In this issue:
• E+D in the news
• Prevent Duty
• Mental Health • Featured Topic
Equality and diversity is so much more than just “treating everyone the same” …
Equality and diversity enhances everyday life and simple changes to normal activities can ensure all individuals are included and given equal opportunities to achieve. Our newsletter offers updates on E&D, Safeguarding, Prevent Duty, Mental Health Awareness, and Health and Safety, as either found in the news or highlighted as our topic of the month.
Equality and Diversity in the news
The dismissal of Jordi Casamitjani may have significant consequences for the Equality Act 2010 as the employment tribunal will have to decide whether veganism is a “belief” which should be protected. Mr Casamitjani was dismissed for gross misconduct after he released information showing that the pension fund of employees was being invested in firms that engage in animal testing. He claims that he was discriminated against because he is vegan and states that he first discussed the issue internally and staff were offered an alternative “ethical” investment option with lower rates of return.
An inquiry will be launched to investigate racial harassment of both staff and students at UK Universities. The Equality and Human Rights Commission is looking for people to share their stories to add to the ever-growing body of evidence and help create the report. Included in this evidence is a WhatsApp group from May that contains racial slurs about other students as well as jokes about rape. The Chair of the Commission states “There’s no place for it in society and the level that we have seen occurring within universities is particularly concerning.”
The Prevent Duty
Hollyoaks are planning a radicalisation storyline that will see one of the characters groomed by a far-right group. The story will highlight how these far-right groups radicalise vulnerable people and how difficult it can be to escape from. One actor from the show stated, “At first, hearing this story, I was unaware of what radicalisation was or meant.”
Hollyoaks have teamed up with multiple experts and charities to ensure that the way in which the character is groomed is accurate and can show viewers what far-right radicalisation looks like.
One charity they worked with was EXIT UK who supports those that want to get out of far-right extremism.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid has defended controversial programme designed to stop young people being radicalised. He insists that the Prevent Scheme helps defeat the ruthless extremists who try to twist minds to support or engage in terrorist acts.
Critics say that Prevent is heavy-handed and toxic, with some saying that Muslims feel it is about spying and discriminating.
Since 2015, 500 people have been assessed as no longer causes for concern after going through the programme. Only a small percentage of those referred to the programme are deemed as requiring action, others may be referred to Channel.
Remember those all-important contact numbers:
Anti-Terrorism Hotline: 0800 789 321
Crime Stoppers: 0800 555 111
And above all, be vigilant! If in doubt report anything suspicious to 101 or 999.
The Safeguarding Training Fund has been announced to improve safeguarding practice across the voluntary sector. It will provide funding over two phases until 2022. Phase 1: Safeguarding Resources for England, and Phase 2: Safeguarding training and development.
Phase One will result in an organisation or partnership of organisations being funded to provide, develop and co-ordinate a generic safeguarding package to help the sector:
- Increase awareness and understanding of safeguarding and safe culture
- Improve safeguarding practice and safe culture by developing the right organisational structure and strong leadership
- Support good decision making and reporting safeguarding/safe culture issues
Academics are concerned that safeguarding software that allows firms to keep watch on pupils’ activity on school equipment is normalising extreme authoritarian approach in schools.
The tech firm Smoothwall has launched in partnership with the company Safeguard Software to provide a service that collects data from pupils’ activities on school devices to check for safeguarding issues, one product includes students’ personal phones if they are logged on to the school Wi-Fi.
Company figures show that in one-week Smoothwall’s surveillance detected nearly 2500 threats for vulnerable people, nearly 1500 for a terrorist category and 884 for cybersexing. When one of these threats is flagged the school is either called or emailed and in some cases the emergency services are called.
When asked if parents would be aware that schools used such software, the chief technology officer at Smoothwall said that he was not sure how visible it would be. A survey of 1004 parents found that 28% knew that their child’s school used internet monitoring software but didn’t know how it was used.
Health and Safety
Ofsted has warned that children’s early physical development is being stifled by undue concerns over health and safety in nurseries. The education watchdog’s annual report states pre-school children are being denied opportunities to build muscular strength and dexterity because of fears they will hurt themselves.
In some cases, children are not allowed to play on climbing frames or are not taken on day trips because early years providers are frightened of the ramifications. A senior Ofsted official warned that a lack of physical activity can make it harder for children to write and a narrower experience of the outside world can limit vocabulary.
The report calls on childcare settings to take a common sense approach to managing risks. Melanie Pilcher, quality and standards manager for the Pre-School Learning Alliance said “risky-play is an important part of early learning because it helps children explore and develop physically, while also teaching the, about boundaries and rules”
An analysis of the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) enforcement statistics has revealed the high level of fines companies now routinely receive for health and safety breaches.
45 cases in 2017/18 were concluded with fines of over £500,000 whereas in 2014/15 there were only 5 cases with fines this high. The largest single fine in 2017/18 was £3 million following a fatal fall from height.
HSE prosecutions were down 16% to a total of 517 – the lowest in 5 years with the conviction rate at 95%.
£1 million fines or higher are no longer exceptional and many people have become accustom to reading about them.
The average fine has increased 400% over the last 3 years to £147,000
Featured Topic – FGM
30 years ago, one family made the decision not to circumcise its women despite initial threats from other members of the community. The idea has since spread to the entire village in Sudan and they don’t even talk about it anymore. To this village, FGM is not an issue.
This is not the case across most of Sudan and the rest of Africa. 9 out of 10 girls are at risk of genital mutilation and the Sudan government is hoping to put an end to the issue by 2030 with the support of international aid.
Many people are already turning their backs on the practice, one wife and mother said she feels something is missing in her life and that they have to explain this issue to their daughters, they have to tell them “we have lost this thing, but you must not lose it.”
Things across Africa are changing, a £50 million investment from the British Government aims to tackle the issue of FGM. The aid package will help fund organisations that hope to show girls that they can feel empowered if they are left uncut as well as try to shift the attitudes of older members of the communities.
FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985 and legislating in 2003 and 2005 made it an offence for arrangements to be made for a British Citizen or Permanent Resident to undergo the operation outside of the UK. Ministers have said that the money invested into the aid package in Africa will benefit the UK as it will reduce the risk of girls being taken abroad to be cut.
If you are worried that someone is at risk of undergoing FGM or has already undergone the cut contact the FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org