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ISSUE 53 - July 2012
Policy E-Newsletter


In this issue:
ROTA’s education submission to the Liberal Democrats Race Equality Task Force

Prime Minister announces support for families

Equality Act update – PSED review

Changes to family migration rules and NGO responses

Two vacancies at ROTA

Children, young people and Education


To find out more about ROTA’s work on education or to contribute please contact Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer, on or tel 020 7842 8531.

Return of O-levels: Will Michael Gove to get rid of GCSEs in exams shakeup?

It seems the latest big change to education being proposed under the banner of reforms by government is the replacement of GCSE exams with a more traditional style of exams modeled on the old O-levels. The implication could be a much more rigorous exam system with less emphasis on continual assessment and course work.

Under the old system, pupils judged more able were assigned to sit O-levels (GCE), while the bulk sat CSEs. The proposed change was signaled in an internal education department document leaked to the Daily Mail on 21st June.

The education secretary, Michael Gove, has already scrapped the modular element of GCSEs and his education white paper in 2010 signaled a major reform of the exams. While government has not confirmed the Daily Mail’s story, Gove has previously expressed a desire to return to the more traditional way of teaching a subject for two years followed by exams. Responding to a question about the Daily Mail’s story in the Commons, Gove said that he would be publishing a consultation paper in due course.

The Liberal Democrats have indicated that they would seek to block such proposals.

ROTA is concerned the limited assessments being proposed would only capture the progress of a very particular type of learner. We need a system that enables all learner types and not just those capable of committing large amounts of knowledge to memory to reach their full potential and a system where there is equal investment available to education for all types of learners. This change would be a step further away from such a system. It is also likely to further entrench the two tiered nature of our current system is likely to cause further upheaval within an education system which is already overloaded.

Additionally such changes would have important implications for BAME pupils. There is considerable evidence that many teachers stereotype BAME pupils, perceiving black boys in particular as less academically able. As a result the changes to exams could see many bright students being entered for lower level exams, limiting their future academic opportunities. With the old system, the lower level qualification was widely considered to be inferior, with a lower quality of further education service available to those who undertook it.

ROTA will follow this story as well as educational reforms and keep you updated through this e-bulletin.

ROTA’s education submission to the Liberal Democrats Race Equality Task Force

The Liberal Democrats’ Race Equality Task Force was commissioned by Nick Clegg MP to identify effective measures to tackle inequality, discrimination and under-representation affecting BAME communities and individuals.

The group are in the process of compiling a report about race equality in education, the early years and career guidance. The aim of the report is to identify key issues surrounding race equality in these areas and to make subsequent policy recommendations to try and address the issues.

In early June, ROTA submitted evidence to the taskforce about race equality in education in London. To read our submission, please click here.

Prime Minister announces support for families

In May the Prime Minister announced a new support programme for families which included:

  • a digital service for new parents, with timely information via email and texts as their pregnancy develops and their child grows;

  • free parenting classes for all parents of children aged five years and under in three trial areas;

  • relationship support for first time parents in four trial areas of the country from this summer.

ROTA was pleased to note the involvement of the Race Equality Foundation, a leading race equality organisation, as a key delivery partner in the free parenting classes. Children’s early years are a crucial time. We feel support should also be made available to parents of older children. One of the key findings of ROTA’s Shaping the Future: Race and racism in 21st century Britain seminar series was that parents struggle to support their older children to overcome some of the particular challenges they face as residents of disadvantaged inner London boroughs, such as lack of employment opportunities, gang activity and serious you violence. Participants called for additional support for such parents via grass roots community organisations. Over the coming months ROTA will progress the seminar series in exploring these particular support needs and how they can be addressed.

Further information will be available soon.

To find out more about the government’s new programme of support for parents please click here.

New research on ‘the Experiences of Black Students in Higher Education’

Elevation Networks research study ‘Race to the Top: the Experiences of Black Students in Higher Education’ was published by the Bow Group in April 2012. The study explores the experiences of Black students from African and Caribbean backgrounds within Higher Education and the challenges faced in gaining employment.

Research conducted by the Institute for Public Policy Research in 2010 found that ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected by the recent rise in unemployment. This pattern can also be observed within the graduate market. Indeed, Black graduates are three times more likely to be unemployed than white graduates within six months of graduation and, should they find employment, Black graduates are expected to earn up to nine per cent less for the same work within five years.

The ‘Race to the Top’ study further investigated the causes of these disturbing statistics and makes a series of policy recommendations.

To download the report please click here.

