I was involved in the recent Sunday Times article alongside Zoe Thompson and Joe Broadfield discussing the progression made at Oasis Community Learning and the work towards the decolonisation of our curriculum. This is a progressive article and the start of leading educational change through an anti-racist lens within our schools.
October is Black History month and during assemblies at Oasis Academy Media City, we have been focusing on the theme of ‘Modern Greats’ trailblazers making an impact by breaking the glass ceiling for future generations.
- Guest speakers from the North west, including Kemoy Walker MBE, Cristina Taylor CEO of AIM SKY HIGH (ASH)
- Workshops focused on Heritage, culture and identity to run throughout the academic year with the Race Trust
- The talks from black students in HE/aspirational careers are back on this year through GM Higher. The project aims to bring together current University of Manchester Black students and Black school pupils to critically reflect and share their lived experiences as a Black student gmhigher.ac.uk/events/black-history-trail
- With Insight, a course through Christine Kinnear’s ‘With Insight’, that will help students successfully apply to the UK’s leading Universities. Mentored by Black heritage University students they’ll visit Manchester University campus, and get a taste for what they could be working towards.
We will continue to proactively build a school experience and curriculum that supports all children and young people to become people of good character who are active and inclusive. In addition, we will ensure that within our curriculum we are focused on postive representation from Black and Global Majority backgrounds and auditing our current curriculum to ensure that it is not creating or sustaining a culture that stems from colonialism or systems of oppression. See Curriculum update and Anti-racist Audit
I have included some generic slides that I have used for assemblies this year. Feel free to use, modify and share.
Subject specific resources / links
Black History Month website: https://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk/
Health and Social Care
The first person to reach the north pole
This academic year, we have introduced an Anti-Racist approach at Oasis Academy Media City UK, focusing on; The Curriculum, Staff Training and CPD, Student Education, Community, and Leadership and Management. We simply could not have made the impact that we have had in this short time without these fantastic community partners.
Wisdom Against Racism
These sessions are focused on empowering our students and challenging and disarming racism to succeed in their education, careers, and personal lives. The interventions were designed to provide a platform for kids of colour to have a safe space to discuss topics relating to race as well as including islamophobia, identity, and culture.
Recent sessions were focused on the current conflict in Palestine, providing a platform for our students to discuss issues through the lens of at it from the Israeli and Palestinian perspective with the aim of strengthening community cohesion.
The aim of this professional development programme is to support young 1st and 2nd generation migrants as well as all disadvantaged youths and to help them succeed in Britain. The programme is free and applicants are between 16 and 25 years old and they gain mentoring, workshops, work experiences and connections. Migrant Leaders now has senior mentors from more than 95 FTSE100 and leading firms.
Foresight in conjunction with The University of Manchester
Next academic term we have scheduled online sessions focused on empowering black-heritage students with the confidence, knowledge, and ability to successfully apply to the UK’s leading universities as a gateway to a more prosperous future. A special thanks to Catherine Millan for her continued support over the last five years.
Football Beyond Borders
FBB supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are passionate about football but disengaged at school, in order to help them finish school with the skills and grades to make a successful transition into adulthood. We do this by providing long-term, intensive support, built around relationships and young people’s passions, in the classroom and beyond.
Anne Frank Trust
Using Anne Frank’s life and diary as a starting point, we empower young people with the knowledge, skills and confidence to challenge all forms of prejudice and discrimination. In doing so, we partner with schools, local authorities, the criminal justice sector and others to deliver educational programmes alongside acclaimed exhibitions to young people in a variety of settings.
Odd Arts specialise in delivering theatre-based programmes that challenge and change attitudes and behaviours. In our case, improving community cohesion. They work with participants to devise theatre, from their own experiences as well as touring professional interactive theatre performances on challenging topics. This is all underpinned by: Restorative Approaches; Non-Violent Communication and Trauma Informed Approaches.
Kids of Colour
A platform for young people of colour to explore race, identity and culture and challenge the everyday, institutionalised racism that shapes their lives. Used for Staff Training and student support.
