Interview with Dwain Brandy from the OCL Break the cycle seminar, discussing practical solutions towards an Anti-racist curriculum.
First Generation Black British (1960s – 1970s)
The British Educational System has had a legacy of systematically failing black children (Richardson, 2007; Gillborn, 2008). This is my personal account of how institutionalised racism has impacted my family throughout the generations.
My Grandparents arrived in the UK in the 1950s, where they were welcomed with racism, rejection, and persecution was the narrative presented to Colonial migrants as discussed by (Eddo-Lodge, 2017:25). Subsequently, Colonial Migrants were ignored and excluded from parts of society, this was a strategy used to preserve White British purity (Myers, 2015:17 as during that time it was of national interest to preserve the’ British race’ due to the ‘dwindling birth-rate’ post Second World War (Paul, 1997:2).
My father is a first-generation, Black British Caribbean. He attended school during the late ’60s early ’70s. During this era, it was commonplace that those who were from African Caribbean descent were systematically discriminated against and failed by the British Educational system (Richardson, 2007:68; Gillborn, 2008:73). Many children of African Caribbean heritage were labeled ‘educationally subnormal’, hence excluded from mainstream schools (Richardson, 2007:68).
My grandmother was the head cook at the primary school where my father attended. On one occasion she walked passed a classroom where the teacher was reading the book ‘10 Little Ni**er Boys’ to a group of predominantly Black Caribbean students. My grandmother campaigned and was successful in the removal of these books, not only from that school but all schools and from Manchester City Library.
Second Generation Black British (1990s – 2000s)
Being Black and British, I have had a first-hand account of attending a traditionally white, mono-ethnic inner-city secondary school as a pupil during the multiculturalism era of New Labour and Blair’s government. During this time, there was an absence of understanding of racism and race equality in policy literature, as discussed by Gillborn (2008). Multicultural integration during 1996 – 2001 was a low priority within the school, despite the Black and Asian cohort increasing every year.
I attended Lostock Community High School which was known as a ‘dumping school’, where pupils excluded from neighbouring school would be taken on the school roll. The exclusion figures at that time were significantly higher than the national average with Black children being punished twice as much as their white counterparts; with the Black Caribbean group being the most punished (Williams 2004). This contributed towards a toxic racialized environment where pupils did not integrate, misconceptions about various cultures were not challenged and pupils from Black Global Majority (BGM) backgrounds were marginalised. This led to racial tension between the host community and Black students with little to no intervention from the school and no polices designed to safeguard BGM students. The governors made the decision to keep these figures confidential. Ultimately, this led to the suspension of head Teacher in 2004 along with the Governing body for 15 years of neglect by educational bosses (Manchester Evening News, 2007).
At the time, the curriculum was exclusively Anglo-centric, with topics relating to identity, cultural similarities and diversity excluded from the curriculum. To unpick the trauma of the Anglo-centric conditioning effect, I attending a Pan African Saturday school. This was integral to reinforce positive self-image, self-confidence and to help bridge the gap that was absent in mainstream education.
Third generation Black British (2019 – )
My eldest daughter attends a church school, renowned for its outstanding attainment results. The school is known for its ‘Christian ethos – one which has at its heart the individual made in the image of God. As such all are valued equally’. Subsequently, the school adopted a colour-blind approach that underplays the significance of institutionalised racism within its curriculum, leadership, and Management. Since the death of George Floyd (RIP), I have consulted with the school, challenging the lack of cultural inclusion and Black representation in the curriculum. As a direct response, the school has decided to source more Black books by Black authors and will be discussing how to implement inclusive strategies with the senior leadership team.
Breaking the Cycle
We all have a role to play in breaking the cycle of institutionalised racism in education and to adopt an anti-racist, cultural approach to the curriculum. It is essential to have a whole-school approach to have a significant impact on changing the discourse within schools and a range of other professional practices. (Paul, 1997: 190). This will create equal opportunities for the generation of young learners going through the English educational system. This will contribute towards leading educational change and breaking the traditional cycle of a colour-blind outlook through multi-cultural representation.
If you are familiar with this blog, I have been campaigning and spreading awareness towards the decolonisation of the curriculum since I started teaching. I have been in a unique position to lead educational change within my educational setting.
We aim to introduce an Anti-Racist, culturally inclusive diet that integrates multiple perspectives, to topics within the National Curriculum to make it more inclusive for BGM learners and to ensure that whiteness is not the norm by which everything is measured, driving the narrative of decolonising the structures in education, focusing on Curriculum Reviews and Adaptation, Staff Training and CPD, Student Education and Leadership and Management.
Throughout this journey, it has reinforced the importance of integrity and the pursuit of social justice as well as equality and diversity within education despite institutional racism and neoliberal constraints.
As a proud Black teacher, researcher and father, I believe that an Anti-racist cultural approach in our schools will eventually lead educational change within society and foster a mindset of equality, and respect of cultural differences and similarities, creating a new generation of Black and Global Majority leaders.
Eddo- Lodge, Reni (2017). Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race. London: Bloomsbury. 1 – 124
Gillborn, D. (2008) Racism and Education. London: Routledge.
Manchester Evening News. (2007). sacked school governor im a scapegoat. Available: https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/sacked-school-governor-im-a-scapegoat-1186050. Last accessed 9th Apr 2020.
Myers, K. (2016). Struggles for a past: Irish and Afro-Caribbean histories in England, 1951-2000. Manchester University Press.
Richardson, B. ed. (2007). Tell it like it is: How our schools fail Black children. Bookmarks.
Paul, K. (1997). Whitewashing Britain: race and citizenship in the postwar era. Cornell University Press.
Williams, J., 2004. Tilting at Windmills…: Memoirs of a School Governor; a Cautionary Tale of Corporate Bullying.
2.2 History of Multicultural Britain
Britain has always been ethnically diverse. As early as C100BC, during Roman rule, African auxiliary soldiers featured in the Roman army protecting Hadrian’s Wall (Dabydeen et al, 2007). Ethnic diversity began to increase in England during the expansion of the British Empire. This expansion resulted in colonial warfare, including the exploitation, murder and human trafficking of Africans during the transatlantic slave trade from 1562 – 1833 (Williams, 2005; Eddo Lodge, 2017; Gillborn, 2008). The colonised countries under the British Empire were used to substantiate Britain’s power and wealth; the leading nation in comparison to her international counterparts (Paul, 1997).
During the First World War, 15,600 African / African-Caribbean soldiers and over 74,000 Indian soldiers from British Colonies died in the conflict, many serving under the false promise of political reform and freedom from colonial rule in their countries (Eddo-Lodge, 2017). Consequently, the BAME population increased in Britain to around 10,000 under the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914, which gave Black and Asian colonial migrants the same rights as ‘natural born citizens’ Dabydeen et al, 2007:176). However, this was contradicted by military law that classed all non-whites as ‘aliens’, presenting racialized barriers and restrictions, which caused race fuelled riots against the Black presence in Britain in 1919 (Eddo-Lodge, 2017; Dabydeen et al, 2007; Belchem, 2014; Paul, 2007).
