Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme: Stakeholder Network Group paper - March 2021

A supporting document on school leadership and learning from meeting two, agenda item four of the Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme: Stakeholder Network Group's March 2021 meeting.

Meeting 2 – Agenda item 4 – school leadership and learning paper

Summary of discussion in breakout rooms and initial conclusions

The Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme Stakeholder Network Group (SNG) met for the second time on 25 March. The purpose of the meeting was to consider School Leadership and Professional Learning, one of the 4 interlinked themes which the SNG is considering between February and May. 

Agenda item 4 saw Lesley Whelan, Head of Professional Learning and Leadership at Education Scotland talk to the paper on School Leadership and Professional Learning which was circulated in advance of the meeting. A short discussion followed and then members were divided in to breakout groups to work through 3 questions (noted below) relating to the aim, draft proposals and potential actions which come under this workstream.

SNG members were split in to 6 break out groups, consisting of between 4 and 6 people. The groups were facilitated by Learning Directorate, Equality Unit and Education Scotland officials. The breakout sessions lasted 45 minutes, after which, the main meeting reconvened, with facilitators reporting the key discussion points to the Chair.

A range of diverse views and opinions were shared and the overarching points which emerged across all 6 groups are summarised below:

Breakout session questions

Question 1: do you agree with the draft, overarching aim set out in paper 02/03? For the avoidance of doubt, the overarching aim is the end point, or the vision which is realised once all outputs and outcomes have been achieved?

Draft aim: That leadership at all levels of Scottish education is proactively anti-racist with all education leaders working to embed a culture which creates race equality for all. Realising this will require enhanced national, regional and local professional learning and a drive to ensure broad, cross-sectoral engagement.

Across the groups, it was agreed that the draft aim is considered to be broadly in the right space, but it would be helpful to include references to the following:

  • the fact that this is everyone’s job 
  • a distinction between school leadership and professional learning
  • a commitment to providing both support and challenge
  • proactive promotion of values and accountability (including at performance appraisal/professional review), the latter in terms of change and achieving ant-racism
  • the measures which will be used to monitor and assess whether the aim is being achieved
  • the GTCS standards
  • children and young people
  • explicit reference to institutional racism
  • timescales, in order to support a tight focus on work
  • a clear definition of who the target audience is - all those who have a front line and/or influential role as an education leader need to model the right behaviours and commit to tackle systemic racism and associated behaviours. They also need to enable and empower the whole school community to also model the right behaviours

Other comments:

  • “a drive to ensure….” feels weak – what does it mean? The vision (and proposals and actions) should be drafted in a way which avoids jargon, is not woolly, and ensures transparency and a shared understanding of what is meant
  • there is a need to move to action which is deliverable. This requires systemic change – is the system ready?
  • staff need to be equipped to be confident to act on and speak about racism
  • staff need to be engaged in order that they are willing to deliver change
  • trust needs to be developed with staff in order to facilitate any change
  • the voices of all young people need to be listened to – not just the confident ones or those put forward by teachers
  • the word ‘culture’ may not be precise enough to enable measurement and monitoring of progress and impact
  • it needs to be clearer that it’s not just about embedding an ‘open and accepting environment’ but about striving for one in many cases – and that lots of schools are a long way off this achievement
  • there is a reference to race equality for all – what does this look like? It’s not a clear vision or an end point. The aim should be about anti-racism

Suggested re-draft of the action

That education leaders in Scotland understand race in a school context and enable, empower and support an anti-racist culture across school communities. 

General comment: To note, the Welsh Government’s recent report (circulated with the meeting papers) received high praise with a few members saying that they would be leaning on it, in taking forward their work, particularly the vision statement contained therein. 

Question 2. Paper 02/03 contains 5 draft proposals which were captured during stakeholder engagement sessions. Do you think these proposals are correct, and in line with the over-arching vision, or are there any other aspects which need to be considered?

23. Leadership: that formal and explicit planning for improvement in equalities is required as part of school improvement planning 

24. Professional learning: which supports the above at national, regional, local and establishment levels and captures the local context and profile of the school community (ie to challenge the possible perception that in a school with few minority ethnic learners this type of CLPL is not needed as much – working collaboratively with local partners/ third sector. 

Proposal 6 

A whole-school approach to anti-racism to effect meaningful and sustainable change with a commitment to promote the approach and create capacity building for professionals. This approach includes a focus on the four contexts for learning, all ages 3-18, and emphasises the key role of the learning across the curriculum and of parents and learners in the wider life of the school community.

Proposal 7

Teachers to be provided with exemplary values-driven leadership on creating a culture that promotes anti-racism and diversity across the curriculum to deliver responsive and relevant teaching. This must be provided with support and training on how to use resources confidently and effectively.