Leeds Beckett University
We have signed up to the Anti-Racist School Award is an assessment tool to evaluate current practices and initiatives within your school. It enables evaluation of the overall anti-racism support and strategies that exist within your school, whilst also helping to give structure to the development plan for any improvements.
This was the original framework that started us on our journey. Theme 4 focuses on recognising the emotional needs and development of pupils.
Show Racism the Red Card
We have recently signed up to a 7 week online course that give access to a range of national speakers on specific subjects such as protected characteristics, Antisemitism, Islamophobia and Gipsy Roma Travellers.
Diverse Educators is a grassroots community that ensures that everyone is celebrated in every classroom in every school.
Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation
Provides opportunities for children and young people to have their voices heard, make the changes they would like to see and create a society that treats everyone with fairness and respect
The National Curriculum is framed in an Anglo centric perspective, where victors and ‘pioneers’ have written the history and defined the narrative in all subjects. Consequently, this has resulted in the ‘racial erasure’, such as the whitewashing of atrocity and the elimination of non-white contributors within the curriculum. It is essential for schools 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 in preparation of becoming Global Citizens.
Anti-Racist Curriculum Audit – History
We aim to implement an anti-racist and anti-oppressive approach by reviewing and implementing changes in our curriculum, through the lens of our Black and Global Majority student population. We were inspired by the NEU anti-racist framework https://neu.org.uk/media/11236/view which was used to ensure that the curriculum has broad and balanced representation.
For example, this Scheme of Learning developed by the History curriculum leader @msmarshhistory1 to ensure that there is;
- Increasing representation of events and individuals who are the ‘Global Majority
- Move away from solely focusing on the history of white, Western Europeans with political power
- Representation is not merely one of ‘historical oppression’ but diverse in its specific historic enquiry, highlighting role models
- The work of social historians is at the forefront of more historical inquiries
- The intersection between different characteristics e.g. class is recognised whilst acknowledging there is no hierarchy of oppression
- Recognition that changing the content of the curriculum is not enough, staff must be racially literate in order to effectively deliver this curriculum in an anti-racist way.
I am absolutely delighted to be launching the new book “With Women” with our students at OAMUK during independent reading.
This book was created with midwives of Black and Asian heritage from Manchester and a group of local school pupils and @universityofmanchester students to increase numbers of student midwives from Black and Asian heritage to come into the profession.
Many women in the UK that are from Black and Asian backgrounds have needs that are culturally specific when they give birth. Research has shown that midwives from a similar heritage to women they care for can improve their experience in hospital, and have a safer birth.
Noting that low numbers of student midwives are of Black and Asian heritage, this project involves promoting midwifery as a career to young people of colour.
The book is about the journey Manchester midwives have taken to become a midwife describing their background, education and current role
An electric version of the book is FREE TO DOWNLOAD from a link in the article below and I have a number of hard copies that will be distributed to schools and community groups in the next few weeks. IF YOU ARE A TEACHER OR WORK WITH GROUPS OF YOUNG PEOPLE please get in touch and I will send you out a hard copy before they all go!
Following the feedback from our staff anti-racism training, we have produced a ‘racism interrupters’ help script laminated into cards to fit into staff lanyards along with a ‘restorative conversations’ help script. The aim is to encourage and develop the confidence of staff to address any concerns relating to racism, in particular, suspected micro-aggressions within the classroom. Download an editable version below.
Local coverage in Manchester Evening News, discussing the Anti-Racist education that we have implemented at our school and Oasis Community Learning. The aim is still to make an educational change and inspire schools to take the same approach. There is still a long way to go.
Excited to work with the University of Manchester PHD History students and Graduates in partnership with Heritage Schools to support the development of Local Black History Resources for schools with the aim of promoting Black positive histories, local Black role models and stories of success. Students will research local Black history and will present the material to teachers to turn into lesson plans and resources that can be integrated into the curriculum. The materials produced by students will then become a resource for the Heritage schools to pass on to schools across Greater Manchester. Materials will also be highlighted on the University of Manchester Hidden History resource page for teachers prompting the work of the heritage fund.