Due to larger economic and political objectives, the decolonisation of the British Empire began post Second World War (Paul, 1997; Belchem, 2014). The British Immigration act was passed in 1948, the same year that 492 Black Caribbeans travelling on the Windrush docked in Essex, England with the aim of restoring post-war Britain (Eddo Lodge, 2017). This was the introduction of ‘mass immigration’, where 1.2 million New Commonwealth citizens of British colonised commonwealth states immigrated to England and Wales between 1948 until the mid-1970’s (Mason, 2003).
The term immigrant was used to define the ‘already settled population as homogenous’ post Second Word War (Mason 2003:16). Whilst some countries were discussing making ‘immigrants’ citizens, Britain was doing the reverse (Paul, 1997). However, these immigrants were essentially colonial migrants with the rights to gain British Citizenship, regardless of where they resided within the empire (Thorns, 2002; Paul, 2007; Dabydeen et al, 2007). Most of the migrants were black and brown, mainly from African and South Asian descent. Due to the ‘unrecognisable’ differences and intersections of different characteristics such as languages, culture and religion, these people of ‘colour’ were labelled as ‘ethnically different’ in comparison to their white counterparts (Mason, 2003). This was the strategy used to preserve white British purity and, as a result, colonial migrants were ignored and excluded from parts of society (Myers, 2016:17).
In 1962 and 1968 the Commonwealth Immigration act was introduced with the aim of limiting the immigration of Black and Asian colonial migrants into Britain. This coincided with widespread practice in British schools of labelling black children as educationally sub normal in comparison to their white counterparts, leading to the systematic failing of black children within the British Educational system. (Richardson, 2007; Gillborn, 2008)
Migration into the UK has had its trials and tribulations for BAME communities, due to racialized policies designed to contain and preserve the whiteness in host communities (Gillborn, 2008). This presents a problem as the policies designed to ‘contain’ were of the same government that designed the policies to integrate multicultural communities within our schools. This is discussed further in the next section.
2.3 Race and Education Policy
To understand how community cohesion policies were introduced by the government and how they have impacted our school, it is important to understand the history of how government policy discourse has reacted to the change in multicultural demographics post 1970 in the UK, and how it has become progressively obsessed with the social control of BAME communities (Gillborn, 2008).
Assimilation policies were introduced around the same time as the introduction of major immigration laws in the UK in 1965. Assimilation policies introduced in the UK were the act of denying cultural difference, as it was deemed that Black culture and beliefs were inferior compared to their white counterparts (Lumby, 2007). Consequently, this created a racialized structure of hierarchy that re-enforced white European superiority over migrants from BAME heritages (Paul 2007).
It has been suggested that the assimilation process could have been hindered by migrants unwilling to invest in the country based on their temporary status within it (Demireva, 2011). This might have been accurate for a handful of cases, however, the general attitude from the government and society during this time was to promote assimilation and the eradication of cultural differences (Gillborn, 2008). This has had a direct impact on education as BAME children, in particular, Black Caribbean children were the subject of systematic discrimination and failed by the British Educational system (Richardson, 2007; Gillborn, 2008). Many children of African Caribbean heritage were the labeled ‘educationally subnormal’, and thus were excluded from mainstream schools (Richardson, 2007).
Integration was assimilation by a new name (Gillborn, 2008:). Educational policies which deemed ‘minorities’ as a problem, remained to serve the main objective of assimilating BAME groups (Gillborn, 2008). In 1971, the Immigration Act was passed, influenced by racist attitudes in society (Dabydeen, 2007; Finney, 2009).
This resulted in anti-immigration activities, supported by political groups, causing thousands of racial attacks and cases of racial harassment against Black and Asian people (Dabydeen, 2007). Within the school context, the onus was on BAME pupils to integrate with the majority, with little or no intervention and guidance provided on a macro or micro level, as stated by Eric Bolton, the Chief inspector of schools at the time (Gillborn, 2008). Subsequently, BAME students were isolated both within the classroom and wider society.
Multiculturalism policy programmes were designed as a ‘solution’ to support cultural differences and remove discriminatory barriers for migrants and BAME communities (Fleras, 2009). These were first introduced in the early 1980s and went through many revisions under different political parties; from the introduction of colour-blind policies under Thatcherism to the highlighting of the inequalities associated with BAME learners under the New Labour administration in 2007 (Gillborn, 2008). Post-9/11, there was widespread criticism of policies relating to Multiculturalism, which led to the concept’s demise (Heath, 2014). Flares (2009) discussed that multiculturalism policies were another method of control, a political tool where the “ruling elites, control the ‘unruly ethnics’”. Consequently, it presented tokenistic recognition towards BAME, but ultimately marginalised migrants further with neutral, colour-blind policies (Belchem, 2014). Whereas, Health’s (2014) study into multiculturalism concluded that ethnoreligious groups made successful claims of ethnic integration during the multiculturalism era, despite the negative rhetoric associated with the policy.
Community cohesion was a political concept that replaced the multiculturalism agenda and entered mainstream national policy (Flint, 2008; Rhamie, 2012). The policy emerged in 2001-02 under the Labour government (Jones, 2013) and made a shift from integration back to assimilating to the host community (Samad 2013). Over the years, the term has been institutionalised in the UK through policy and statutory duties in schools (Jones, 2013:4). The policy was introduced after the racial disturbances in Northern British cities in 2001 (Rhamie, 2012; Alam, 2013; Samad, 2013) and the London bombings in 2005 as a strategy to integrate Muslims into the community (Rhamie, 2012; Samad, 2013:273). However, as discussed by (Jones, 2013), the policy was framed as if the main focus was issues relating to segregation and separation between cultures.
The term community cohesion lacked conceptual clarity (Jones, 2013). Subsequently, there have been many interpretations of the term as the policy has changed over time. To add to the ambiguity of community cohesion, the PREVENT strategy was introduced around the same time. This was a strategy that was focused on counter-terrorism and extremism Samad (2013). This was separate from the community cohesion agenda; however, the agenda targeted the same communities using the same professionals across the two programmes inside and outside of the classroom Samad (2013). This gave community cohesion a negative connotation within BAME communities. Conversely, Mcghee (2006) discusses that the community cohesion strategies, which focused on the improvement of race inequality and integration of new migrants, took precedence over and excluded existing white disadvantaged host communities in England, subsequently causing hostility that negatively impacts community cohesion.
Looking through the lens of the government, the Community Cohesion policy was an attempt to help support people to take individual responsibility to make the right choices and nurture an environment where different cultures interact with each other. It was hoped that this would result in positive inter-cultural relationships and contributions towards society both for individual benefit and the overall social good (Jones, 2013). However, the policy was based on ideology rather than being evidence-based (Flint, 2008). The ambiguity of the language and terminology interchanging between race and class has resulted in fragmentation, which served to reinforce the hierarchical institutionalised narrative that has prioritised white nationals over BAME communities.