Proposal 9 

Embedding a culture and an understanding of race equality issues, led by race cognisant teachers, into teaching and learning across the curriculum, for example what fiction is being covered in English literature, what pioneers and influencers are being used in expressive arts, all needs to be explored.

Proposal 23

  • in proposal 23, after the word ‘equalities’, we should add ‘and anti-discriminatory practice’

Proposal 24

  • in proposal 24, the word ‘possible’ should be removed as it was felt that this was indeed the perception

Proposal 6

  • how are we going to measure meaningful and sustainable change? 
  • parents and children are also critical to this. Parent partnership groups
  • need to also consider training for HMIE inspectors
  • need to make the case for and reference actionable and tangible change – this is missing and should refer to Es and Os/Benchmarks
  • school communities must be involved: not just schools including career advisers, counsellors, professionals who come in on visiting, or those who are there on secondment purposes, but everyone who is involved in the life of the school

Proposal 7

  • it’s not about training to use a resource, it’s fundamentally about teachers’ professional identity
  • not a tick box exercise
  • should use and learn from what we’ve got already e.g. in the GTCS
  • needs to be about how we fight structural racism. How to be an anti-racist practitioner
  • training and professional learning needs to be high quality

Proposal 9

  • how do teachers become race cognisant? What do we mean when we say this?
  • burden of responsibility on teachers
  • need for some kind of external input in to the process
  • teachers scared of getting it wrong
  • support networks and brining in someone who isn’t based in the same network as you
  • the links between pedagogy and fighting injustice need to be clearer

General comments on the proposals

  • generally, the proposals cover what is needed, but need to better reflect the draft aim

  • the proposals will need to make reference to or link to the commitments in the REAP 
  • example given of Portobello High School where young people deliver anti-racism training – considered to be positive
  • evaluation of all proposals must be inbuilt from the start
  • where reference is made to ‘teachers’ it should generally apply to all practitioners (unless there is a specific need to be more precise)
  • CLPL should be available and readily accessible to every teacher in Scotland
  • the idea of an anti-racist qualification/award that young people can do (and achieve recognition) should be considered – a race equality charter for children
  • the GTCS currently has diversity awards for teachers. A specific award for antiracism (rather than something more generic) would be positive
  • consistency across the country needs to be considered properly. In the central belt, for example, it will be easier for schools to draw on local networks for high quality expertise – this also needs to be provided in more geographically remote and rural areas
  • education Scotland quality indicator 1.3 which covers inclusion is far too broad and race is only one part of it. Also it is not mandatory. A head teacher can decide if it’s important or not. If we want true equality across the system no matter a rural/urban high diversity/low diversity school then it must be mandatory as are other curriculum indicators
  • leadership must be shared at all levels – it should be everyone’s responsibility to take the lead and not just SMT – need to realise the talents and skills of staff below promoted level to lead others and to build buy in of colleagues
  • the proposals don’t give consideration to parents as educators in the school community – something which has come to fore over the last 12 months, as have pre-existing challenges, such as digital exclusion. Consideration should be given as to how professional learning and resources can be extended to include home schooling as part of the proposals to embed race equality and anti-racism in the school curriculum. What support can be provided to those who are not professional educators but are home schooling

Questions about the proposals

  • how can we ensure that all school staff are not just given access to learning but actually undertake it?
  • are there existing commitments in the REF, or in the developing REAP which can be used to make sure that staff have time to engage anti racist training and development?
  • why can’t anti racism training be made mandatory like child protection training?
  • can the ambitions being discussed be delivered in reality? Can SG do some analysis and inform the group so as to provide clarity and not raise expectations? 

Question 3. Thinking in the short, medium and long term, what do you think the actions are which need to happen to achieve these proposals? 

