The Accord Coalition for inclusive education has launched its 2010 Award for 'good examples' of schools which welcome and involve all.
The Accord Award, which was established last year, is the first of its kind. It recognises the achievements of state maintained schools that celebrate the diversity of beliefs, both religious and non-religious, within the school and wider community which go beyond the school’s legal requirements on inclusion and equality.
The prestigious Award is open to all state-funded schools and was won last year by Manorside Primary School in North London, with runners up being the Anglo-European School in Essex and Balshaw’s Church of England High School in Leyland, Lancashire.
The year’s Award will be judged by another respected and experienced panel of experts including Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers; Baroness Kishwer Falkner, an expert on human rights and multiculturalism; Fiona Millar, journalist and education campaigner; Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, minister of the Maidenhead Synagogue and chair of The Accord Coalition; and Simon Barrow, co-director of the Christian think-tank Ekklesia and a former assisant general secretary of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
The deadline for entries is 5pm on Monday 10 November and prizes will be awarded in the New Year. The judges will be looking for schools having an ethos which celebrates inclusion and that pride themselves on building links within and between communities.
The winning school will be announced in the local and national press. Details on the Accord Award can be found at the organisation’s website (http://accordcoalition.org.uk/ ).
Launching the 2010 Award, Accord Coalition chair, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, commented: "Many people sit back complain about the state of our schools. However, The Accord Coalition does the reverse and is committed to seeking out and rewarding those schools that are inclusive, tolerant and transparent."
He continued: "Many schools are remarkably successful at improving cohesion and it is time that those institutions that work hard to build bridges between the different ethnic and religion or belief communities are praised."
Simon Barrow, co-director of the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia, which was a co-founder of the Accord Coalition, said: "This award shows both the diversity and the community capability of education in this country. It rewards and highlights those who are working to break down barriers of religion and belief in schooling, and demonstrates that the arguments for maintaining discrimination in admissions, employment, curriculum and assembly in some schools are outdated and unnecessary."
"It is vitally important to encourage inclusive education through good example rather than cajoling, and to research on the de-benefits of restrictive practices with encouragement towards those schools that show a better way, whatever their background or foundation," he added.
The Accord Coalition was launched in September 2008 to bring together religious and civic organisations and individuals campaigning for an end to religious discrimination in school staffing and admissions.
The Coalition also campaigns for a fair and balanced RE curriculum, for pupils to receive Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education, and for the replacement of the requirement for compulsory collective worship with inspiring, inclusive assemblies.
The coalition does not take a position for or against faith schools in principle, and its members take different positions on this issue. The aim is to create a fresh debate by bringing people together across the divide to argue for reform.
Accord's growing list of members and supporters include the the Christian think tank Ekklesia, British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, and the British Humanist Association. It also has members from the four largest groupings in parliament.