Despite the number of immigrants into Britain steadily decreasing every year since 2015, (a reduction of 25,000 immigrants and an increase of 40,000 emigrants (Office for National Statistics, 2017; Finney, 2009), major concerns about immigration remain, creating a new, national fear of the re-emergence of the ‘multiculturalism identity’. This has been used as political rhetoric relating to multiculturalism and controls on immigration have been personified in the latest political campaigns from Conservative and Labour governments (Eddo lodge, 2017). This ‘fear’ was used in Brexit anti-immigration rhetoric from the middle right wing and political parties using statements such as ‘preserving our national identity’ (Eddo Lodge, 2017:119). This public and policy discourse has impacted migrants and BAME children in school, as some teachers have started to raise concerns about students who have failed to assimilate to British culture (Keddie, 2014).
According to Lord Ashcroft (2016) voting polls of how people voted during the EU referendum, 80% of voters who believed that multiculturalism and immigration were a burden to society voted to leave the European Union. Consequently, there has been a 53% increase in race-related hate crime in UK schools (Camden, 2017). This has resulted in BAME learners being more likely to experience racist bullying than their white counterparts (Bain, 2018). With such an increase, a focus on integration and community cohesion is more important than ever.
As discussed by Gillborn (2008), policymakers seem to have amnesia as policies are reincarnated. Policies have been reactionary, influenced by events related to race and integration and there is the likelihood that, as revised policies are reintroduced, there will be a focus on assimilation and integration in reaction to Brexit. Since the 1950s, the government has failed to place equality and diversity at the center of social and educational policy (Gillborn, 2008). This has highlighted a serious issue relating to equality, diversity and community cohesion within schools in the UK and so it is unsurprising that there is a demand for a new dynamic cohesion strategy in schools and communities that better reflects the global community in England.
There is an increasing concern in the state of community cohesion within schools in England. Following the announcement of the Brexit referendum results and recent terrorist attacks in the UK mainland, police recorded over nine hundred hate crimes in or around school and colleges, 71% of which were racially motivated (City Council, 2018; Virdee, 2017; Bulman, 2018; Camden, 2017).
England has experienced unprecedented growth in Black and Global communities over the past sixty years. BGM student population has continued to increase annually in secondary schools in England, with an increase from 29.1% in 2017 to 30.3% in 2018 (DfE, 2018). Despite this, many schools still fail to be culturally inclusive, still adopting a ‘colour-blind’ approach (Lumby, 2016) that directly impacts BAME groups. This is detrimental towards fostering an inclusive environment and constructive community cohesion. Therefore, it is important for schools to adopt a strategic approach to address the underlying issues related to inclusion and community cohesion (Jones, 2013).
Community cohesion discourse was once a strategic government initiative that was institutionalised through policies and within schools in England, with the aim of integrating host and migrant communities as discussed by Jones, (2013). In 2011, schools’ contribution towards community cohesion was removed from Ofsted assessment framework, however, schools still have the duty to promote the policy (DfE, 2011). With the lack of framework, schools are left in a precarious position, trying to establish cohesive environments in multicultural settings.
Previous research suggests that schools need to intervene and promote a culture of inclusivity and social mixing to develop community cohesion within a school context (Lumby, 2016; Holden, 2013; Morris, 2011; Runnymede, 2018). To date, only a few studies (Rhamie, 2012; Hemming, 2011; Keddie, 2014), have attempted to investigate topics relating to community cohesion within a secondary school context. Therefore, this study offers some important insights into the dynamics of community cohesion in a multicultural inner-city secondary school and aims to contribute towards to this area of research. This dissertation is concerned with how, on a micro-level, schools implement and prioritise local policies related to community cohesion. It also investigates student perceptions regarding community cohesion within the school, with attention paid to pupil interaction and inclusion.
1.1 Research Context and Focus
The case study site is at Spirit Academy (anonymised name), a secondary school in the North of England. The area has one of the highest levels of social deprivation within the UK, where the number of households who claim benefits is 25% higher than the national average, suggesting low employment rates within the area. The demographics of the surrounding area is predominantly ‘white working-class’. This a social class group used as a descriptor to describe British White people from a working-class area (Tyler, 2015). The area had a 5% BGM population in 2001 which increased to 14% in the last census in 2011. This is forecasted to increase to 34% in 2021 (City Council, 2018).
In 2017/2018 there was a 61% increase in hate crime, with racially motivated offenses consistently accounting for most of hate crimes recorded (City Council, 2018). Consequently, Hate Crime has been enforced as a strategic priority within the surrounding area of Spirit Academy. During the same timeframe, there was an increased level of migration from Europe and a growth in the BAME learners that now equates to 32.1% in Primary schools and 29.1% in Secondary schools in England (DfE, 2017). This reflects the trend throughout Europe, where migrants are concentrated in schools with a high level of disadvantaged students (Lumby, 2016). Migrants are often sent to overcrowded, community housing (Finney, 2009) and developing migrant hotspots has become a trend within the UK. This corresponds with Spirit Academy and the surrounding area. During the time of writing, the school was undersubscribed based on the number of students on roll compared to the building capacity. As migrant places are offered, an increase can be seen in the number of migrant students from a range of backgrounds. The school now has a BAME population that is over 35% of the school population which has continued to increase every year.
The primary data will be collected through a case-study. This will be achieved by obtaining the perspectives of students regarding community cohesion within the school and how the SLT facilitates community cohesion within the school. This has been framed using the following research questions;
Q1 What are the perceptions of students regarding community cohesion within the school?
Q2 What is the school’s strategy to support community cohesion?
1.2 Personal Motivation
The overall structure of the dissertation takes the form of six chapters. The introductory chapter first gives a brief overview of the dissertation. Chapter two begins by laying out the theoretical dimensions of the research and investigates the complicated history of migration of different ethnicities into England that has led to the introduction of community cohesion policies. It also addresses government interventions introduced on a macro level that have ultimately impacted schools and learners on a micro level. Chapter three is concerned with the methodology employed in the study, by describing the instrumentation utilized when conducting the interviews and survey design along with emergent themes influencing the analysis. Chapter four analyses the results from the survey and interviews, addressing each research question in turn. Chapter five discusses the principal findings and the implications for future research into community cohesion. The final chapter summarises the research and reflects on the research aims and questions.
Existing research highlights that; curriculum relevance, lack of diversity in the workforce, lack of aspiration, low expectations, absent fathers, socioeconomic disadvantage, poor housing and institutional racism are the main factors that contribute towards poor attainment that have resulted in a disproportionate exclusion rates for Black children (see Demie, 2019, Gillborn, 2008, Tomilinson, 2008). This article discusses the importance of curriculum relevance and associated barriers.
Curriculum relevance and barriers
The National Curriculum is a framework consisting of a range of subjects and assessment criteria used in primary and secondary schools to enable continuity (DfE,2018). It was introduced during the conservative administration, under Thatcher’s government. It is argued that schools are still influenced by neoliberal discourse which has a negative impact on educational structures (Saltman, 2014). Similarly, Peters (2015: 643) identified that the curriculum is racialised as white was fundamental to the development of capitalism. Neoliberal approaches to education have resulted in the reduction of a diverse curriculum (Saltman, 2014). This has resulted in a restrictive assessment and framework that does not meet the needs of all learners, especially Black pupils (Lumby, 2016).