  • culture and ethos are key – people need to see and understand the requirement to change in order to effect it
  • short term – provide guidance/resource on appropriate language to use – language is hugely important for confidence building in school staff
  • don’t reinvent the wheel. There is higher education sector work that can be reused (statement of intent, declaration, staff development). There is benefit to taking a holistic approach across early years, school, FE/HE. (Potential short-term)
  • need to ensure we are using all of the existing levers that we have (Potential short-term):
    • part of school improvement plan
    • inspection
    • HMIE quality indicator (very important to link this to accountability. However, if inspectors are not race cognisant then quality indicators will not deliver effective measures to support accountability 
    • GTCS
  • medium term - work with ITE on supporting next generation of teachers
  • longer term – develop a framework – this work needs drivers and to make individuals accountable
  • the existing LGBT approach, which includes e-learning modules and other resources which were produced in collaboration with a teacher panel who also piloted them, may provide a useful model to consider using
  • there is a need to look at processes which exclude people because this is about power. Processes that link people together so that we hold each other accountable are required. Resources and CLPL are all necessary but if values driven leadership does not exist, change will not be achieved - ethos and values are key
  • provision of safe and fair work spaces for all staff
  • attitudes and behaviours need to be addressed in a coherent way – a piecemeal approach will not deliver change 
  • skilled and passionate leadership is key. Leaders need to be open about not knowing what to do; it’s ok to not get it right at the start. An environment needs to be created where it is ok to have that conversation 
  • agents of change who can share and support the leadership needed, need to be identified (EIS has a network of equality reps)
  • links need to be made with the empowerment agenda. The role of school leaders in supporting change in institutional racism in their wider community needs to be clearly communicated 
  • need to think about an anti-racist curriculum, which is not an add on, or one off. And ensure that whatever we do in curriculum-making is anti-racist in its making
  • key also is how we bring in those with lived experience in to the development processes. Those who are developing the training and are delivering the training need to have lived experience
  • need a whole package of support. Learning and development that supports action and tangible change
  • also need to provide people with the culture, tools and safe spaces that they need to tackle racism 
  • ITE institutions could offer a description of what cohorts are being offered in terms of learning about anti-racism. An overview (rather than a detailed syllabus) would be sufficient. It would be useful for the SNG to consider these at a future meeting
  • there should be a professional development offer that is available to practitioners across the country at a time that allows them to build it into their timetables. Credits and monitoring should be considered to ensure wide take up
  • GTCS should include consideration of race equality and antiracism work as part of professional updates
  • LAs should commit to including consideration of race equality and anti racism work and addressing poor performance in these areas in performance appraisals
  • share best practice to demonstrate it can be done and there are no barriers and that we must take risks – taking the first step is hard. We need platforms on which we can share best practice with other professionals to showcase live examples of teaching, living and creating diversity inside classrooms and out
  • leaders need to be held to account and ensure improvements are made, not target driven but culturally driven making some small changes that reaches the goals set out. Measuring in different ways like the innovative use of evaluation when raising attainment – it’s not all about grades but everything that goes along with it which means not a huge focus on targets but other small things that can result in achieving something big
  • there is no national framework to drive these plans, ambitions etc. For example, for attainment we have a national framework/strategy set by ES and SG e.g. on raising attainment but nothing on ensuring diversity. This would help build buy in and create an impetus to drive change as there is national policy backing and its not seen as an add on

Exemplar: the approaches taken by one LA

  • for systems change, we need to look at organisational structures inwardly and outwardly
  • be explicit about white privilege and its links to institutional racism/ historical context
  • HTs across the LA received professional learning, created by both the LA and CRER. HTs will lead with staff, with support as required from LA centre. The school improvement planning paperwork and standards and quality report will evidence of actions and progress taken to ensure progress in this area. This will support accountability. Set realistic targets and have an evaluation strategy

Emerging themes

During the breakout sessions a large number of important and diverse points of view were surfaced, which was very useful in terms of beginning to identify emerging themes. These are (but are not limited to):

  • values

  • leadership
  • culture
  • ethos
  • accountability and associated mechanisms for ensuring accountability
  • definitions of success and the measurements for demonstrating it
  • nervousness and lack of confidence which is inhibiting action being taken and progress being made

Next steps

In terms of next steps, it would be helpful if members could add any points which are not already covered in this note. This will enable us to start moving towards a more distilled version of the aim, proposals and actions, which will be circulated for comment. 

Annex i

Race Equality & Anti-Racism in Education Programme – SNG meeting 02 – breakout groups

Group 1 – facilitator: Liza McLean
  • Amy Allard-Dunbar - IYS

  • Jovan Jao Rydder (IYS support)

  • Pauline Stephen, GTCS
  • Khadija Mohammed, SAMEE
Group 2 – facilitator: Zarina Naseem
  • Annette Foulcer, SQA
  • Rosy Burgess (SYP support)
  • Professor Rowena Arshad, CERES
  • Uuganaa Ramsay, The Anti-Racist Educator
Group 3 – facilitator: Judith Ballantine
  • Matthew Sweeney, COSLA

  • Parveen Khan, CEMVO

  • Dr David Smith, SCDE
  • Asif Chishti, Secondary School Teacher
  • Lesley Whelan, ES
Group 4 – facilitator: Phil Alcock
  • Maureen McKenna, ADES
  • Carol Young, CRER
  • Judith Mohammed, Headteacher
  • Katie Ferguson, RespectMe
  • David Roy, SG
Group 5 – facilitator: Aqueel Ahmed
  • Michael Roach, Inverclyde Council
  • Mélina Valdelièvre – NASUWT
  • Nuzhat Uthmani, Primary School Teacher
  • Sian Balfour, SG
Group 6 – facilitator: Jacqui Nimmo
  • Samir Sharma, Glasgow City Council

  • Gary Christie, Scottish Refugee Council

  • Programme
  • Selma Augestad, EIS
  • Pauline Hendry, SG
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