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National Curriculum

Community cohesion

'Schools are well placed to become a focal point for the local community and to foster better relationships between diverse communities. The introduction of the duty on schools to promote community cohesion recognises the good work that many schools are already doing. The curriculum can play a key part in promoting community cohesion.’ The Children’s Plan

By community cohesion, we mean working towards a society in which there is a common vision and sense of belonging among all communities:

  • a society in which the diversity of people’s backgrounds and circumstances is appreciated and valued
  • a society in which similar life opportunities are available to all
  • and a society in which strong and positive relationships exist and continue to be developed in the workplace, in schools and the wider community.


A duty to promote community cohesion

Schools have a duty to promote community cohesion. Ofsted has been inspecting schools' contributions in this area since September 2008.

Embedding community cohesion in the curriculum is vital in addressing the new national curriculum aims to develop successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society.

Through their ethos and curriculum, schools can promote identity and diversity, showing children how different people and communities can be united by common experiences and shared values. The staff and pupil populations of some schools reflect a broad and diverse range of cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds. For others with less diverse populations, school linking allows children the opportunity to mix with and learn with children from different backgrounds.

The new primary curriculum offers schools opportunities to design learning experiences that promote community cohesion and are purposeful, memorable and challenging for learners. Schools can build on what they already do to help young people develop a strong sense of identity and self belief, understand their rights and responsibilities within their communities and engage with people of different beliefs or culturally diverse backgrounds.

A well-designed and planned curriculum should give children opportunities to discuss and consider potentially controversial issues such as bullying or homophobia, explore the contribution of different cultures to areas of knowledge such as science, art or mathematics, and to participate in community-based activities.

Community cohesion guidance

In February 2010 QCDA published Community cohesion in action – a curriculum planning guide for primary and secondary schools. This publication identifies opportunities for developing community cohesion in the curriculum and can be downloaded from the key actions section of this page. It includes curriculum planning activities utilising the three curriculum questions linked to case studies of what selected primary and secondary schools are already doing.

Curriculum planning grids

Curriculum planning grids have also been developed to support initial planning for designing learning experiences that promote community cohesion in the new primary curriculum and new secondary curriculum. The grids have been designed to support teachers’ thinking in designing a coherent curriculum:

  • for the new primary curriculum think about which of the national curriculum aims, essentials for learning and life, and areas of learning can be drawn together in promoting community cohesion.

  • for the new secondary think about which of the national curriculum aims, cross-curriculum dimensions, personal, learning and thinking skills (PLTS) and subjects can work together in planning coherent compelling learning experiences that focus on community cohesion?

The grids can be downloaded from the key actions section of this page. Use the grids as part of planning discussions, drawing arrows linking key elements of the curriculum that you think are related to the learning experiences you are designing.

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