The National Curriculum is framed in an Anglocentric perspective where ‘victors’ have written the history and defined the narrative (Richardson, 2007). Textbooks used to support topics within the curriculum are primarily written by white publishing companies such as NCS Pearson and McGraw Hill Education, who have been accused of normalising a white ethnocentric narrative (Saltman, 2014; Peters, 2015; Gillborn, 2008).
For example, McGraw Hill Education has been recently accused of downplaying slavery by reinventing the narrative that African Slaves were ‘agricultural workers’, implying that they were migrants benefiting from the economy (Dart, 2015).
This is an example of the ‘racial erasure’ described by Bain (2018:14) which includes the erasure of white racism within the curriculum by the elimination of non-white contributors and whitewashing atrocity.
Over 61% of secondary schools in England have become acadamised (Local Government Association, 2017), therefore they do not have to follow the National Curriculum. This gives Academies the potential to modernise the curriculum to reflect the global population of the school. This will eventually develop an inclusive ethos of learners understanding a range of different cultures that, in theory, will increase positive relations and community cohesion within the school. With a range of different cultural backgrounds and nationalities in England, it is essential for the curriculum to reflect global society and to relate to the increasing global audience.
The National Curriculum is content driven and is therefore harder to accommodate those from a Black and Glocal Majority (BGM) background (Lumby,2016). However, there have been changes in the National Curriculum as an attempt to reflect the changes in society. These changes are described as ‘tinkering’ by Hayden (2013) – used as ‘bolt-ons’ to the curriculum such as; citizenship (Pike, 2007); British Values agenda (Rhamie, 2012); and the controversial Prevent strategy (Alam, 2013) – all designed for BGM learners to assimilate to British ideals, rather than a dynamic reform to cater for the global community.
Hayden’s (2013), comprehensive review on the international school’s curriculum concluded that International schools could be used as a benchmark for curriculum reform to reflect society and ensuring Global contributors are present in each subject. On a Micro level, Schools could integrate multiple perspectives to topics within the curriculum to make it more inclusive for BGM learners and examine the curriculum to ensure that whiteness is not the norm (by) which everything is measured (Lumby, 2016:117).
Alam, Y. and Husband, C. (2013). Islamophobia, community cohesion and counter-terrorism policies in Britain. Patterns of Prejudice, 47(3), pp.235-252.
Bain, Z. (2018). Is there such a thing as ‘white ignorance’ in British education?. Ethics and Education, 13(1), pp.4-21.
Dart, T (2015). Textbook passage referring to slaves as ‘workers’ prompts outcry. Educational Guardian, 20th August 2018. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/oct/05/mcgraw-hill-textbook-slaves-workers-texas
Demie, F., 2019. Raising achievement of black Caribbean pupils: good practice for developing leadership capacity and workforce diversity in schools. School Leadership & Management, 39(1), pp.5-25.
Gillborn, D. (2008) Racism and Education. London: Routledge.
Local Government Association. (2017). Inspection Statistics: Council Maintained Schools & Academies. Available:http://www.local.gov.uk/documents/10180/11431/Academies+and+LA+maintained+schools+2017.pdf/dd0ad0be-918f-4e38-8a8d-23878276d53a. Last accessed 24th Feb
Lumby, J and Coleman, M (2016) Leading for Equality, Making Schools Fairer. London: Sage.
Peters, M.A. (2015). Why is my curriculum white?. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 47:7, 641-646,
Pike, M.A. (2007). The state and citizenship education in England: a curriculum for subjects or citizens?. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 39(4), pp.471-489.
Rhamie, J., Bhopal, K. and Bhatti, G. (2012). Stick to your own kind: Pupils’ experiences of identity and diversity in secondary schools. British Journal of Educational Studies, 60(2), pp.171-191.
Richardson, B. ed. (2007). Tell it like it is: How our schools fail Black children. Bookmarks.
Saltman, K. (2014). Neoliberalism and Corporate School Reform: “Failure” and “Creative Destruction”. Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 36(4), 249–259
There is an urgent need to address the diversity of teachers in leadership positions within schools to highlight the changing demographics of the student population. A diverse leadership team represents the expectation of equality for learners and creates positive stereotypes as opposed to the subordinate roles that are often associated to staff from BAME origin
The statistics present a major concern; the ratio of BAME leaders to BAME students is disproportionate compared to that of their White counterparts. Steve Chalke the founder of the multi-academy trust, Oasis Community Learning, reports that as of 2017, the department of education statistics show that just 3.2 percent of state-funded secondary school head teachers identified as non-white, while for primary school head teachers the figure was 2.4 percent. In January 2016, according to official figures, just 39 secondary headteachers in England identified as black.
This has led to the following concerns;
With no BAME leaders how can we best tackle racism in our schools?
With no BAME leaders how do we encourage BAME students to aspire to be leaders themselves?
With no BAME leaders how do we address the unconscious bias that we are instilling in all our students, of any ethnicity: that leaders are white, and for that matter, most often male and middle-class?
The event ‘Breaking the cycle’ explores how we change the culture and promote BAME leadership in education. This event is hosted by Oasis Community Learning and TES in central London on March 9, 2019.
Break the Cycle – generating equity in education leadership takes place. For more information, click here.
Find Steve Chalke’s full interview on the TES website: https://www.tes.com/news/where-are-our-bme-leaders-education
Before starting my masters in educational leadership and enrolling on the BME leadership development programme, I have never heard of or met Black Headteacher/Principle. Within the school environment, black staff are typically represented in non-teaching roles such as; classroom assistance, pastoral staff, lunch time supervisors and cleaners. This was the spark to dig deeper into the rabbit hole and research into the under-representation of Black senior leaders in Education. Click here to read report.
- David Hermitt
- Diana Osagie
- Paul Mundy-Castle
- Patrick Cozier
- Matt Jones
- Jackie Ranger
- Alison Kriel
- Ava Sturridge-Packer
- Marva Rollins
- Allana Gay
- Adewoye Yomi
- Fumni Alder
- Ms K Campbell
Updated List (* BGM)
- Sonia Potter
- Nadine Bernard
- Monica Duncan
- Tina Haracksingh
- Sam Hoyer
- Increase Eko
- David Watson
- Dr Dayo Olukoshi
- Susan Service
- Nav Sanghara*
- Juliet Wright
- Dean Gordon
- Yana Morris
- Christine Raymont-Hall*
- Ken Johnson
- Umbar Sharif*
- Mitzi Nichol
- Paulette Osborne
- Nigel Oram
- Sonia Potter
- Qamar Riaz*
- Nadine Bernard
- Monica Duncan
- Tina Haracksingh
- Vijita Patel*
- Nicole Haynes
- Janet Sheriff
- Vijita Patel*
- Alison Moise-Dixon
- Shelly-Ann Goulbourne
- Leon Wilson
- Michael Barry
- Karen Giles
- Joanne L Herbert
- Devon Hanson
- Selwyn Calvin
- Hayden Abbott
- David Bromfield
- Nicholas Obie
- Paul Quinton
- Ken Morris
- Tonnie Read
- Joan Deslandes
- Pauline Osborne
- Catherine Ryan
- Martha Holder
- Paul Quinton
- Mohsen Oja
- Desmond Taylor
- Patricia Young
- Dean Gordon
- Heather Phillips
Five years ago, I was disturbed when I researched the statistics of the attainment of Black Caribbean children to find a legacy of underachievement and high levels of exclusion rates in UK public schools. Fast forward to the present day, nothing has changed! As a Black male teacher and scholar of ‘Caribbean’ decent this led me to embrace the responsibility to make a positive change and disrupt systematic educational barriers on a micro and macro level and raise the attainment, aspirations and opportunities for Black and Global Majority (BGM) children.