The University of Manchester PhD students have a range of specialist expertise including Migration urban regeneration, multiculturalism, Black Britons in the Industrial North, Oral histories of Black Pioneers and Trailblazers in Manchester. Working with our teachers, various resources including the scheme of learning, lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations will be developed at the end of the 2021 academic year.
I am delighted to announce that I have been shortlisted for the 100 inspiring Teachers campaign for The Guardian and @GuardianLabsUK partnering with the Get into Teaching (department of education). The article is now published, focused on positive Black representation in education and the Anti-Racist approach implemented within Oasis Community Learning, used to tackle institutionalised racism in and beyond our schools. See the full article below;
Following the Oasis Community Learning, Break The Cycle conferences earlier this year (see Session 1 and Session 2), saw the launch of an aspirational plan with the aim of implementing an anti-racist approach at Oasis Academy Media City, focusing on decolonising the structures in education through; Curriculum Reviews, Staff Training and CPD, Student Education, Community, and Leadership and Management.
It has been a challenging start to the school year, due to Covid-19 and limited-time capacity to facilitate the project, where the majority of the work was completed outside of the school hours. Despite this, I’m proud to report that significant milestones have been achieved in the first term;
Curriculum Review and Adaptation
Review curriculum areas to ensure they have contributions from Black and Global Majority contributors.
- Audit the cultural diversity of each Programme Of Study (POS)– each POS representative of different cultures across the five years of study.
- Audit the teaching and learning through an anti-racist leans using the NEU anti-racist framework
- Review and adapt the PSHE curriculum based on the feedback from students
Review the subject areas to ensure that they have career paths that are inclusive for BGM students.
- List of industry professionals , coaches and mentors that could be used for interventions through the race trust (launch term 2)
- Introduction to Black and Global History, in conjunction with the University of Manchester and the Heritage fund. UOM will find local trailblazers for core subjects (Maths, English and Science) with the aim of including these within the lessons. https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/hub/107833/news?page=9
- Anti-Racist training in conjunction with local Grass root organisations that focuses on Anti-Racism to provide a framework for PSHE lessons
- Opportunity to discuss issues relating to race, politics, culture, and identity with teaching staff chairing the conversations, addressing any misconceptions
- Dropdown days consisting of Anti-Racist workshops timetabled throughout the academic year
- Ensure that all cultural events are included in the calendar- for example refugee week, Diwali, Eid, Chinese New Year, Wind rush day etc. Robust plan for Black History Month. Use the OCL equality and diversity calendar as a framework for upcoming events.
- Visual and communication audit report. All areas of communication that is associated to OAMCUK (Website, School Newsletters, Photos around the academy, classrooms)
- Targeted inventions for vulnerable BGM students / BGM NEET / BGM High prior attainers with mentors from BGM community, from a wide range of sectors. EG entrepreneurs from the business sector to create a ‘school to industry pipeline.’
- Expand the Black and Global History trail to all subjects within the curriculum
- Anti-Racist training in conjunction with local Grass root organisations that focuses on Anti-Racism resources to provide a framework for PSHE lessons. Opportunity to discuss issues relating to race, politics, culture, and identity with teaching staff chairing the conversations, addressing any misconceptions
Staff Training and CPD
Staff to become diversity champions, becoming experienced in an anti-racist and anti-oppressive pedagogy
- Deliver a session on being diversity champions as staff
- Anti-Racist Working party group (meeting termly)
- Anti-racist training (Booked in for half term 2)
- Anti-racist CPD structured in half term from specialist providers
- Unconscious and implicit bias training
Targeted interventions for Black and Global Majority students
- Review the area of concern (e.g. Careers / subject area) that needs intervention.
- Targeted tutorials with the University of Manchester and Aim Higher for Black students interested in Optometry, Dentistry, and Physics.
