Britain: Schools with large numbers of white pupils may be taken over or closed if they fail to promote race relations
Schools with large numbers of white pupils may be taken over or closed if they fail to promote race relations and links between different religious groups, according to Government guidance.
Those in rural areas or leafy suburbs should be twinned with ethnically mixed schools in the inner city, it suggests.
Christian faith schools should strike up partnerships with Muslim and Jewish institutions, while other community schools should organise more trips to churches, mosques and synagogues. In a move designed to stop children drifting toward extremism, all schools will have a legal duty from September to break down barriers and promote "community cohesion".
Jim Knight, the schools minister, said yesterday the rules would be enforced by Ofsted, which has the power to sack the governing body or recommend closure if schools fail to comply.
The Commission for Racial Equality has warned that Britain's segregated schools are "a ticking time bomb waiting to explode".
The new guidance said: "Every school - whatever its intake and wherever it is located - is responsible for educating children and young people who will live and work in a country which is diverse in terms of culture, faith, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.
"The staff and pupil populations of some schools reflect this diversity, allowing pupils to mix with those from different backgrounds.
"Others do not, and need to make links with other schools and organisations in order to give their pupils the opportunity to mix with and learn with, from and about those from different backgrounds."
According to latest figures, about one in eight children in English schools now speak English as a second language and numbers have soared over the past 10 years.
But ministers are concerned some schools are still being monopolised by single racial or religious groups, acting as a breeding ground for extremism.
One in 20 primary schools have no ethnic minority pupils and 323 schools have more than half of pupils from Bangladeshi or Pakistani backgrounds.
Draft guidance, which is out to consultation before becoming law later this year, recommends field trips with a racial or faith angle, and inviting religious leaders to schools.
Speaking at the National Association of Head Teachers' annual conference in Bournemouth yesterday, Mr Knight said: "I am quite keen on faith-based schools twinning with those of other faiths or within the network of schools within their community and talking to other schools about their faith."
The law will be equally binding on schools with predominately Asian populations and those with large numbers of white children.
John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "In many troubled communities schools are already the only institutions promoting community cohesion."
Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "It is yet another unnecessary Government initiative."
David Willetts, the Tory education spokesman, said: "The Government should be leaving head teachers to do their jobs."
Twinning plan to stop race divide
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