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Race and Culture

The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 says that public bodies (including schools) must have ‘due regard to the need':

- to eliminate unlawful racial discrimination; and
- to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups.

This applies to admission, assessment, raising pupils' attainment levels, delivering the curriculum, discipline, guidance and support. Schools can't claim that they don't have the resources to meet these responsibilities.

This means that state-maintained schools need to make sure that they don't discriminate against you or your child because of your background and they must respect your culture. Under the Act, Romany Gypsies and Travellers of Irish Heritage are recognised ethnic groups.

Many schools celebrate Black History Month in October of each year and you may want to find out exactly how they do so and what children learn. Similarly, religious festivals like Diwali, Eidh, Ramadhan, Guru Nanak's birthday or the crowning of Haile Selassie are often commemorated.

If you feel that your culture is not respected and reflected in school life and the curriculum, you can discuss this with staff. If you believe that this is a problem that affects other children in the school, you may want to talk to other parents to see if you can approach the school together, perhaps involving the parent governor and/or the Parent Teacher Association.

This may be more difficult if you're part of a very small minority but schools might still value your contribution since all students will benefit. In addition, schools also now have a duty to promote community cohesion (good relations between different communities).