ISSUE 50 - September 2011
Policy E-Newsletter


In this issue:
Local dialogue on education reforms to inform DfE free schools policy

Children’s Commissioner Inquiry into child sexual exploitation

Equality Act training sessions

ROTA roadshows mark new Stephen Lawrence trial

Children, young people and schools

Local dialogue on education reforms to inform DfE free schools policy

Community members and local education practitioners requested clarity on new education reforms, specifically how free schools will benefit disadvantaged pupils, at a ROTA community event on Thursday 15 September.

Participants also agreed on a number of recommendations to be taken forward to the Department for Education. Keep an eye on our website,, for more information on the outcome of these discussions.

Free school benefit to disadvantaged communities questioned

The free schools agenda is coming at a high price to some communities that already face educational disadvantage, according to interim research by Race on the Agenda (ROTA).

There are signs that local communities are already losing out.

Twenty voluntary organisations, providing services to vulnerable groups including refugees and homeless people for the past 30 years, are set to be displaced from Palingswick House by the West London Free School. Additionally, Ark Bolingbroke Academy, another new school, has had a rethink following criticism for initially drawing boundaries for its feeder schools that excluded a nearby primary school on an estate that has high levels of deprivation.

The full extent of the free school impact on disadvantaged pupils remains unknown. This is due in large part to a lack of information and transparency on free schools and the criteria by which successful applications are judged.

Despite a number of Freedom of Information requests, the Department for Education has yet to provide specific information on the application process, the reasons for progression/rejection of applications and the equality impacts of new schools.

In September, the first 23 free schools opened. The free schools programme is a new initiative by the Coalition Government that aims to give parents, teachers and others that are interested the chance to create new schools where they are unhappy with the choice of schooling available to their children.

In June, ROTA initiated research on free schools policy to determine if BAME communities that face inequalities in education are benefiting from the Coalition Government’s free schools project. It sought to examine the level of involvement of BAME communities as proposers, leaders, governors, staff and pupils in successful and unsuccessful free school projects; and ascertain the degree to which equality is considered in the development and delivery of education services through free schools.

ROTA, however, faced barriers in conducting the project due to restrictions being placed by the Department for Education on the amount of information available in the public domain about free schools. Consequently, we were unable to produce concrete findings as to whether BAME communities are engaging in free schools, and whether equality is being proactively considered in service. We did find, however, that there are signs of potential inequality emerging, which need to be explored further.

In particular, in September 2011 we reported the following:

  1. A number of instances have been identified where successful free school projects are having a negative impact on vulnerable BAME communities. It has been impossible to determine if such detrimental impacts are widespread and systemic due to restrictions on the information about free schools that is in the public domain.

  2. It is not possible to tell the level of involvement of BAME communities in free schools due to lack of transparency on free schools, with the little information available unable to answer key questions about who is in charge of the free school and what their specific policies are. The limited information that is available from free schools indicates that particularly disadvantaged BAME communities are not engaged as proposers, governors and staff of many free schools.

  3. It is not possible to tell the degree to which equalities are being considered in the planning and development of free schools’ services due to restrictions by the Department for Education on the information about free schools that is in the public domain. The limited information that is available from free schools indicates that, while schools are making positive statements about equalities, this is not being followed through in policy and practice.

It was ROTA's concern about risks that the Coalition's free schools project could make existing educational inequalities worse that led to us initiating our free schools research. Similar policy initiatives in the US and Sweden have led to ethnically and socio-economically segregated school systems in many local areas, with huge gaps in the quality of education.

Read our latest press release about Free Schools here. To find out more about our Free Schools Monitoring Project please contact Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer on e: or t: 020 7842 8531.

On 5th September Dr Elizabeth Henry, ROTA’s Chief Executive was interviewed by Henry Bonsu on Colourful Radio.

