Multicultural Britain: Assimilation, Community Cohesion and Discriminatory Policies

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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). It was considered in the national interest to preserve the ‘British race’ due to the ‘dwindling birth-rate’ post Second World War (Paul, 1997:2). Consequently, multiculturalism became a threat and ethnicity a focus for discrimination and racism (Lumby, 2016). Black and Brown labour were essential to the success of both world wars; however, racism, rejection and persecution was the overarching narrative presented by government and media (Eddo-Lodge, 2017).

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

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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

 

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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

 

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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

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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.

 

Current situation

 

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.

 

Summary

 

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.

Bibliography

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An investigation into community cohesion within an inner-city secondary school: Introduction

1.0 Introduction

 

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

 

My personal experiences relating to race equality and diversity have led me to a career in education and prompted this research.  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 BAME cohort increasing every year. At the time, the curriculum was exclusively Anglo-centric, with topics relating to identity, cultural similarities and diversity excluded from the curriculum. This contributed towards a toxic racialised environment where pupils did not integrate, misconceptions about various cultures were not challenged and pupils from BAME backgrounds were marginalised. This led to racial tension between the host community and BAME students with little intervention from the school.

With the re-emergence of racial incidents and an overall spike in hate crime, there are still concerns regarding race equality and diversity within our schools. I intend to investigate these issues with the aim to contribute towards the improvement of equality and diversity within schools in the U.K.

1.3 Structure

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.

 

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Systematic Barriers: Decolonising the Curriculum

Systematic Barriers

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 caption identifying slaves as “workers” appears in a McGraw-Hill World Geography textbook.

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).

Bibliography 

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 & Management39(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

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‘Break the Cycle’ – the under-representation of BAME leaders in education

 

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

 

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Out of 21,356 headteachers in England, only 277 are Black! Who are they?

BGM headteachers. Left to right: 1) Matt Jones 2) Ava Sturridge-Packer 3) David Hermitt 4) Diana Osagie 5) Jacqueline Newsome 6) Paul Mundy-Castle

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.

There are currently 21.356 headteachers  in England, however, only 277 are black. The statistics present a major concern; the ratio of Black and global majority (BGM) leaders to BGM students is disproportionate compared to that of their White counterparts.  On a positive note, Black headteachers do exist and are flying the flag and contributing towards changing the narrative of the Black and Global Majority representation in education. They are living proof that the concrete ceiling can be broken and have laid the foundation for the future generation of BGM majority teachers. Here are some of the BGM practitioners identified as senior leaders in England. Please feel free to add to the list;

 

 

  • 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
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Systematic Barriers: Black pupils are three times more likely to get excluded than any other ethnic group

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, this epidemic will not change the exclusion rates for Black Caribbean children. A cultural approach is needed, addressing the vast range of barriers these children face

Over the upcoming weeks, I will attempt to add more context to the issue by addressing race-specific barriers and the framework of colour-blind racism- the lack of attention allocated towards race and racial identity, that ultimately leads to exclusion and underachievement of Black children.

 

Additional reading;

Lumby, J and Coleman, M (2016) Leading for Equality, Making Schools Fairer. London: Sage.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/permanent-and-fixed-period-exclusions-in-england-2016-to-2017

 

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Cultural recognition in Schools: Diversity Champions

Diversity Champions. The University of Manchester BAME Widening Participation Programme

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

Community cohesion assembly slide: Congo
Community cohesion assembly slide: Angola

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.

 

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Book of the month-So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

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.

 

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