The Government has today (Tuesday 7th February 2017) released its official response to the British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee Report – ‘Young People and the Issues of Racism and Religious Discrimination’. In an unprecedented move, the joint response has been issued by three departments including the Department for Education, Home Office and Department for Communities and Local Government. The response states the Government’s commitment to building ‘a country that works for everyone’.
The joint Government response, which offers an answer to each of the Youth Select Committee’s recommendations, makes a commitment to support schools to produce their own codes of practice, bringing together the various statutory duties and policies, to set out the principles for a whole school approach to inclusivity and tolerance. The Government has also welcomed Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton’s proposal to the establish a national hate crime advisory group.
The response follows the Youth Select Committee’s inquiry which considered both written and oral evidence and concluded that racist taunting was being dismissed as banter in schools across the UK. In the report, published in November 2016 the Committee offered recommendations pertaining to the level and quality of awareness and education in schools, the prevalence of racism and religious discrimination and how organisations and young people are attempting to tackle it, how the issues can be tackled at a local level by communities and how tackling racism and religious discrimination should be approached at a national level by the Government.
Throughout the inquiry, evidence was gathered from a range of witnesses, including charities, young people, academics, Ministers and education professionals. The inquiry was triggered after the issue topped the UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark ballot in 2015 of 969,992 young people in the UK.
The Youth Select Committee have made it clear that in order to tackle racism and religious discrimination changes must be made to the PSHE syllabus. Despite not agreeing, the Government have stated they are ‘actively considering the case for further action on PHSE’, a message which represents a change in tone in the Government’s response on PSHE lessons.
During the inquiry, which took place in the wake of ‘post-Brexit racism’, the Government published their Hate Crime Action Plan which looks to focuses on reducing hate crime, increasing reporting, and improving support for victims. The Government have made it clear that they are invested in tackling racism and religious discrimination, and the British Youth Council will be looking to the Government’s response to the Casey Review, which is due to be released in Spring 2017, to see what steps the Government
Bronagh Hughes, Chair of the Youth Select Committee said:
“The Youth Select Committee welcomes the Government’s swift and comprehensive response to our report published late last year, ‘Young People and the Issue of Racism and Religious Discrimination’, and is particularly appreciative of the cross-departmental nature of the response we have received.
“Whilst we do wish that more of our recommendations could have been supported, we were particularly pleased to read of the Department of Education’s consideration of further action on the teaching of PSHE, and the Government’s welcome of the establishment of a national hate crime Independent Advisory Group for young people. These are issues that are very important to all members of the Youth Select Committee.”
Download the Youth Select Committee Report ‘Young People and the Issues of Racism and Religious Discrimination’
Download Government response to Youth Select Committee Report ‘Young People and the Issues of Racism and Religious Discrimination’