Case study 1
Improving educational attainment - Tower Hamlets Council
In 1990, only 8% of Tower Hamlets pupils left school with 5+ A-Cs at GCSE, and educational expectations for young people from deprived communities were low. The borough also had significant variations in income. The individual average wage was £65k, whilst a quarter of households were living on around £15k a year and 56% of pupils were eligible for free school meals. This stark difference in income was also reflected in pupils' school outcomes. The local education authority needed to overcome these by raising pupils' aspirations and ensuring that pupils achieved better school results and were able to develop the right knowledge and skills.
The Council gathered equality information about their residents to understand the barriers faced by pupils from different backgrounds, and to work out what they could do to improve the situation. It identified that the majority of underperforming pupils came from homes where English was not the first language. As a result, the Council focused its efforts on improving teaching practice and support in the classroom for those pupils. Schools also provided breakfast and homework clubs to help young people. Alongside this, a programme encouraging local people to become teachers strengthened local skills and provided young people with realistic role models from their local area. A great deal of effort was invested in creating a community of schools united around the common goal of raising attainment. Significant investment was made to encourage and strengthen parental involvement.
As a large percentage of residents were Muslim, local mosques were involved to encourage better attendance at school. In addition an Education and Business Partnership ensured that a corporate sponsor (including from firms in the city, nearby) joined the governing body of every school. Mentors have also provided support to pupils with activities like reading and helping to find work experience.
By 2012, 62% of children in Tower Hamlets left schools with 5+ A-Cs at GCSE. The actions taken by the Council have also improved the reputation of local secondary schools, which all received a 'good’ or 'outstanding' rating from Ofsted.
Source: Tower Hamlets Council official.
Case study 2
Increasing participation in sport by ethnic minority pupils at a primary school, South East of England
The former race, gender and disability equality duties helped this school to introduce a more thorough system of collecting information about different pupils. For example, they gathered information about the number of pupils taking part in sports activities in the school and identified the fact that there was low take-up of sports lessons amongst ethnic minority pupils, mainly children of Bangladeshi origin.
The school engaged with parents about physical education lessons and about sports kits. For example, the school organised a community day to discuss the benefits of children participating in PE lessons and they dealt with concerns about whether the sport kits were suitable for Muslim girls.
There has been an increase of 16% in participation in PE lessons by ethnic minority pupils. This is good for their health and it has increased their interaction with other pupils in the school, which promotes cohesion.
Source: ‘The equality duties and schools’. Ipsos MORI for EHRC, 2010.
Last updated: 19 Feb 2019