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Stephen Lawrence Education Standard (SLES)

The SLES was set up in 2000 in response to the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 and the McPherson Inquiry Report in 1999. The aims of the SLES are to promote race equality and community cohesion in schools by developing effective leadership and whole school approaches to this work. Schools work together in clusters to develop their policies and practices and share strategies and good practice. Schools can achieve the SLES at Level 1, 2 or 3, 3 being the highest standard where race equality and community cohesion issues are fully embedded in the life and work of the school.

Issue/challenge and goal/assumption

The key issues addressed are challenging racism and promoting equality and cohesion, dealing with and reducing racist incidents and bullying, promoting cultural diversity, and global awareness.  The SLES supports schools in meeting their statutory duties under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 and the Duty to Promote Community Cohesion 2007.

As well as ensuring schools are meeting their statutory duties the goals of the SLES are to develop whole school approaches to this work, change attitudes, and  ensure all pupils from different minority groups reach their full potential. The aim is also to empower young people to be responsible global citizens. By working together in clusters and with the community, schools are ensuring their ethos and culture is promoting equalities and diversity.

Currently over two thirds of schools are engaged with the SLES.

The SLES is a partnership between Education Leeds, schools and the community.

How does it work

Schools use a self evaluation framework to assess their current practice in relation to promoting race equality and community cohesion. They develop an action plan to improve their practice. The action plan may include developing policies, curriculum work, developing parental and community links, training for all staff, monitoring and dealing with racist incidents, intervening in pupils who are underachieving and developing targeted projects.

Schools put forward a portfolio of evidence against 12 criteria. This evidence is assessed by members of the SLES Partnership who visit the school to make a judgment on their practice.

An award ceremony takes place once a year.


The outcomes show that schools working together on the SLES in partnership with the community, develop their capacity and collective strength to promote race equality and community cohesion. There is increased awareness and understanding of these issues. All partners are more confident and assertive in talking about, and dealing with, issues of racism. Schools feel empowered and confident to take this work further.

‘The SLES has energised and transformed the whole school in championing race equality’

‘Working together with other schools has been a success for the whole community of Morley’


  • School work was evaluated through SLES Partnership Assessment process ie, portfolio of evidence plus school visit to talk with pupils, parents, and learning walk round school.
  • A Report was written with development points and shared with school.
  • Quality assurance of Assessors through regular Assessors training.
  • Ongoing evaluations of Headteacher training programmes and cluster meetings, school visits by Education Leeds Officers.
  • Performance review meetings for Education Leeds Officers.
  • Working together in clusters on SLES has empowered and motivated staff to work in partnership on other areas of school work
  • Build evaluation in from the beginning

Who will benefit?

All schools in Leeds, but we are working on developing the SLES as a national standard.

Expected number of persons reached

265 schools, all staff, Governors, parents and pupils plus communities to have some understanding of SLES relative to their role.

Source of funding and Resources used

  • Internal funding through Education Leeds -Officer time and cost of Guidance Documents, DVD etc
  • School and community representatives time voluntary – small payment for Assessors
  • Very small contributions to schools to support work.

Annual budget

200,000 Euro approx

Number and type of workers needed

The SLES Partnership is a management group of Officer, school and community representatives. The partnership is responsible for developing the initiative – Officers implement strategies.
Assessors are from this group plus other Officers and Headteachers and Deputy Headteachers.


Education Leeds
Denise Trickett
Strategic development and implementation

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