Ministers will drop the term Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME), boost local scrutiny of police checks and draft a model history curriculum to teach Britain’s ‘complex’ past in response to the Sewell report on racial disparities.
Launched in response to the Black Lives Matter protests, the Sewell report sparked controversy when it was published last year for largely dismissing institutional racism as an explanation for many of the challenges facing ethnic minorities in the UK.
In the government’s response, titled Inclusive Britain, ministers acknowledge that racism exists but also stress the importance of other factors.
Kemi Badenoch, Minister for Equality, said: “I firmly believe that Britain is the fairest and most open-minded country in the world, but we can do more to foster inclusion and allow everyone to reach their full potential.
She added: “The causes of racial disparities are complex and often misunderstood. Our new strategy is based on action, not rhetoric, and will help create a country where a person’s race, social or ethnic background is no longer a barrier to achieving their ambitions.
Shadow Labor Equality Minister Taiwo Owatemi said: ‘It is shameful that we have had to wait almost a year for the government’s response – and even worse that they agree with the government’s denial. structural racism of the initial report. Boris Johnson’s Tories have once again failed to take meaningful action. »
Inclusive Britain recommends dropping the term BAME across government as it is too catch-all, and collecting more accurate data to inform future policy-making.
The report lists a long list of other policies, some new and some already in place.
These include the Home Office working with the police and crime commissioners to develop a new framework to ensure police powers, including stop and search and use of force, are subject to to further scrutiny by local communities.
Another plan, which had been followed by Education Minister Robin Walker, is to develop a ‘model curriculum’ to ‘help pupils understand the intertwined nature of British and world history, and their own place within it”.
Developed by 2024 by a panel of historians and school leaders, the curriculum materials will not be compulsory, but “will be an example of a knowledge-rich and coherent approach to teaching history” .
Sewell’s report was changed last year after backlash over his suggestion that there was a new story to be taught about the ‘slave era’, which was not just about ‘profit and suffering’.
A footnote has been added to clarify: “This means that in the face of the inhumanity of slavery, Africans have preserved their humanity and their culture. This includes the history of slave resistance.
Other plans from the Inclusive Britain report include issuing new guidance for employers on how to implement affirmative action policies in the workplace and convening a new expert group on inclusion in the workplace. expert work to examine equality training in the workplace.
The Department for Education, together with the Cabinet Office’s Racial Disparities Unit, will also look at what lessons can be learned from multi-academy school trusts that are ‘most successful in bridging the achievement gaps of different ethnic groups. and increase overall life chances”. ”.
Existing government policies on everything from using more extrajudicial takedowns to deal with new drug users to online safety are also included.
Badenoch was transferred to Michael Gove’s Leveling Up department last September, taking the ties case with her.
In launching Inclusive Britain, Gove suggested tackling racial disparities was part of its leveling off agenda. “Central to Leveling Up is equality – giving everyone the same access to a great education, well-paid job and good standard of living – regardless of background,” he said. .
Tony Sewell, chief executive of the educational charity Generating Genius, welcomed the government’s response to his report, saying: “This is a major step towards a fairer, more open and more inclusive society and, above all, , focuses on practical actions that will improve people’s lives.”
The Sewell report was commissioned when the government came under intense pressure to respond to the outpouring of support for the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK in the summer of 2020, with protests in many cities following the death of George Floyd in the hands of the American police.
After it was published, it was reported that large parts of the report – particularly the denial that institutional or structural racism existed – were written by No 10.