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Casey report on integration calls for new oath for holders of public office

Standards of leadership and integrity in public office must be increased as part of efforts to improve social integration in Great Britain and bind communities together, Dame Louise Casey has said in a report.

One of 12 key recommendations put forward by Casey said: “We expect the highest standards in all civic leaders in selflessness and integrity, so too we should expect all in public office to uphold the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith.

“The government should work with the Committee for Standards in Public Life to ensure these values are enshrined in the principles of public life, including a new oath for holders of public office.”

The review also called on the government to step up the safeguarding arrangements for children who are removed from mainstream education, and in particular those who do not commence mainstream schooling at all.

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Dame Louise found that with the country experiencing rapid population change there were still large social and economic gaps between ethnic groups; that ethnic segregation was increasing in some areas; and that women in some communities were suffering from huge inequalities.

Following a year-long review, she called in her report for a major new government programme to help:

  • empower all communities to take advantage of modern Britain’s economic opportunities;
  • provide more English language classes for isolated groups;
  • encourage young people to mix in schools and across communities;
  • secure women’s emancipation in communities where they are being held back by regressive cultural practices.

Dame Louise also said there should be increased integration expectations set out earlier in the immigration process.

The report suggested that while Britain “has benefited hugely from immigration and the increased ethnic and religious diversity it has brought, nowhere near enough emphasis has been put on integration in communities to match the pace and scale of the change in our population in recent years”.

Dame Louise said: “Social integration is about closing the gaps that exist between people and communities. This report has found those gaps exist in terms of where people live but also in terms of the lives they lead and the opportunities they have to succeed. So it is about how we get on in life, as well as how we get along with each other.

“To help bind Britain together and tackle some of the division in our society we need more opportunities for those from disadvantaged communities, particularly women, and more mixing between people from different backgrounds.

“We need more effort to be put into integration policies to help communities cope with the pace and scale of immigration and population change in recent years. But we also need more of a spirit of unity, compassion and kindness that brings people together under our common British values of tolerance, democracy, equality and respect.”

The other 11 initial recommendations include:

  1. Central government should support a new programme to help improve community cohesion. “This could back area-based plans and projects addressing the key priorities identified in this review. It would see targeted support provided for projects, ideally evidence-based, that would help build more resilient communities.”
  2. All local authorities should be able to pick up and act upon signs that integration is breaking down at the earliest stage. “Central and local government should develop a list of indicators of a potential breakdown in integration. These might include incidences of hate crime or deficiencies in English language. Local authorities should collect this information regularly.”
  3. Drawing on the most effective approaches, central government should work with local government to bring together and disseminate a toolkit of approaches which have seen success.
  4. The promotion of British laws, history and values within the core curriculum in all schools would help build integration, tolerance, citizenship and resilience in our children. More weight should be attached to a British Values focus and syllabus in developing teaching skills and assessing schools performance.
  5. The government should review how those on the visa routes most likely to settle permanently in the UK are given support on arrival. The government should consider whether additional integration support should be provided immediately post arrival, and how clearer expectations on integration could be set, potentially in advance on application for a visa, so that those moving to the UK get off to the best start, and know their rights and obligations.
  6. The government should also review the route to full British Citizenship, “which is of huge national, cultural and symbolic value”. The government should look at what is required for British citizenship, as opposed to leave to remain, and separately consider an Oath of Integration with British Values and Society on arrival, rather than awaiting a final citizenship test.
  7. The government should work with schools providers and local communities to encourage a range of school provision and projects to ensure that children from different communities learn alongside those from different backgrounds, “perhaps purchasing sites in the areas of highest segregation in advance and encouraging Multi-Academy Trusts to have a diverse range of provision.”
  8. The introduction of Universal Credit will bring a much wider range of people into contact with support in finding work for the first time. The government should build on classes to tackle English language deficiencies with the development of classes to tackle cultural barriers born out of segregation which are identified as a barrier to work, supporting both employment and integration goals.
  9. The government should support further targeted English language provision by making sufficient funding available for community-based English language classes, and through the adult skills budget for local authorities to prioritise English language where there is a need. It should also review whether community based and skills funded programmes are consistently reaching those who need them most, and whether they are sufficiently coordinated.
  10. The government should work with local government to understand how housing and regeneration policies could improve or inhibit integration locally, and promote best practice approaches.
  11. The government should step up the safeguarding arrangements for children who are removed from mainstream education, and in particular those who do not commence mainstream schooling at all. All children outside mainstream education should be required to register with local authorities and local authorities duties’ to know where children are being educated should be increased. It should also consider the standards against which home education is judged to be clear that divisive practices are not acceptable in any setting. Ofsted and the Charity Commission should be resourced to support additional central and local government action to ensure the safeguarding of all children in mainstream and supplementary educational environments.

A copy of the report, The Casey Review: a review into opportunity and integration, can be viewed here.

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