- reflects on how and why the Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme was established
- sets out the structure which characterise it and what each function does
- notes that members have provided helpful feedback which we want to consider in order to make sure the process is operating in an optimum way
- asks members to consider the questions in bold, which will be used to form the basis of the breakout sessions at the meeting on 25 November
Context and background
The Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme (REAREP) was established in early 2021, following a three month period of stakeholder engagement with more than 50 education and race equality stakeholders, including young people. This was in response to the public discourse on the Black Lives Matters movement, and the significant amount of correspondence received by then Cabinet Secretary for Education, John Swinney on how the movement impacts on provision of education in Scotland’s schools. The correspondence covered a number of issues including:
- decolonising the curriculum and make the teaching of Black and minority ethnic history compulsory
- improving existing mechanisms for recording and addressing racist incidents in schools
- addressing the lack of diversity in the Scottish teaching profession
- better equipping teachers so that they are racially literate and fully competent in delivering lessons on anti-racism and Black and ethnic minority history
Key participants during the period of stakeholder engagement included: the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES), General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS), COSLA, Black and Ethnic Minorities Infrastructure Scotland (BEMIS), Council for Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO), Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators (SAMEE), Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER), Intercultural Youth Scotland and RespectMe. The Deputy First Minister and the Minister for Equalities also undertook targeted engagement with 13 young people from Secondary schools in Glasgow and Falkirk, the Scottish Youth Parliament and Intercultural Youth Scotland. Ministers were very clear about the direction of travel and the need for the Scottish Government to take action which is consistent with existing strategic race equality commitments such as the Race Equality Framework and the Immediate Priorities Plan.
As a result of undertaking stakeholder engagement, followed by distillation of those discussions, four key themes emerged, which stakeholders agreed were interlinked and of fundamental importance in order to tackle race inequality in schools:
- school leadership and professional learning
- diversity in the teaching profession and education workforce
- curriculum reform
- racism and racist incidents in schools
The REAREP Stakeholder Network Group used the monthly meetings from March to June to explore the four themes in detail and to identify next steps. Sub-groups were then established to support each workstream. The initial aims for the sub-groups were to: agree a vision, a terms of reference and to finalise the draft actions which emerged from the stakeholder engagement sessions. Sub-groups should bring their signed off actions, assigned to specific organisations/individuals and with clear timelines for delivery attached, to the Stakeholder Network Group meeting on 27 January, in order that the programme ambitions in their entirety can be agreed.
As we approach this milestone, and reflect on members’ feedback on the programme structure, this is an opportune moment for the Stakeholder Network Group to consider whether the existing REAREP structures serve us well and will help facilitate our ambitions as we move in to a more action focused period with increased pace attached to it.
The role of the Programme Board is one of quality assurance, providing oversight of the programme, ensuring that a coherent and responsive approach is taken in terms of emerging themes and priorities for action. The board should bring expertise to bear, providing a number of lenses through which new aims and ambitions can be viewed. These may include, for example, considering how and whether specific actions developed by working groups can realistically be implemented to agreed timescales by the education system, taking into account practical issues such as current resources, pressures, the potential need to change existing structures to achieve certain outcomes, etc., and how they reconcile with strategic Scottish Government commitments on race equality. There is also a fundamental requirement for the board to provide financial scrutiny in terms of ensuring that any proposals emerging from sub-groups provide good value for public money.
The programme board should also provide a function pre-empting questions which would invariably come from Ministers upon presenting new proposals to them. As we make progress with sub-groups developing concrete actions, scrutiny from the programme board will ensure that they have been developed as robustly as possible, increasing the likelihood of them being signed off by Ministers at early presentation.
This process may be an iterative one, with the programme board going back to working groups with questions and comments, and working groups providing further information or advice that reflects all stakeholders’ views. In this way, we hope that we will ensure a common understanding across all stakeholders involved in REAREP of the most effective way forward. We also hope to ensure that any final advice that goes to Ministers is as rounded as possible, identifying ambitious but realistic and deliverable outcomes.
Currently the programme board has representation from Learning Directorate, Equality and Human Rights Directorate, Education Scotland, Scottish Qualifications Agency and Association of Directors of Education in Scotland. Members have provided feedback on the role of the programme board, including suggestions for additional representation which has informed the following questions:
- the role of the programme board is to provide coherence, scrutiny and expertise. Do you think there are any functions which are missing from this list?
- the programme board has representation from the bodies and organisations listed in paragraph eight. Are there any other bodies or organisations who you think should be represented on the programme board?
Stakeholder Network Group
The large stakeholder network group (SNG) was established as the most practical platform on which to regularly bring together stakeholders with an interest. It follows a model regularly used by the Scottish Government as part of policy development and delivery, particularly in the early stages. The SNG brought together different organisations in both the education and race equality sectors, enabling everyone to work through themes identified in the early stakeholder engagement sessions, in order to inform the development of sub-groups and actions.
Now that the four themes and how we might evaluate the programme have been the subject of initial focussed discussions, the aim is that the development of actions, including owners, outputs, outcomes and timelines, takes place during the current sub-group meetings, with a scrutiny function being delivered by the programme board. This may mean that there is no longer the same requirement for the SNG to meet in its current format, because the majority of the REAREP’s action-focused activity will now involve the sub-groups and the programme board. We’re also conscious of the fact that the SNG takes up a significant amount of members’ time, in that it meets for two hours every month, and additional time is required to read and reflect on meeting papers.
- do you think that the SNG, in its current form (monthly meetings lasting for two hours) is a productive platform?
- if yes, are there any changes you think should be made to it, e.g., meetings should be shorter/longer, meetings should take a different format – if so, what sort of format do you think would improve the existing approach?
- If no, for example because you think that the majority of activity will now take place in sub-groups, do you think the SNG should exist in a different format, e.g., shorter meetings quarterly? Or perhaps it could be used to take forward the evaluation workstream? Or do you think that there is no longer a need for the stakeholder network group at all?
There are four sub-groups which sit underneath the SNG. They are as follows:
- School Leadership and Professional Learning
- Diversity in the Teaching Profession and Education Workforce
- Curriculum Reform
- Racism and Racist Incidents
We are also currently scoping out what mechanism we use to take forward the evaluation workstream, as well as endeavouring to appoint an organisation who can deliver a children and young person’s group. The deadline for submissions was 16 November and applications will be assessed during week commencing 22 November.
Sub-groups have been asked to bring their finalised actions to the SNG meeting on 27 January, so that they can all be agreed and signed off as a coherent programme of activity. Once it is agreed, it is envisaged that the majority of the REAREP’s activity will take place in the sub-groups, driving forward the delivery of actions with wider stakeholders during the medium term. Moving in to this delivery space, the role of the sub-groups is critical to success and they would work much more closely with the programme board in order to gain buy-in at Ministerial level, before rolling actions out in partnership with wider stakeholders.
- do you think the sub-groups in their current form are well placed to agree draft actions and drive these forward, working with wider stakeholders during the next 18 months to two years?
- if yes, how do you see the sub-groups interacting with other parts of the programme during that time, e.g., the SNG and the programme board?
- if no, what do you think would be a better mechanism for agreeing actions and driving them forward?
Members have been very proactive in providing feedback on how the REAREP has operated to date. This has focused on a number of areas such as structure and also the way in which the Secretariat supports the programme. It’s helpful to know that some of the papers which are produced are still too complex and need simplifying. In advance of the next meeting, it would also be useful to think about how to balance this with the fact that when undertaking discussions about the Scottish education system and race inequality, there will sometimes be complex issues at play which need to be discussed.
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