Update – the Mayor of London’s Inquiry into education in London

In April ROTA responded to the consultation on the interim report from the Mayor of London’s Inquiry into education in London.

The Inquiry, which is running from November 2011 until September 2012 is exploring some of the critical challenges facing London's primary and secondary schools.

In our response to the interim report we welcomed the Inquiry as a positive response by the Mayor to some of the deficiencies within the capital’s education system. We also welcomed the Inquiry Panel’s acknowledgement to the different educational opportunities, experiences and outcomes for different BAME groups. We expressed concern about the lack of emphasis played on the role of racism in educational disadvantage and consideration given to the duties on public bodies with educational responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010. We also expressed concern about the level of engagement of BAME communities in the Inquiry and have since written to Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture, Munira Mirza, raising our concerns about the consultation process.

To find out more and to work with us in responding to this Inquiry please contact Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer on email or tel: 020 7842 8531.

To read the Interim Report from Inquiry Panel please click here.

To read ROTA’s response to the consultation on the Inquiry Panel’s Interim report please click here.

ROTA’s alternative inquiry into education in London to launch soon

ROTA's latest issue of Agenda, produced to coincide with the GLA's Education Inquiry, is set to launch soon. This alternative inquiry into education in London presents views from London’s BAME sector, young people and parents on some of the critical challenges facing schools in the capital from a race equality perspective and reports from ROTA’s Shaping the Future: Race and racism in 21st century Britain seminar series. Visit our publications webpage for further details about this and all our reports and publications.

Shaping the future: Race and racism in 21st century Britain was planned to follow the retrial into Stephen Lawrence’s murder. It brought together 300 representatives from across the voluntary and community sector. The seminar series focused largely on education in considering what progress had been made against race inequality in London since 1993.

Criminal justice and mental health

New Report by T2A

In late May, The Transition to Adulthood (T2A) Alliance, released a new report identifying a more effective approach for young adults (18-24) involved in the criminal justice process. From a range of pilots, research and policy work carried out over the last three years, a strong evidence base has been formed by T2A which has distilled ten Pathways from Crime. The report outlines ten recommendations for a more effective approach and calls for a greater number of liaison and diversion services for young people with mental health problems towards treatment, and for better arrangements to be put in place to manage the transition between child and adult services for vulnerable young people.

ROTA welcomes the timeliness of this report and for the much needed attention given to pre-arrest provision and support which demonstrates that by diverting young people away from the criminal justice system at an early stage offending can be reduced. The report also goes some way to acknowledging that specific attention should be offered to young adult women and to address the overrepresentation of BAME young adult prisoners. It is noted that lessons should be learned from the YOI estates about the reduction in numbers of children in custody.

Ministry of Justice's consultations on effective community sentences

The Ministry of Justice has consulted on a range of proposals which it feels will radically reform the way in which sentences served in the community will operate. A consistent theme throughout the consultation is that wrongdoing should result in punishment thus emphasis is placed on increasing the punitive element of sentences. Whether or not increasing the punitive element of sentences will consequently lead to an increase in public confidence is debatable. From some of ROTA’s research (Restoring Relations Project) the opposite seems to be the case within the area of hate crime.

ROTA supports and has contributed to a response by the Criminal Justice Alliance which advocates for the use and promotion of community orders especially as an alternative to short term custody. Notwithstanding, the government consultation was especially weak in the area of equalities, in particular race and disability. The equality impact assessment (EIA) was also critically weak in areas; specifically its assessment of policy proposals and its exploration of their likely consequences for BAME groups, and in its analysis of the victims of crime. Further information will soon be available on the Criminal Justice Alliance website.

Latest Stop and Search data

A recent report released by JUST West Yorkshire has highlighted the prevailing and concerning disproportionately in stop and search figures. The figures indicate that despite 12 years of debate and government initiatives since the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry the differential treatment of BAME people by the criminal justice system remains. As JUST have noted, for example, Black people in West Yorkshire are around 4 times more likely to be stop and searched than a white person. Similar patterns of differential treatment are also evident across London. In spite of this disproportionality, as commented elsewhere by Runnymede Trust (Criminal Justice Vs Racial Justice), BAME people continue to be over-surveilled and under-protected within all stages of the criminal justice system. The full report by JUST can be found here.

Equality Act 2010 update and Training

Equality Act update – PSED review

The government has decided to bring forward its review of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) from the original planned date in 2015. The review of the PSED was announced by the Home Secretary on May 15th 2012, as part of the outcome of the controversial Red Tape Challenge spotlight on equalities. The review also combines a planned review of the general ‘due regard’ equality duty.

