Head of Programme Diversity & Inclusion for Programme Delivery at Teach First, Laura Swiszczowski
Laura Swiszczowski
Head of Programme Diversity & Inclusion at Teach First

Becoming an anti-racist school

Many schools work hard to challenge and eradicate racism. But until we ensure our schools are truly inclusive, education won’t be fair for all.

 

Moderator

  • Laura Swiszczowski - Head of Programme Diversity & Inclusion at Teach First

Speakers

  • Rosemary Campbell-Stephens MBE - Educational Leadership Consultant, Author, Activist and Motivational Speaker
  • Desmond Deehan - CEO / Executive Headteacher at Odyssey Trust for Education
  • Penny Rabiger - Co-founder and Trustee of the BAMEed Network
  • Marcus Shepherd – Principal of The Wells Academy

Becoming an anti-racist school

Racism and racial discrimination has been in the press again recently, as it becomes clearer that to challenge racial discrimination is not enough, we need to be actively anti-racist. Our schools can change lives, which is why it is vital for all schools to be inclusive to get the best from our pupils. They also offer a place for us to challenge the ‘normalisation’ of racial inequality. Until we ensure our schools are truly inclusive, education won’t be fair for all.

Why anti-racism? When we talk about anti-racism, we mean transforming the relations between people from Black, Asian and other ethnic minority backgrounds, and people from white backgrounds, to be more equal. It's about understanding how racism happens on an individual, interpersonal and institutional level, such as within a school, and going further to actively dismantle racism within schools.

At Teach First, we are passionate about a fair education for all, ensuring the experience of all pupils from all backgrounds can thrive. When we learn that:

  • 95% of young Black people in the UK have heard or witnessed racist language in school (YMCA, 2020)
  • Black Caribbean children are 3.5 times more likely to be excluded from school than all other children at primary, secondary and SEN schools (Barnados, 2020)

then we see the experiences of pupils vary according to the colour of their skin. That’s why the Future Terms panel on 29 April, will look at how schools leaders and teachers can confidently explore ideas about race and racism, as well as discussing how they can address the everyday experiences of racism that both staff and students might face.

This panel will look at the need for an anti-racist approach, sharing practical actions that school leaders and teachers can take to challenge racism and racial inequalities, both in the classroom and school-wide. One aspect of this is how school staff reflect the diversity of those they teach, 1 in 4 pupils in England are from ethnic minority backgrounds, but only 6% of school leaders are BAME. Examining the recruitment and progression of BAME staff is something Teach First can help with, and we want the Future Terms panel to look at how an inclusive culture can support and develop all staff.

As our Missing Pages campaign highlighted, we need to address the lack of people of colour’s experiences in the curriculum, in order to ensure the voices of people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds are heard and valued - reinforcing that all pupils are valued, no matter their background. The panel will discuss the importance of an inclusive curriculum, as well as how to challenge the everyday occurrences of racism and equip staff to take an anti-racist approach in their teaching.

We are so excited to have a fantastic panel of speakers to start these conversations on what it means to be an anti-racist school and learn from each other on how we get there!

 

Teach First's Future Terms panel series invites experts from across the sector to address the most pressing topics in education. Sign up to watch upcoming panels:

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