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Education plays a vital role in promoting integration and preparing our children and young people for life in a modern and diverse Britain.
All schools must promote community cohesion and are required to actively promote our shared values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance for those of different faiths and beliefs. Promotion of these values is part of Ofsted’s inspection framework and the department has published guidance to schools on promoting these important values as part of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Schools are also required to comply with the relevant provisions of the Equality Act 2010.
In 2016, the department also launched the Educate Against Hate website, through which we continue to provide free resources for teachers and school leaders to support their promotion of these values. This includes the department’s Respectful School Communities toolkit; a self-review and signposting tool to support schools to develop a whole-school approach which promotes respect and discipline, helping to combat bullying, harassment and prejudice of any kind.
The department also funds a number of specific initiatives to support schools in addressing these issues. This includes the provision of over £2.8 million of funding between September 2016 and March 2020 to four anti-bullying organisations, to support schools to tackle bullying – including projects focused on targeted bullying of particular groups, such as those who are victims of hate-related bullying, and projects which encourage children and young people to think about the importance of tackling prejudice and discrimination.
As part of our commitments in the Government’s Integrated Communities Action Plan, the department is also funding an expanded national school linking programme, which seeks to encourage meaningful social mixing between different types of schools and foster understanding of those with different backgrounds, faiths and beliefs. In the last year, the Linking Network has worked with over 540 schools, leading to over 22,500 pupils taking part in activities supporting integration.
As part of this same package, the department has also strengthened expectations for all new free schools on the promotion of community cohesion and integration, to make sure they are doing all that they can to ensure children and young people are able to participate fully in life in modern Britain.
The department is also introducing health education for pupils receiving state-funded primary and secondary education, alongside relationships education in all primary schools, and relationships and sex education (RSE) in all secondary schools. Mental wellbeing is a core component of the new health education curriculum, as well as being embedded in (RSE). Schools will be required to teach about a range of issues which will be relevant to wellbeing, including bullying, respectful relationships and online relationships.