The PSED places a duty on bodies exercising public functions to consider the impact of their decisions across nine protected characteristics, including race. Those who are deemed to be exercising public functions must show due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations.

Given the PSED only came into force on 5th April 2011, ROTA is concerned about not only the early timing of the review, but the speed of the review which will make meaningful engagement problematic. ROTA fears this review when considered alongside the reduced role of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and government plans to repeal key provisions within the Equality Act (including the proposed removal of section 138, a questionnaire procedure allowing individuals to gather information to help prove discrimination claims) appears to be an attack on equality.

Tamil oral history project

TOHP film vignettes to hit ROTA website and Facebook in late 2012

In 1958 the Tamil oral history project’s (TOHP) first UK story began with an unlikely journey from Colombo to Brixton. In a twist of irony, riots in these two capital cities were the (dis)order of the day, bridging the experiences of minority ethnic communities across continents and oceans.

Almost fifty-five years later, Tamil-speaking people are still making the long journey from Sri Lanka to the UK. Over the past year, TOHP project volunteers have been collecting the stories and memories of this diverse agglomeration of Tamil-speaking people, and their descendants, from Sri Lanka. Over twenty, of the forty-plus, life stories have been documented to date. Video and audio excerpts will be made available in a virtual archive on the ROTA website in late 2012.

Refugee Week spotlight on Tamil-speaking migrants in West London

The Tamil Community Centre and the Tamil oral history project celebrated Refugee Week 2012 with a series of events in Hounslow in mid-June. Over fifty community members attended the TCC’s annual Refugee Week event for refugees and migrants of all backgrounds at Hounslow Council. TCC members, young and old, kicked off the week-long festivities with a striking visual and aural display of traditional South Indian and Tamil dance and music.

The following weekend, nearly twenty young Tamil volunteers participated in day two of the TOHP-hosted photography and identity workshops. Organisers were fortunate enough to call on the considerable skills of Bolivian-born photographer Vania Gonzalvez to support volunteers to explore identity through photography. According to one volunteer, “I chose to take pictures that represented Britain and Sri Lanka because I am proud of both.” Among the many features of modern Tamil life in Hounslow depicted by the young people included the importance of family, friends, hobbies, places of worship and more. Images and stories will be shared by young people in an exhibition in autumn 2012.

West London Mental Health Conference catches first glimpses of Tamil oral histories

The TOHP participated in the West London Mental Health Trust’s first-ever Promoting well-being in the Tamil community conference on 9 May. The contribution was in the form of a short film on the experiences of five Tamil-speaking migrants from Sri Lanka. The film, entitled Neither Here Nor There, was made with the help and assistance of the Tamil Community Centre. It highlights the considerable resilience of many of those who left conflict in Sri Lanka to settle anew in the UK. For more information, visit the TCC’s Facebook page.


ROTA Events and Training

FVV Local Events

In September ROTA will host a number of local events with a focus on the Female Voice in Violence Project. The events will focus on parents and young people and will explore gaps and solutions in prevention and intervention related to girls affected by gang association. If you are a parent or young person and want to attend a local event about girls affected by gangs please contact Rahana Mohammed on email or tel: 020 7842 8531.

More details will be available on our website soon.

National and Regional news

Changes to family migration rules and NGO responses

On 11 June 2012 the Government announced changes to the Immigration Rules for non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) nationals applying to enter or remain in the UK on the family migration route. Some of the changes include:

  • introducing a new minimum income threshold of £18,600 for sponsoring the settlement in the UK of a spouse or partner, or fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner of non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationality, with a higher threshold for any children also sponsored; £22,400 for one child and an additional £2,400 for each further child;

  • publishing, in casework guidance, a list of factors associated with genuine and non-genuine relationships, to help UK Border Agency caseworkers to focus on these issues;

  • extending the minimum probationary period for settlement for non-EEA spouses and partners from two years to five years, to test the genuineness of the relationship;

  • abolishing immediate settlement for the migrant spouses and partner where a couple have been living together overseas for at least 4 years, and requiring them to complete a 5 year probationary period;

  • from October 2013, requiring all applicants for settlement to pass the Life in the UK Test and present an English language speaking and listening qualification at B1 level or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages unless they are exempt;

  • allowing adult and elderly dependants to settle in the UK only where they can demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK, and requiring them to apply from overseas rather than switch in the UK from another category, for example as a visitor; and

  • restricting family visit visa appeals, initially by narrowing the current definitions of family and sponsor for appeal purposes, and then, subject to the passage of the Crime and Courts Bill, which was published on 11 May 2012, removing the full right of appeal against refusal of a family visit visa.