Children’s Commissioner Inquiry into child sexual exploitation

ROTA invites our members to contribute to the Office of the Children’s Commissioner 2011 Inquiry into children’s experiences of sexual exploitation linked to gangs and groups. As a member of the advisory group to the Inquiry, ROTA will be feeding in findings from our Female Voice and Violence project, highlighting the impact of serious youth violence on girls under 18. We will also submit evidence from our recent work with MiNet, detailing the impact of reduced public funding on child abuse levels in Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. If you are aware of emerging or undocumented issues of relevance to the Inquiry, please contact Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer, ROTA, on e: or t: 020 7842 8531.

Social Mobility and Child Poverty Review - call for evidence

The Government has appointed Alan Milburn as Independent Reviewer of Social Mobility and Child Poverty, pending the establishment of a statutory Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission next year. The Commission will be issuing its first report to Parliament in Spring next year.

ROTA believes more consideration should be given to understanding and responding to the ‘ethnic penalty’ within policy making related to child poverty.

Certain groups of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) children and young people are overrepresented among the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups in our society, facing greatest health inequalities, poorest educational outcomes and so on. The link between ethnicity and socio-economic disadvantage is not straight forward. Higher poverty rates among BAME groups are not simply related to the higher proportions of families which we know are at higher risk of poverty. Research has shown there is an ‘ethnic penalty’ associated with poverty. That is, measurable factors which we know are linked to differences in poverty risks – such as employment status and family structure – alone cannot explain ethnic differences in poverty. There are additional, ‘unexplained’ differences, which are linked to ethnicity.

Not enough consideration has been given to understanding and responding to this inequality within policy making related to child poverty. As such, if you work with BAME communities that face socio-economic disadvantage we encourage you to use evidence from your work to inform this review.

To find out more please see here. The closing date for submissions is 16th October.

If you would like support form ROTA in doing this please contact Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer on e: 020 7842 8531 or e: To find out more, please follow this link.

In February, ROTA responded to ‘Tackling Child Poverty and Improving Life Chances’, the Government’s draft child poverty strategy. We urged Government to identify the ‘ethnic penalty’ as contributing to poverty of BAME individuals within the child poverty strategy and to take appropriate measures to address it. Our response can be read here.

To find out more please click here. The closing date for submissions is 16th October.

Criminal justice and mental health

Equalities in criminal justice and mental health - one day training session

On Tuesday 15th November, ROTA will be delivering a one day training session in Croydon for organisations working at the intersection of mental health and criminal justice. Discrimination and inequality in health and criminal justice are key policy areas for ROTA and despite numerous reforms, BAME communities continue to face a number of issues including disproportionality in treatment of prisoners, access to services and workforce representation.

This one day training session will look at requirements under the Equality Act, with a particular focus on race equality. The session will use relevant case studies on how the Public Sector Equality Duty and specific equality duties can be used to promote race equality. For more information, please visit ROTA’s webpage.

Equality Act 2010

Government sets minimum guidelines for equality performance

The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 came into force on Saturday 10 September, after debates in the House of Commons on 11 July and the House of Lords on 6 September.

It is the aim of the specific duties to promote better performance of the Equality Duty by requiring public bodies to publish (1) equality objectives, at least every four years (by April 2012) and; (2) information to demonstrate their compliance with the Equality Duty, at least annually (by 31 January 2012 and April 2012 for schools).

The specific duties have been implemented to help to ensure that public bodies are transparent about how they are complying with the Equality Duty and accountable to the people and communities they serve. Further details about the Equality Duty and specific duties are available on the Home Office website. Follow ROTA’s work on the Equality Act here.

ROTA Training

Equality Act training sessions

Introducing the Equality Act 2010 and using the public sector Equality Duty to promote race equality.

ROTA is delighted to join forces with RAMFEL, Asian Women's Resource Centre, Lewisham Refugee Network (LRN) and Hounslow Tamil Community Centre to offer free training on the Equality Act 2010.