The latest figures reveal that there has been a sharp rise in permanent exclusions from English state schools. Black Caribbean children are more likely to be identified as having social and emotional difficulties (Lumby and Coleman, 2016). Therefore, Black Caribbean children have a permanent exclusion rate nearly three times higher (0.28 per cent) than the school population as a whole (0.10 per cent) (DfE, 2018). This is a major concern, as those children that are being excluded are five times more likely to go to prison (www.ed.ac.uk).
This is not a current trend, as Black Caribbean students have been overrepresented in permanent exclusions for decades. This is a part of a structure of institutionalised racism where ethnicity has subtly had an impact on perceptions, aspirations and identity of Black youths. This is a system where those who are advantaged by the current system have no interest in opposing change as discussed by Lumby and Coleman (2016).
By having a colour blind ‘one size fits all’ approach will not change the exclusion rates for Black Caribbean children. A cultural approach is needed, addressing the vast range of barriers these children face. In particular, addressing race-specific barriers and the lack of attention allocated towards race and racial identity, that ultimately leads to exclusion and underachievement of Black children.
Lumby, J and Coleman, M (2016) Leading for Equality, Making Schools Fairer. London: Sage.
A diverse group of Year 9 students from Black and Global Majority (BGM) backgrounds designed and presented assemblies focused on community cohesion this week. There aim was to celebrate global cultures within the school population. I was inspired to see the students so passionate and proud to celebrate their backgrounds and challenge any misconceptions.
“We have noticed that a lot of people don’t have much of an understanding of international culture. The Cohesion Project is about tackling issues surrounding discrimination as well as realising that no matter the race, religion, sexuality or culture of someone, we are all one united community and it is important we recognise and appreciate each other’s differences.” Ana, Age 13
The BGM student population has continued to increase annually, from 27.9% to 29.1% between 2016 -2017. Despite this, some schools still maintain a colour-blind stance that overlooks the acknowledgement of cultures from Global backgrounds. Consequently, this unconsciously fuels issues that relate directly to social segregation and community cohesion.
‘Tensions can grow where ethnic groups have segregated themselves from each other – whether by choice or circumstance – in housing, work, leisure and education’ UK Gov (DfES, 2003).’
Following the assemblies, the students will form the new Diversity Champions team. This will work in collaboration with The University Of Manchester’s BAME widening participation programme will be launching the project .
This project has been designed in response to the attack that took place in Manchester at the Ariana Grande concert. Reports of hate crimes and incidents in Greater Manchester rose by 500% in the month following the attack, police figures showed. They included a bomb threat, racist taunts, and graffiti. After this initial spike, and a high of 1,061 reported incidents, the figures have since dropped but remain slightly above 2016 levels.
This project has been designed to equip pupils with the right skills and knowledge to reduce all kinds of prejudice faced by a number of groups in society. It will enable the pupils to learn about a number of issues and topic’s giving them an open space to discuss and learn how to challenge and tackle discrimination. The champions will receive training from a number of partner organisations to improve their knowledge and understanding around mental health, equality and diversity, LGBT rights, conflict resolution and bystander roles and responsibilities.
Thanks again to Catherine Millan and Stephanie Lonsdale for bringing this project to life.
Book of the month- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo.
Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on issues of privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of colour and white Americans struggling with race complexities, So You Want to Talk About Race answers the questions readers don’t dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans.
Black Asian Minority Ethnic (abbreviated to BAME) practitioners are disproportionately under-represented in leadership positions in Secondary schools in England. There is a lack of inclusivity within the literature supporting the Distributed Leadership (DL) theory; power is currently distributed using the literature as a guidance which has implications due to a colorblind approach (Mabokela and Madsen, 2003) that fails to address issues of race and diversity. This study argues that institutionalized barriers within the recruitment process contribute towards the lack of BAME practitioners in leadership positions, examines the barriers for entry and discusses how the DL structure requires a new outlook in order to become inclusive for all practitioners. This paper concludes with the critical analysis of leadership development programs that are used to support BAME practitioners.
There is increasing concern that Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) teachers are under-represented in all levels of education in England. Furthermore, they are less likely to be promoted into leadership positions compared to their white counterparts (Johnson & Campbell Stevens, 2013; Coleman, 2010; Bush et al, 2006; Steel, 2015; DfE, 2015b). BAME practitioners appointed in leadership positions in secondary schools are only 3.6%, whilst BAME learner numbers have increased since 2006, 27.9% of learners in secondary schools are now from BAME origins (Johnson & Campbell Stevens, 2013, DfE, 2016c). There is an urgent need to address the diversity of teachers in leadership positions within schools to highlight the changing demographic of the student population (Johnson & Campbell Stevens, 2014). A diverse leadership team represents the expectation of equality for learners and creates positive stereotypes as opposed to the subordinate roles that are often associated to staff from BAME origin as discussed by Lumby (2008: 2,19). The statistics present a major concern; the ratio of BAME leaders to BAME students is disproportionate compared to that of their White counterparts.
This report will critically investigate the systematic barriers in education that prevent BAME teachers from attaining a leadership position in secondary schools. The first section of this assignment identifies barriers that a BAME group faces throughout the recruitment process, focusing on labelling, characteristics and discrimination. It will then go on to critically analyse barriers relating to inclusivity associated to the Distributed Leadership framework. It will then proceed to identify the gaps and areas of disregard when addressing issues of equality for BAME groups. Finally, it will analyse dedicated leadership programmes and the use role modelling used to support BAME practitioners.
Barriers and Limitations
Ethnicity and labelling
BAME is the latest terminology used to summarize ethnic groups in England. The main characteristic that people associated to the BAME group have in common, is that they are non-white British within the UK (Lumby and Coleman, 2016; Gillborn, 2008). Aspinal’s (2002) work on collective terminology is complemented by Richardson (2006). The research argues that using the label BAME could present limitations as the term Minority has connotations of inferiority, whilst the majority, being white people, belong to a single dominant group. Whilst the use of Black and Asian does not imply that the two ethnic groups belong to a minority. Ethnic grouping does not cater for the individual needs of different ethnic backgrounds. For example, issues of islamophobia as discussed by (Shah, 2010) is typically directed at Muslims commonly from an Eastern Asian origin may not apply to other ethnic groups within the BAME group. Therefore, issues need to be addressed independently rather than being placed in ‘ethnic groups’ (Corrigan, 2013; Gunter, 2004; Lumby, 2013) as it fails to cater for particular needs of individual ethnic groups.