- Student ambassadors. Focused on an anti-racist approach and community cohesion
- Student voice (Half Termly Termly) See survey https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=zz3XjXy17EC3-HVbUS2fe_xHa7NdGvVLrMTZ2vc5tthUOVFERktYUEkxMlhXNkhVRjVNRDROUkFDOS4u
- Regular meetings with students that have been involved in racist attacks on other students. Far-right extremism/anti-racism interventions
- Anti-Racist lessons, Followed up by targeted Interventions focused on the impact of Hate Crime
- Anti-racist ambassador training
Leadership and Management
Term 1 Behavior Policy review: Critically Review existing school policy through the lens of Black and Global Majority Learners
- Racist incidents 3 days in Internal exclusion that could lead to a Fixed Term Exclusion
- Return to school meeting with parents and SLT
- The incident is referred to the police and local authorities
- Repeat offenders will be Fixed Term Excluded
- Anti-racist course 6-week course to be completed
- Amended Anti-Racist section in the home school agreement for parents and staff to sign
- Review existing performance management content and include a target aligned with becoming an anti-racist school
- Audit of racial indents sanctions and restorative interventions
- Name Blind recruitment process when appointing new staff
- Positive discrimination focused on the recruitment of Good/ outstanding BGM practitioners
- BGM representation on the OCL equivalent of the Board of governors
- Clear recruitment to leadership progression for BGM teachers
Improve local community links
- Weekly meetings with the community strategy response team
- Collaborations with local anti-racist organizations
- Weekly meetings with the community strategy response team (Neighbourhood development officers, Salford Youth Service, Local Agencies focused on online safety, Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour updates from the local PCSO’s)
- Increased involvement with community partners, utilising the Oasis Hub
“Life has no limitations apart from the ones you make for yourself”
In 2016, I decided that it was time to start a Master’s Degree in Education. I was proud to be starting my master’s in Educational Leadership at The University of Manchester. This was self-financed and had completed the course part-time, whilst supporting a young family and teaching on a full-time timetable. It was a challenging year in every aspect, to say the least! At first, I was fixated on my own limitations in relation to academic writing. I attended every intervention available focused on academic writing, downloaded every academic podcast and attended the university library after teaching on a daily basis in the first academic school. I had to live and breathe this on a daily in order to succeed.
Many people questioned the purpose of doing a master’s, as it wasn’t essential for progression to a leadership position within education. Masters in Educational Leadership was the obvious next stage in my career development. My purpose was always to pursue a career in teaching to lead educational change to make the educational system more inclusive for Black and Global Majority learner. I knew that I needed the knowledge and the credentials to be taken seriously.
The feedback that I received from my first assignment ‘A critical investigation into race in secondary education in England’ blew my mind. It gave me the confidence that I needed to progress no matter how challenging things may get and ultimately I was actually enjoying writing about a subject matter that I am deeply passionate about. The theme of my assignments was focused on social justice and inclusion in education, where I graduated last year with distinction.
It was at this point I thought it important to share my academic writing and developed the leading equality website, focusing on concerns relating to race in education. (click here for the full assignment)
Fast forward to the present day, I am able to utilise my specialist knowledge developed during my masters, in leading educational change by introducing an Anti-racist approach for Oasis Community Learning.
Interview with Dwain Brandy discussing strategies used to implement an anti racist approach at Oasis Academy Media City.
There is a general assumption that merely encouraging people to mix in an urban context will result in positive interaction and community cohesion (Hemming, 2011:65). This certainly does not work in a school context. Moreover, there are systemic and institutionalised barriers that prevent inclusion and multicultural community cohesion in schools in England. This section will identify significant barriers that impact community cohesion and integration within multicultural and disadvantaged, urban secondary schools in England.
Policy and Government
In 2013, the government institutionalised policies relating to community cohesion, which became a statutory duty for schools in England Jones (2013). However, there was a lack of policy framework available for long term community cohesion strategies (Engel, 2013). This gave schools the autonomy to set their own priorities and strategies relating to community cohesion (Engel, 2013). This has led to community cohesion policies being interpreted in different ways, depending on the school context and in some cases, even saw an increase in social segregation due to the interpretation of the broad guidelines. Some examples of poor interpretation of community cohesion policies that have a negative impact on learners are; Community cohesion policies being used as a platform for social advantage, where some ethnically diverse schools who sought to attract white middle class parents for a multicultural ‘experience’, without doing anything to combat social inequality actually contributed towards social segregation within their schools (Kirkham, 2016); schools failing to manage issues of diversity, identity and social cohesion (Rhamie, 2012); and ineffective induction and integration of migrants into the school population (Lumby, 2016).
