Peterborough chosen as pilot area to bring divided communities together under new Government strategy

Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Governments
Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Governments

Schools in Peterborough whose pupils come from a single ethnic or religious community could be required to ensure they mix with children from other backgrounds under Government proposals to encourage social integration.

The proposed Integrated Communities Strategy also calls on schools to teach “British values” and sets out plans to boost English language skills and encourage women from minority communities to find jobs.

Peterborough is one of five pilot areas which will now develop local integration plans following a £50 million investment from the Government.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Britain can rightly claim to be one of the most successful, diverse societies in the world. But we cannot ignore the fact that in too many parts of our country, communities are divided, preventing people from taking full advantage of the opportunities that living in modern Britain offers.

“Successive governments have refused to deal with the integration challenges we face head on, preferring to let people muddle along and live isolated and separated lives.

“We will put an end to this through our new strategy which will create a country that works for everyone, whatever their background and wherever they come from.”

The other pilot areas are Blackburn, Bradford, Walsall and the London borough of Waltham Forest.

Among the proposals in the strategy are:

. A new community-based English language programme, with a network of conversation clubs and support for councils to improve provision of tuition

. Personalised skills training to help women from “isolated” communities into work

. Measures to ensure young people have the opportunity to mix and form lasting relationships with those from different backgrounds

. Promotion of British values across the school curriculum

. Increased take-up of the National Citizen Service

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “We want to make sure that all children learn the values that underpin our society - including fairness, tolerance and respect.

“These are values that help knit our communities together, which is why education is at the heart of this strategy.

“It’s also important that children are taught in a safe environment and that we can act quickly if children are at risk or being encouraged to undermine these values. Together with Ofsted and communities across the country, we will build on the work already under way to achieve this.”