Conversely, labels can be useful in highlighting areas of discrimination that ordinarily may be missed. If ethnic groups were not differentiated through the use of different labels, it would be more difficult to identify disparities within the education system for different groups of people. Together the studies from Aspinal (2002) and Richardson (2006) provide important insights into the limitations associated to terminology used to label collective ethnic groups. By adopting a more specific labelling system to cater to the needs of individual ethnicities, this might be a possible solution to break the stigma and negativity associated to the existing labels. This is further justified by the diversity of pupil demographics within the school sector in the UK. This view is supported by Lumby and Coleman (2016:108) who draws on the work of Campbell Stevens (2009), who has proposed the new appropriate term, Black and Global Majority (BGM).
Discrimination: Negative vs Positive
Various forms of discrimination (subtle and overt) could negatively impact the progression of BAME teachers going into leadership position as argued by Steel (2015). Studies by Bush et al (2006), Coleman & Campbell Stevens (2010) and Steel (2015) calls our attention to negative discrimination experienced by BAME senior leaders. The practitioners experienced discrimination through racism, negative stereotyping, isolation (Ogunbawo, 2012), low expectations and marginalization into roles relating to ethnicity. Positive discrimination has enabled some BAME practitioners to progress into leadership roles, and have found it advantageous Bush et al (2006). This has been supported by Ofsted Chief, Sir Michael Wilshaw who states in an interview; –
‘If I had two people applying for a job of equal merit and I felt we needed to increase the number of teachers from ethnic minority backgrounds to the staff then I would apply positive discrimination – as long as the two people were of equal merit’ (BBC News, 2015: unpaged)
Cases of positive discrimination are rare compared to the negative discrimination yet has a negative impact on BAME practitioners Ogunbawo (2012). Similarly, Coleman & Campbell Stevens (2010) study with BAME leaders in education concludes that positive discrimination is generally resented as it is counterproductive and has been used to benefit BAME practitioners on an individual basis. A long term solution has been suggested by Lumby, (2016) by schools creating and inclusive ethos that is reflected through training, policies and leadership structures.
Research confirms characteristics relating to race gender, religion and ethnicity have become barriers for progression for BAME (NASUWT and National College 2009; Steel, 2015; Coleman, 2010). Examples of barriers for progression related to characteristics is documented in the early work of Bass (1990), who outlined characteristics that are advantageous to becoming a successful leader. Social background and physical characteristics are two examples documented within the literature that are desirable attributes in increasing a leader’s chances of success.
Not all characteristics are accessible, resulting in inequality as agued by Di Tomaso and Hooijerg, (1996: 173-4) cited Gunter (2006) who states that native born white males have an advantage over other ethnicities in regards to higher paid jobs and promotions. Females in leadership positions are also disproportionately under-represented when compared to white males as discussed by Lumby and Coleman (2007), Fitzgerald (2003), Grant (2005) and Davidson (1992). However, complications arise for BAME females as further implications arise relating to gender and breaking through the concrete ceiling (Davidson, 1997) as biological characteristics relate to gender, whilst race also contributes to the additional discrimination (Coleman and Campbell Stevens, 2010). Leithwood, (2009) reviews traits and cognitive characteristics that are synonymous to leadership in education, but fail to mention characteristics that affect individuals of BAME origin. This is an example of a neutral race free pattern that is common in published literature focusing on Educational leadership. This fails to address characteristics that could be subjected to discrimination as argued by Lumby (2013). It includes ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and religion; presenting additional barriers for entry before even starting the application stage as discussed by (Coleman & Campbell Stevens, 2010).
Barriers within the recruitment process impact the progression of BAME teachers. Cultural barriers (Steel, 2015), Age (Bush et al, 2006; Coleman, 2010), Gender (Davidson, 1997), Ethnicity (Wilkins & Lall, 2011), Self-Confidence (Johnson & Campbell Stevens, 2013), Isolation and exclusion (Ogunbawo, 2012) are common barriers that prevent BAME practitioners from achieving a leadership position in education, explored by NASUWT and National College (2009). This combined with intersectionality, the focus of multiple characteristics (Lumby and Coleman, 2016), presents a complex picture for BAME practitioners to become appointed into senior roles in education.
During the recruitment process, Intersectionality (Lumby and Coleman, 2016) combined with unconscious bias (Beattie, 2012) is a recipe that could impact BAME applicants through negative discrimination. BAME practitioners are more likely to be stereotyped and profiled during a pre-selection process when applying for a role (Tillman, 2012). In a study by Bertrand and Muller (2004), a thousand resumes with a range of identities with the same credentials were sent out. The resumes contained Caucasian American sounding names and traditional African American names. The study found that White Americans had a 50% advantage of being selected over African Americans.
An example of good practice for encouraging diversity exists at the University of Manchester (University of Manchester, 2016), during the recruitment process they use an Implicit Association Test Beattie (2012), which measures unconscious attitudes to create a fairer employment procedure. A similar system in the secondary education recruitment process would be beneficial to promote quality and diversity. Similarly, the government funded charity, Teach First (2015), has restricted the occurrence of unconscious bias within their own recruitment. Through the ‘Name Blind’ process, a cohort of BAME trainee teachers has increased to 15%. This is evidence that similar ‘nameless’ systems should be considered as policy across the UK workforce as it promotes diversity and reduces discrimination.
Previous research has established that literature supporting the Distributed Leadership (DL) Theory has failed to acknowledge potential issues relating to inclusion, such as race, gender or religion, therefore creating barriers within the structure preventing BAME practitioners being appointed into leadership positions (Lumby 2013). Lumby has also argued that content in leading literature concerning DL, has failed to address fundamental issues of race and gender. Instead, the literature has been designed for practitioners with a unified identity, creating a delusional stance of inclusivity that ultimately excludes members of the BAME community (Gunter, 2004; Lumby, 2013; Johnson & Campbell Stevens, 2013).
DL has become the normative Leadership model in Education (Preedy, 2016; Spillane, 2006; Gunter et al, 2013). Functional approaches attached to the theory were designed to remove dysfunction (Gunter, 2013), so if problems occur, there is a system implemented to distribute responsibilities through to secondary leaders. This has eased the pressure for Headteachers/Principals (Hartley, 2010). Theoretically, this structure is designed to be inclusive, as the label insinuates, and is at the ‘cutting edge’ of thinking about leadership activity in schools’ (Harris, 2003:125). Ultimately, this is not the case. Lumby argues that theories that fail to address or to remain silent regarding barriers in educational leadership, have a detrimental impact on the progression of equality and inclusion (Lumby, 2013; 2016). Therefore, it has been categorized as barrier research as discussed by Johnson & Campbell Stevens, (2014). Inclusivity is an important factor and needs to be clearly defined as one of the core principals within a leadership framework.
Power and Distribution
The distribution of power is categorised under ‘Functional- Descriptive’ where it is focused on the ‘functioning processes’ of schools as discussed by Gunter (2013:6). With DL, the power remains with the Headteacher or Principal through design Spillane (2006), where leaders could decide individually or collectively on how responsibility could be distributed. Gronn (2002) citing Wenger (2000:429) suggests that a multiple leadership structure allows everyone within an organisation to contribute and progress into a leadership position, which is not always the case. In secondary schools, roles are commonly compartmentalized under the distributed leadership framework, with multiple layers of hierarchy. In many cases, power is distributed through subsumption, a hierarchy where each layer of responsibility has incremented power as discussed by Gronn (2002).