On a macro level, policies that relate to community cohesion need to be clearly distinguished so the data is comparable and measured for their success (Runnymede, 2018). Community cohesion policies being driven by a minimalist interpretation of requirements (Wilkins, 2014) have not led to any changes in the functioning and daily realities of the school (Gillborn, 2008). This resulted in a legacy of community cohesion policies being a low priority on a micro level within the school. The success of community cohesion practices is now reliant on individual schools’ equality, diversity and inclusion policies and how these are implemented by the practitioners within the school (Engel, 2013).
Ofsted is a neutral professional body used to regulate care and education for young people (Mogra, 2016). In 2008, it began to inspect schools’ contribution towards community cohesion. The assessment criterion focusing on community cohesion was integrated into OFSTED school inspections. This only lasted until 2010, as it was decided by parliament that they will no longer inspect community cohesion (Engel, 2013). Instead, there is now a focus on how equality and diversity is implemented within the school.
The term ‘Community Cohesion’ has been removed in the latest Ofsted school inspection handbook, although practitioners still have the duty to promote community cohesion within their schools. The focus is now on equality and diversity for those with protected characteristics within the school and the wider community.
Wilkins’ (2014) study argues how Ofsted have failed to use performative accountability layers to address race equality issues. Recommendations were suggested for Ofsted to define inspections guidelines, restore their impartiality within educational matters (Mogra, 2016) and to revise the Ofsted guidance for inspection relating to equality and diversity (Wilkins, 2014) to cater more towards multicultural communities
The National Curriculum (NC) 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 neo-liberal 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 (Lumby, 2016)
There is currently a lack of anti-racist education – a program designed to eliminate the clarification of people based on skin colour (Peters, 2015) and culturally inclusive diet within the national learning activities within the NC, which is fundamental to combatting racist attitudes, consequently having a negative impact on Community Cohesion.
The NC is framed in an anglocentric perspective where ‘victors’ have written the history and defined the narrative (Richardson, 2007). Text books 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 have 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 NC. 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 NC is content driven and is therefore harder to accommodate those from a BAME background (Lumby,2016). However, there have been changes in the NC 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 BAME 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 bench mark for a curriculum reform to reflect society and ensuring Global contributors are present in each subject. This is a long-term solution that needs to be made on a macro level for a dynamic and inclusive global curriculum to foster genuine positive community cohesion within the school environment. On a Micro level, Schools could integrate multiple perspectives to topics within the NC to make it more inclusive for BAME learners and examine the curriculum to ensure that whiteness is not the norm (by) which everything is measured (Lumby, 2016:117).
There are various challenges associated with staffing that affect community cohesion within schools. When a school has predominantly white staff and white students, it tends to take longer for them to embed equality and diversity into all aspects of the school (Richardson, 2007); 20% of teachers employed in the most disadvantaged schools leave each year, as opposed to 15% of teachers within the least disadvantaged schools (Allen, 2018). Consequently, this leads to high staff turnover that impacts student attainment and any progress made towards cultural inclusion.
BGM teachers are vastly underrepresented as practitioners in all levels of education in the UK. Within a secondary school context, latest published Figures have revealed that only 6.9% are in a leadership position and 13.5% in teaching roles (DfE, 2016), including teaching and leadership positions (Lumby, 2016). Nationally, 30.3% of pupils are from a minority ethnic background (DfE, 2017). Correspondingly, there is a discrepancy between a large amount of BAME learners and a small amount of BAME teachers which is a concern, as BAME learners need BAME role models to break through the ‘concrete ceiling’ and challenge cultural negative stereotypes of BAME staff being in subordinate roles within schools (Lumby, 2007). This is due to poor retention rates and the lack of BAME teachers joining the profession (Wilkins, 2014).
On the contrary, from a macro perspective it may be perceived as problematic if the ratios of BAME staff did reflect BAME students, due to the threat of minorities representing a challenge to majority traditional values within a Neoliberal framework that has been designed to sustain inequality (Gillborn, 2008; Mogra, 2016).