The Training sessions will take place across the following boroughs:

  • Brent, 18th October 2011

  • Hounslow, 20th October 2011

  • Lewisham, 1st November 2011

The sessions will look at what a voluntary organisation needs to know about the Equality Act 2010, with a particular focus on race equality. The session will offer an introduction to the Public Sector Equality Duty and provide information and case studies on how voluntary organisations can use the Public Sector Equality Duty and specific equality duties to promote race equality.

For more information contact or book a place here.


National news

UN Committee urges Government to put race equality back on the agenda

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has issued its recommendations on actions the UK government should take to promote race equality in the UK.

The Committee’s examination of the UK government’s policies on tackling ethnic inequalities took place last month and ROTA is pleased that many of the UN’s recommendations reflect the concerns highlighted by our sister organisation, the Runnymede Trust in its report to CERD and its lobbying activity in Geneva. ROTA contributed to Runnymede’s work on CERD.

Please follow this link to read the UN's recommendations. Please visit the CERD section of the Runnymede Trust’s website to find out more about CERD.

Racist Incidents fall by seven per cent in 2010/11

A Government publication "Racist incidents, England and Wales, 2010/11" on racist incidents reveals that the number of racist incidents recorded by the police in England and Wales decreased by seven per cent from 54,872 in 2009/10 to 51,187 in 2010/11. A “racist incident” is any incident, including any crime, which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person. The findings document also includes a table showing the number of racist incidents by police force area in 2010/11, together with comparisons with the previous two years.

ROTA roadshows mark new Stephen Lawrence trial

ROTA is planning a number of local discussion events in partnership with ROTA Patron Richard Stone to coincide with the start of the trial into the murder of Stephen Lawrence this November. The discussions will focus on progress made in achieving race equality since the 1999 McPherson Inquiry into Stephen’s murder.

The new trial in November 2011 will commence 15 years after a 1996 trial acquitted one of the accused, Gary Dobson, of murder. The period between Stephen’s death in 1993 and this new trial has witnessed a range of legislative attempts to confront institutional racism.

Richard Stone, author of “the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry from the Inside”, was heavily involved in the Inquiry as well as the Inquiry into the death of David Bennett in 1998 following his restraint in a psychiatric unit.

The roadshow will launch with a roundtable on 23 November at the House of Lords. Be on the lookout for more information about the local roadshows, which will be available in future newsletters and on our website soon.

To find out more, contact Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer on e: and t: 020 7842 8531.

Member news

Free London Met master classes on mental health, race & culture

The over-representation of black people among those diagnosed as ‘schizophrenic’ and among people who are sectioned and given compulsory treatment with drugs is well known. To many, mental health services in the UK are not meeting the needs of BAME people. If you are interested in learning more about the cultural diversity of approaches to mental health and how to achieve change in how people are treated, email to book a place. More information on the course can be found here.

Treat women in prison fairly, MPs urge

A cross party group of MPs has urged Ken Clarke, Justice Secretary, to address the plight of women in prison. Not enough has been done to address the mental health needs of female defendants or to put an end to disproportionately punitive sentencing for female defendants, according to the group.

To back the call to reform the treatment of women in prison, sign the petition here.

Afiya Trust online survey: How are the cuts affecting you?

The Afiya Trust is assessing the impact of spending cuts on Britain’s black and minority ethnic communities. They are especially interested in how the cuts have affected health and social care service delivery to BME communities, and voluntary sector and community organisations. Share your views on the impact of the cuts here.

Young Stars choose peace

A group of young people in Newham called the Young Stars have pledged to reject all forms of violence and bring the voice of the vast majority of peaceful and positive young people to the fore.

Choose peace. Support their pledge here.


Race on the Agenda
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76 Shoe Lane London EC4A 3JB
Tel: 020 7842 8533 Fax: 020 7842 8535





About the newsletter
Our policy newsletter provides a monthly update on developments under our three policy priorities – health, education and criminal justice – as well as from our policy projects which fall under these areas. It also provides a more general update, from ROTA and MiNet, on London policy developments which are likely to impact on BAME communities.