The DL theory used as a framework has major implications. The theory is still undefined therefore it is subject to the leader’s interpretation (Lumby and Coleman, 2016b; Harris, 2016). How leaders implement the DL framework relies on the functional roles stated in leadership literature, which typically focuses on how to perform its functions (Storey, 2004). This paradoxically has caused a hierarchical structure where power could be interpreted as delegation rather than distribution, contradicting the inclusive ethos associated to the framework (Lumby, 2016; Harris, 2003; Harris, 2016; Mifsud, 2015). From a leadership perspective, Coleman & Campbell-Stephens (2010) discusses the challenges of BAME leaders distributing power. Practitioners often face racism when in leadership positions, as staff have been undermined by authority based on ethnicity. This presents issues relating to inequalities and power resulting in barriers to lead (Lumby, 2013). Issues of race or any other barriers relating to BAME have not been addressed in any of the leading publications based on distributed leadership, this will need to be addressed in order to create an inclusive leadership framework.
An increasing amount of scholars (Gronn ,2016; Woods, 2016; Diamond and Spillane 2016), have critiqued the DL framework and propose alternative frameworks for DL. This has started to address inclusion and exclusion relating to the BAME community. Woods (2016) argues that social authority is an alternative method used to increase social interactions to break down the hierarchical framework commonly used when implementing a DL framework. Social authority does not have a principal or head of the organization that holds the majority of the power. Diamond and Spillane (2016) have suggested a new theory based on their research on distributed practice by highlighting implications of leadership and BAME communities. This acknowledges the changing environment in demographics in school education. It also mentions the importance of social interaction and the need for additional research. This is a breakthrough into the emergence of a leadership network that addresses issues of equality. In order to become more inclusive to BAME groups, the literature will be more relevant if it addresses the potential limitations and invest in research to improve entry for BAME groups into leadership positions.
Dismantling the concrete Barriers
Government initiatives have been implemented to help increase the number of BAME practitioners in leadership positions (DfE, 2015a). Numbers are increasing as more BAME are joining the teaching profession. New BAME trainee teachers were 14% of the total cohort between 2015 -2016, which was an increase of 2% compared to the previous academic year (DfE, 2015b; 2016b). Despite such increase, there are still not enough teachers joining the profession and a disproportionate amount of BAME trainee teachers underachieve and drop out of Initial Teacher Training (Wilkins, 2011). This is a contributing factor to the under-representation of BAME teachers. Steel (2015) forecasts that an additional 14,429 secondary teachers will need to be appointed to represent the total BAME learners in state funded secondary schools.
According to the charities; The Future Leaders Trust, Teach First and Teaching Leaders, up to 20,000 headteachers and senior leaders are due to retire by the year 2020 (BBC, 2016). This could be significant for schools towards building a diverse workforce in leadership positions in secondary schools in order to better represent the increase of BAME students. Government supported leadership programs such as the Leadership Equality and Diversity Fund, Future Leaders and Teach First have been introduced to increase the number of practitioners including those from BAME background.
Bespoke leadership development programs have been successful in increasing BAME practitioners in leadership positions. Investing in Diversity was set up specifically for BAME, funded by the London Centre of Leadership. Research was conducted focusing on the success of the ‘Investing in Diversity Program’ where 250 BAME participants were interviewed (Johnson and Campbell-Stephens, 2013). Two thirds of the participants who applied for promotion in leadership positions were successful. Almost all participants mentioned that the program was beneficial in clarifying areas of professional development and opened more opportunities to lead. BAME leadership development schemes are successful in preparing BAME candidates and developing confidence to overcome barriers. Bespoke leadership programs have been effective, due to the personalized approach breaking the legacy of ‘colorblind’ (Mabokela and Madsen, 2003; Johnson & Campbell Stevens, 2010; 2014) leadership programs that have failed to address the barriers that exclude BAME practitioners from achieving a leadership position in education. Topics such as social context, moral purpose and cultural awareness are examples of a personalized approach to help BAME practitioners to overcome barriers to promotion as discussed by Coleman (2010) and Johnson and Campbell-Stephens 2010; 2013). On the contrary this has been viewed as positive discrimination (Ogunbawo, 2012: p161) as some professionals have described BAME bespoke leadership programs as ‘patronizing’ and ‘inappropriate’. Ultimately the Investing in Diversity program has developed an innovative way of addressing areas of diversity and inclusion that would be beneficial to incorporate within major leadership development schemes.
The success of Investing in Diversity scheme emphasizes the relevance of dedicated leadership programs to increase the number of BAME in leadership positions and to help BAME practitioners overcome barriers and limitations as discussed in section 1 and 2. Substantial effort is required by mainstream government funded leadership development schemes to ensure that fairness, equality and diversity is embedded to be inclusive for all future leaders Ogunbawo (2012). This would start to increase the representation of BAME practitioners to reflect the diversity of BAME learners.
BAME leaders play an important role for BAME teachers to make a transition into leadership positions, breaking through the metaphorical concrete ceiling as discussed by Coleman (2010), Maylor (2009) and (Steel, 2015). The representation of BAME role models in leadership positions reinforces a positive mindset which will challenge cultural stereotypes and improve aspirations, encouraging BAME practitioners to aspire towards leadership positions in education.
Furthermore, there are also negative role models that plague communities that have become normalised for some youths living within inner city communities, commonly associated with a low economic status. (See Video below). This is an extreme example of negative stereotypes and role models; however, it reinforces the importance of positive role models in all levels of education.
Disclaimer: The following video has foul language viewer discretion advised
*Original video credit :Paul Mckenzie
Interviews of BAME headteachers in studies conducted by Johnson & Campbell Stevens (2013) Bush et al (2006) and Steel (2015) has revealed informal groups and mentoring has been beneficial in the pursuit of leadership positions. Contrary, Lumby (2007:106) draws on the work of Delgado (1991) who argues that ‘role modelling is supporting assimilation to the majority’. This relates to the importance of embracing culture and identity Bush et al (2006), these are important characteristics for BAME role models to promote inclusion and diversity. Overall, BAME role models emulate a visual representation of what could be achieved, which is essential to attract quality BAME practitioners in leadership positions. It is vital for leaders to recognize the importance of a diverse leadership structure to address negative stereotypes of BAME being associated to subordinate roles within schools (Colman, 2010) and become role models for the future generation of learners and aspiring leaders from BAME backgrounds.
This report has argued the importance of inclusion throughout the recruitment process and has revealed a range of systematic barriers which have contributed to the under-representation of BAME practitioners in leadership positions. Characteristics associated to BAME practitioners add disadvantage due to additional barriers that could fuel discrimination through the recruitment process, unless unconscious biases are addressed throughout.
Structural barriers within leadership frameworks, such as DL, need to be addressed to become more inclusive to inspire the future generation of teachers from BAME backgrounds, as it provides a route into breaking cultural stereotypes as discussed by Maylor (2009) and Steel (2015).