New migrants are often sent to community housing and developing migrant hotspots that are predominantly located within disadvantaged, working-class communities (Finney, 2009). During 2017 there was an increased level of migration into Europe and a growth in BAME learners who now equate to 32.1% of pupils in Primary schools and 29.1% in secondary schools in England (DfE, 2017). This has had a direct impact on school choice and has increased the influence of ‘white flight’, a term used by Hemming (2011) where white parents opt out of schools that have a high population of migrant children and children with EAL (Lumby, 2016).
This has resulted in schools that have a large cohort of EAL students and migrants being viewed as undesirable, whilst mono-ethnic schools with a high white population have become oversubscribed as discussed by Lumby (2016). In some cases, schools have the opportunity to select the highest attainers, further discriminating against migrants and this has a clear negative impact on community cohesion (Lumby, 2016)
However, some schools are now promoting multiculturalism as ‘commodity or beneficial resource’ (Kirkham, 2016: 385). Kirkham (2016) investigates the multiculturalism trend and researches a school, that actively seeks to track white middle-class parents who want a diverse multicultural education to gain a reality of the future of living as global citizens.
Class and race are intersecting characteristics that influence community cohesion. In the previous section, we discussed how and when the BAME school population increases, the white middle-class population decreases (Keddie, 2014). Therefore, migrant learners are often segregated with children from disadvantaged backgrounds (Runnymede, 2018; Lumby, 2016).
Social economic background is another barrier that impacts positive relationships and cohesion in areas that have long term unemployment and have a high risk of economic marginalisation and social exclusion (Flint, 2008).
Mcghee (2006) argues that community cohesion strategies outlined by government focus on the improvement of race inequality and integration of new migrants, which has taken precedence over, and excludes, existing white disadvantaged host communities in England. Subsequently, causing hostility that negatively impacts community cohesion. As a result, schools are at risk of concentrating solely on ethnic diversity and excluding class diversity (Kirkham, 2016), this is where tensions between schools and beliefs of parents could clash causing social segregation.
To improve this injustice, Lumby (2016:61) suggests how schools can start to analyse the degree to which segregation by socioeconomic class and other intersecting characteristics are present in the school. This would be a suitable start to devise a long-term solution for positive community cohesion.
2.5 Summary and Emerging Issues
To conclude this section, the study of literature relating to institutionalised barriers relating to community cohesion has revealed that:
- Historically, the political system in England maintains the power and resources that has a rhetoric of ‘white ignorance’ that contributes to white benefit and non-white disadvantage (Bain, 2018:10), therefore it was not designed to support multicultural England.
- Government initiatives focused on community cohesion and inclusion have ultimately led to intersecting systematic inequalities that has compromised policies designed to integrate multicultural communities.
- Policies designed to manage Multicultural communities within schools have been subject to interpretation of the policies that have a colour-blind undertone (Lumby, 2008), concealed under the veneer of government requirements.
- Schools need to create more opportunities that aid community cohesion and positive relationships between different cultural groups and need to further investigate equality, diversity and social justice within secondary education.
- Barriers: to community cohesion within the school include lack of framework from the government, (Runnymede, 2018; Gillborn, 2008 the removal of community cohesion in the Ofsted assessment framework (Mogra, 2016; Wilkins, 2014); anglocentric colour-blind curriculum within schools (Lumby, 2016), under-representation of BAME staff (Richardson, 2007) , issues relating to residential segregation within inner city areas (Kirkham, 2016) and social economic marginalisation (Richardson, 2007).
- A cultural approach within schools, by focusing on equality and diversity that will result in positive community cohesion, so all community groups are supported within schools (Lumby, 2016).
(All citations can be found in the bibliography)
Looking forward to speaking at this event, discussing the progress of an Anti racist approach implemented at our school.
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).
I was fortunate to attend a Pan African Saturday school, to unpick the trauma experienced through mainstream education. Here, I was taught by qualified Black teachers that volunteered their time on a Saturday morning. This was integral to reinforce positive self-image, self-confidence and to help bridge the attainment gap that was absent in my formal schooling This taught me from an early age that it is essential to have positive Black representation in schools, alongside a curriculum that reflects global society and to relate to the increasing global audience.
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.