Migrants’ Rights Network is opposing the measures and has published a briefing on the proposals. The British Institute for Human Rights (BIHR) has issued a press release, published a parliamentary briefing and a template letter for NGOs to send to MPs (see below).

Click here for announcement on UKBA website

External news, events and training

Update about the London Borough Grants Scheme

London Councils recently consulted on specifications for the next set of services to be commissioned through the London Borough Grants Scheme. The services, which will be commissioned in April 2013, will include: homelessness services; services to prevent violence against women and girls; services to tackle poverty by promoting access to employment and training; and services that provide support to London's voluntary and community sector. ROTA submitted a response which is available here focused on services to prevent violence against women and girls and services to provide support to London’s voluntary and community sector.

While the funds available through the London Borough Grants Scheme have been significantly reduced over the last few years, it remains an important source of support for many vulnerable Londoners.

To find out more please click here.

Final specifications will be published in early August 2012 when organisations will be invited to apply to the London Borough Grants Scheme.

To find out more about the work ROTA has been doing over the last few years to help ensure this grant fund is continued and benefits London’s most marginalised BAME communities, please visit the consultation pages of our website,, or contact Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer on 020 7842 8530.

London Assembly Committees request your suggestions

The new London Assembly Committees will shortly be launching new investigations and have asked citizens to suggest topics. You can send your suggestion in here, as well as find out more, including how to suggest a question for the Mayor and how to contact an Assembly Member.

Take part here.

Race Equality Question Time’ – 19 July 2012

The Runnymede Trust and One North West, in association with the Liverpool International Slavery Museum, are holding a ‘Race Equality Question Time’.

The event, taking place in the Liverpool International Slavery Museum and will take the format of the BBC’s ‘Question Time Show’, with all questions focused on the theme of race equality in the North West.

Attendees will be able to pose questions to the following panel:

  • Andrew Stunell MP (Minister for Race Equality, Liberal Democrat MP for Hazel Grove)

  • Stephen Twigg MP (Shadow Education Secretary, Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby)

  • Esther McVey MP (Conservative MP for Wirral West)

  • Earl Jenkins (Unity Youth)

  • Chair: Amina Lone (One North West)

The event is on Thursday 19 July and is free to attend.
Refreshments will be served after the event.

EHRC research on stop and search

In June 2012, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published research underlining the need for faster progress on stop and search.

The Commission has joined with the Association of Chief Police Officers to call for faster improvements in the police’s use of stop and search. It has published new research which builds on the Commission’s ongoing work on stop and search showing the extent of the progress which some forces need to make.

The new research looks at how police forces are using stop and search powers under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. It found that some of the police forces in England stop and search a much higher proportion of Black, Asian and mixed ethnicity people than others in their community.

Get Started...Journalism Workshop

Wednesday 18 July 2012, 10am-4pm, The Unity Centre. Church Road. Brent

  • Are you interested in writing, but not sure how to start?

  • Would you like to develop stories about your local area?

  • Do you like the idea of seeing your words in print?

If the answer is yes, then the Get Started...Journalism Workshop is for you. A partnership between Fair Share Brent and Words of Colour Productions, participants will work with an experienced journalist and have the opportunity to contribute to a new community publication and website

For more information about the workshop, contact Joy Francis on 020 7288 6255.

Two vacancies at ROTA

Project Manager

£31,148 (PO1 – 33, fixed term one year contract) 5% non-contributory pension (after six consecutive months), 37.5hrs p/w and 26 days annual leave.

Healthy, Mobilised and BAME is a social action project funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund which aims to improve the mental health and well-being of BAME people.

ROTA and its partners are recruiting a Project Manager to lead on the overall logistics of the project including all monitoring and evaluation and the production of a project toolkit.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 11 July 2012.

Project Officer

£27,945 (PO1 – 29, fixed term one year contract) 5% non-contributory pension (after six consecutive months), 37.5hrs p/w and 26 days annual leave.

ROTA has recently received funding from the City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s Charity, to recruit a Project Officer to fully manage a two year project to support frontline voluntary organisations to improve their equality policies and procedures and increase collaboration around holding public authorities to account.

The closing date for applications is Friday 13 July 2012

For more information and application pack on either of theses posts, please visit our website here.




Race on the Agenda
c/o Voluntary Sector Centre, International Press Centre
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 on London policy developments which are likely to impact on BAME communities.