Anti-Racist Education Update: Term 1 Review

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 Kids of Colour and resources provided by www.theracetrust.com and MUSA ( https://musa.wisdomagainstracism.com/ ) 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)

Next Steps

  • Targeted inventions for vulnerable BGM students / BGM NEET / BGM High prior attainers with mentors from BGM community, from a wide range of sectors. EG The Race Trust and 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 Kids of Colour and resources provided by theracetrust.org and MUSA 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)
  • Kids of color Anti-racist training (Booked in for half term 2)
  • Wisdom against Racism MUSA training via introduction with all staff (Booked in for half term 2)

Next Steps

  • Anti-racist CPD structured in half term from specialist providers (The race trust and Kids of Colour, Anne Frank Trust )
  • Unconscious and implicit biastraining

Student Education

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  via the race Trust (Next term)
  • 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 in involved in racist attacks on other students. Far-right extremism/anti-racism interventions Small little steps anti-racist training https://smallstepsconsultants.com/
  • Anti-Racist lessons, Followed up by targeted Interventions focused on the impact of Hate Crime via The race Trust / Kids of colour

Next Steps

  • Anti-racist ambassador trainning with (The race trust and Kids of Colour, Anne Frank Trust)

Leadership and Management

Term 1 Behavior Policy review: Critically Review existing school policy through the lens of Black and Global Majority Learners

Key changes

  • 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
  • MUSA anti-racist course 6-week course to be completed
  • Amended Anti-Racist section in the home school agreement for parents and staff to sign

Next Steps

  • 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

Community

Improve local community links

  • Weekly meetings with the community strategy response team
  • Collaborations with local anti-racist organisations (eg, Anne Frank Trust, The Race Trust, Kids of Colour)
  • 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)

Next Steps

  • Increased involvement with community partners, utilising the Oasis Hub

Institutionalised racism in education throughout the generations: A personal account

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.

The racist novel by Agatha Christie. Later changed the title to ‘then there were none’

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.

Lostock Community High School (2001)

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.

Anti-racist structure review model

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.

Bibliography

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.