Last Wednesday Blackburn Central High School students and Headteacher, Diane Atkinson, were interviewed by Katy Rickitt for Good Morning Britain, regarding the new government Integrated Communities Strategy.
Mrs Atkinson was asked for her comments on the news that Blackburn is one of five English councils who are to adopt a new £50 million Government supported Integrated Communities Strategy.
“We are absolutely delighted that the government recognises the need for communities like ours in Blackburn, and of course we welcome the money, that will go some way to supporting our families and communities, but what I have here is a really amazing team of people who are passionate, go that extra mile, working weekends and after school. My only question is, will that money be enough to do that across the whole country.”
Good Morning Britain chose to visit BCHS with Crosshill because we already have everything in place that the strategy is recommending. We run adult literacy classes, events for women, cohesion and integration are huge parts of our overall education strategy, and we actively promote British values including organising British value training.
Bradford, Blackburn, Peterborough, Walsall and Waltham Forest in London have been selected to pilot the scheme with the aim of improving community relations over the next two years.
The strategy includes schemes to encourage students to form lasting relationships with those from different backgrounds, boost English language skills, increase opportunities for women and promote British values in education.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has set out an ambitious long-term plan of action to tackle the root causes of poor integration and create a stronger, more united Britain.
Proposals in the Integrated Communities Strategy include:
- Extra support for English language classes
- Targeted help to improve the economic opportunities for people – particularly women – in segregated communities
- Schemes to encourage school pupils to form lasting relationships with those from different backgrounds
- Increased take up of the National Citizen Service – a project encouraging 16 and 17-year olds to carry out community projects
- Promoting British values in the school curriculum
A survey by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport found that Britain on the whole, is a well-integrated society, with 85 per cent of people reporting a feeling of belonging ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ strongly to Britain.
Mr Javid said: “Britain can rightly claim to be one of the most successful diverse societies in the world. But we cannot ignore the fact that in too many parts of our country, communities are divided, preventing people from taking full advantage of the opportunities that living in modern Britain offers.
“Successive governments have refused to deal with the integration challenges we face head on, preferring to let people muddle along and live isolated and separated lives.
“We will put an end to this through our new strategy which will create a country that works for everyone, whatever their background and wherever they come from.”
The five pilot areas will develop local integration plans allowing new strategies to be tested as the programme develops. These five local authorities have already demonstrated a keen grasp of the challenges they face and show a desire to try new things and learn from what works.
Education secretary Damian Hinds said: “We want to make sure that all children learn the values that underpin our society – including fairness, tolerance and respect.
“These are values that help knit our communities together, which is why education is at the heart of this strategy.
“It’s also important that children are taught in a safe environment and that we can act quickly if children are at risk or being encouraged to undermine these values.