The government has introduced schemes to improve the number of BAME which has contributed to an increase in BAME practitioners through a range of training recruitment incentives. This has contributed towards an increase of BAME numbers, however they will be coming into a system that is still restrictive with race based inequalities (Johnson & Campbell Stevens, 2014) and structural barriers. Leaders are responsible for the education of staff when dealing with issues based on equity and equality, ensuring inclusivity is a part of a schools’ vision as discussed by Beattie (2012) and Lumby and Coleman, (2016). In order to dismantle the long line of subliminal institutionalized racism, a new outlook focusing on equality and fairness will have to be introduced on a national level on how schools are structured and managed (Johnson & Campbell Stevens, 2014).
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The appalling events at St Winefride’s Catholic primary school , where teachers asked children to dress as slaves as part of a Black History Month celebrations is more evidence that we need a new dynamic approach teaching Black History in our schools.
I am a passionate activist for a balanced global curriculum that is inclusive for all learners. As it currently stands, the Black Global Majority student population has continued to increase annually with an increase from 27.9% to 29.1% between 2016 and 2017, yet the national curriculum still takes a colourblind approach when dealing with global topics and issues (Demie, 2005).
There is a need for curricula that addresses the specific histories and cultures of racially marginalised students as discussed by Chikkatur (2013). Without the contributions of Black and Global Majority citizens, this country would not be the Great Britain as we know it today. It is up to us to take a stance to introduce Black History and its contributions into our curriculum on a micro, meso and macro level. It is important to make curriculum links with Black and Global Majority inventors, scientists, civilisations etc, as various studies have found that it will help students to raise their aspirations and understand the background and development of our diverse society (King, 2016; Martell, 2014; Richardson, 2007). A good time to introduce this would be during Black History Month.
This year we used the amazing Catherine Millan from the University of Manchester, who delivered a workshop for young people and teachers about Black History Month and why it exists. Catherine has lots of experience in anti-racist work, having previously created a teaching pack with the Anthony Walker Foundation.
You can contact Catherine directly at Catherine.firstname.lastname@example.org
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King, L.J., 2016. Teaching black history as a racial literacy project. Race Ethnicity and Education, 19(6), pp.1303-1318.
Martell, C.C., 2013. Race and histories: Examining culturally relevant teaching in the US history classroom. Theory & Research in Social Education, 41(1), pp.65-88.
Richardson, B. ed., 2007. Tell it like it is: How our schools fail Black children. Bookmarks.
The groundbreaking Investing in Diversity training was set up by Rosemary Campbell-Stephens, specifically for practitioners of Black and Global Majority (BGM) heritage. This bespoke leadership programs has been effective due to the personalised approach breaking the legacy of previous ‘colorblind’ leadership programs that have failed to address the barriers that exclude BGM practitioners from achieving a leadership position in education.
This weekend I was delighted to be involved in the Authentic Leader BGM development residential. The programme built on the investing and diversity legacy with a focus on authenticity and the principles of success in leadership. Hosted by Rosemary Campbell-Stephens, on behalf of the BGM leadership development programme, organised by David Hermitt, the CEO of Congleton Multi-Academy Trust .
Being surrounded by influential practitioners of BGM heritage, that have progressed to become CEO’s of MATs, Head Teachers, and OFSTED inspectors was empowering. The event covered topics such as social context, moral purpose and cultural awareness . These are examples of a personalised approach to help BGM practitioners to overcome barriers to promotion.
Current statistics show that only 13% of teachers and 6.9% of senior leaders in England are BGM. The BGM leadership development programme was funded by the National College of Teaching and Learning as an initiative to increase practitioners in leadership positions
Upcoming BGM leadership events;
NUT Black Teachers’ Conference 3- 5th November 2017
NUT Equal Access to Promotion – 24-25 November 2017 – Residential
Diana Osagie Courageous leadership: Keep checking website for new events and dates
Hannah Wilson: Diverse Educators
Black British History: Black influences on British Culture. This new book aimed at parents and teachers who would like solid information to teach their children Modern Black British History, and to exercise the historical skills required by the National Curriculum.
“Considering the disproportionate impact of the criminal justice system upon African Caribbean men, why are so few of our young men going to university to study law?” – THE LEMN SISSAY LAW BURSARIES.
So Coronation Street aims to increase diversity of Black and Asian characters and writers… and about time too! This is great news for young aspiring writers and actors from underrepresented groups. The importance of Black Global Majority role models on television is paramount. I hope when the time comes the storylines are relevant and present Black and Asian people in a different light rather than the negative stereotypical roles we are use to seeing on TV .
Once upon a time I had a regular role on Coronation Street’s ‘Nicks Bistro’ as a supporting actor. During 2010-2013 there were only a few Black and Asian Crew members and cast. As a supporting artist, I was the one of a few black male representation on the show – even though I only a muttered a few words from time to time. (See my 15 mins of fame below, blink you will miss it!)
Fast forward to 2017, there is more of a diverse representation on the cobbles which is progressive. With 17% of the cast being Black Asian origin.
Producer Kate Oates also wants to recruit writers from a wider range of ethnic backgrounds to tell their stories. Recognising that the show would benefit from greater diversity to appeal to it’s vast audience;
“And we need more black and Asian writers, to bring out the truth of those voices. It’s important to keep the show strong and relevant.” Source radio times
Representation Matters. Using a range of examples of Black and Global Majority (BGM) role models across all of the subjects taught in schools will contribute towards changing the narrative of cultural stereotypes in education. BGM role models should be used all year round, not just during Black history month or a themed cultural activity! This will ultimately promote positive stereotypes and provide options of alternative professional career paths that will contribute towards breaking the concrete ceiling for the future generation. BGM representation could be used in every subject in the curriculum. For example;
Science: George Washington Carver. Scientist and inventor of an automobile that as more sophisticated than Henry Ford’s model T
Scientist / Inventor Design and Technology: Garrett Morgan. Inventor of the traffic lights and gas mask
Business Studies: The Black Wall Street (Greenwood, Tulsa) one of the most prominent concentrations of African-American businesses in the United States during the early 20th century
IT / Computing: Jerry Lawson, Inventor of the modern day console
Art: Jean-Michel Basquiat. Artist and responsible for the most expensive painting sold $110 million
English: Maya Angelou
Mathematics: Katherine Johnson Mathematics was responsible for putting the first people on the moon
Keep checking the website the summer for SoW for a range of subjects.
Utter disbelief! Racism and inequality in education has always been a underlying problem, however, its been a long time since I have witnessed an example as blatant as this.Instances like this are a justification for my research and dedication towards leading equality and diversity in education.
I will go as far to say that the Rochester Grammar School’s ‘Slave auction task’ are the actions of practitioners with racist ideals pushing the boundaries of education. This may be through unconscious or conscious biases that need to be addressed to ensure that racism is repudiated within education.
It is imperative that equality and diversity training should be mandatory for staff and pupils to continue to educate those who lack basic common sense. Especially in the above circumstance!! Instances like this should be brought to the forefront and not be swept under the carpet like its ‘no big issue’.