.This is almost certainly not the case.

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  • A multi-cultural school will often have a diverse curriculum and a wide range of extra-curricular activities. For example, it could mark festivals and celebrations across the religious spectrum. It could provide Turkish lessons and classes in Caribbean drumming.
  • EAL students can often improve the learning opportunities of all students.
  • Every school should have an Equal Opportunities’ Policy. It should be accessible upon request. However, such a document is worthless unless it is applied in the school, and you as a parent need to see it in action at first hand.
  • I have found that in schools where there is a genuine multi-cultural mix, when there is no dominant race or culture in each class, students really do learn to be tolerant, because they have no other choice. In this situation, any child who is ‘different’ from the rest, for example, a middle class child in a school which  is predominantly working class, or a homosexual boy, is often just accepted as another one of the many minorities in the community. Children in this situation are used to difference. Every child will be ‘different’ to others at some time in their school career, so the better able the environment is to cope with that difference, the better time every child will have.
  • In schools where there is a numerically dominant ethnic group, and very small minorities, it may be a cause for concern if your child is in the minority. However, you need not necessarily worry. If the school has a strong and effectively applied equal opportunities’ policy, and therefore the minorities are well provided for, then sometimes the minority students can be in an advantageous position. If the minority is very small, then often other students do not recognise it, because they are not threatened by it.
  • In a school with two predominant, potentially conflicting cultures, there is sometimes volatility. A school in this situation needs a strong equal opportunities’ policy rigorously applied, otherwise, a cause for concern may arise for parents.
  • Undersubscribed schools could take more refugee students than other schools. LEAs will allocate students to a school which has places available. The transitional nature of the school intake becomes a concern. Refugee children are the most likely to move on to another school before their secondary schooling is complete. This creates instability in the learning environment.

Further Information

Ofsted

The ‘Information about this school’  section will include details about the ethnic breakdown of the student cohort.

Prospectus

The prospectus may include an ethnic breakdown of the student cohort.

Open Evening/Visit

The school’s equal opportunities’ policy should be available on request.

 Summary




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