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Benefit or burden? How English schools responded to the duty to promote community cohesion

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posted on 13.06.2016, 10:36 authored by Don Rowe, Nicola Horsley, Tony Breslin, Tony Thorpe
This paper discusses results from a small scale qualitative study of how primary and secondary schools in three English local authorities responded to the introduction and subsequent inspection of a legal duty to promote community cohesion, following a series of ‘race’ riots in 2001 and the London bombings of 2005. The policy itself is seen as reflecting wider discourse and is shown as shifting in focus during the period it was officially inspected between 2008 and 2011. Schools responded differentially to the duty and its inspection, with those in more multicultural areas responding with higher degrees of confidence than those in mono-ethnic areas. Some policy ‘slippage’ is seen to occur in the way schools re-framed the duty. Over time, most schools came to identify the curriculum and the school’s ethos as the most important weapons in their armoury. Teachers embraced the new duty with different degrees of enthusiasm – for some it confirmed the importance of holistic approaches to education which they felt had been sidelined in recent years, whilst other showed various forms of resistance. Teachers encountered some subtle and challenging professional dilemmas in the course of discharging the duty. Overall, the respondents in this study felt that the imposition of the duty and its inspection had been more of a benefit than a burden.


This research was carried out under the auspices of the Citizenship Foundation, London, in association with the University of Leeds. It was generously funded by a grant from CfBT Education Trust.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

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Journal of Social Science Education






88 - 107


ROWE, D. ... et al, 2012. Benefit or burden? How English schools responded to the duty to promote community cohesion. Journal of Social Science Education, 11 (3), pp. 88 - 107.


Bielefeld University /© JSSE


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This paper was published in the Journal of Social Science Education and is available here with the kind permission of the publisher.