I am pleased to be invited to be one of the judges of the Inclusivity Award 2012 of the Accord Coalition. The details of the criteria and how to apply are set out on Accord Coalition's website as below. If you know of any school that is working to promote inclusive communities please encourage them to apply.
"The Accord Coalition’s Inclusivity Awards are open to all schools in England and Wales. At its core is the belief that schools thrive when they have an inclusive and tolerant ethos based on shared values. The awards will be judged by a distinguished panel of experts from a variety of different political, professional and religious backgrounds.
The judges are especially interested in the way that schools address issues of religion and belief, both inside the school and through relationships with local, national and international communities. While the approach to different religions and beliefs will be the focus for judges, it may also be helpful to mention how the school’s inclusive ethos guides its policies on ethnic, cultural and socio-economic differences, as well as gender, age, disability and sexual orientation.
Ofsted describes the features of a school with an outstanding contribution to community cohesion as:
“The school has made an important and beneficial contribution to promoting community cohesion in its wider region or even nationally. Its planned actions to promote community cohesion are underpinned by an effective analysis of the school’s context (including faith, ethnic and cultural, and socio-economic factors). The school’s evaluation of its actions shows a significant impact on its own community. Learners have a strong sense of common values, integrate actively with learners from other groups, and are respectful of others’ differences. Learners themselves make a strong contribution to the promotion of equalities and the elimination of prejudice and discrimination.”
Our two key criteria
We agree with Ofsted, but we go further in two important ways. Firstly, we believe that many schools promote inclusion, cohesion and equality as a core part of their school ethos, and it is those schools that we want to hear about. We want to recognise fact that shared values shape the way that the schools sees themselves, and the way that they are seen by the community.
We therefore would like to see evidence not only of individual projects but also the strategic vision and school ethos behind them. Furthermore, we want to celebrate schools that nurture active citizens who are confident in themselves, tolerant and respectful of others and keen to make a difference in society.
This leads to our second key difference. Because we are convinced that cohesion, inclusion and equality are concepts that must be rooted in the ethos of schools, we feel they cannot be in isolation from other policies that affect the school and the wider community. For that reason we ask for details of a broad range of activities (curriculum, admissions, assemblies, visits etc), not just about specific initiatives established to promote community cohesion.
The scope of the awards
Prizes will be awarded to the schools that have done the most to embody an ethos of inclusion. Other schools may also be commended for their work on inclusion, cohesion and equality either as a whole, or with reference to a particular outstanding feature. For this reason we suggest schools highlight a policy that they feel has been especially successful or innovative."