- 6 Oct 2021
Distillation and summary of discussions from Stakeholder Network Group
This paper endeavours to distil:
- the issues discussed in the REAREP Stakeholder Network Group (SNG) paper on Racism, Racist Incidents and Bullying (paper 05/04, tabled at the meeting on 23 June 2021)
- feedback received during the breakout sessions at that meeting
Summary of key messages
SNG members were split in to four break out groups. The sessions provided useful discussions around the aim and the actions. The following is a summary of some of the key messages arising from both the breakout discussions, and discussions with the whole group:
Inclusion of teachers and wider school staff
It was noted that the actions list did not include any reference to racism and racist incidents towards teachers and wider schools staff. Feedback from the SNG suggested that that this should be recognised in outputs from the working group.
This should include fuller consideration of the experiences of minority ethnic school staff, perhaps by engagement with existing school staff networks.
It was also noted that the actions focus strongly on school leaders. Actions should reflect that while strong leadership is vital, this needs to be a community-wide effort, which includes all members of school communities to effect a cultural change.
It was suggested that the timescales for actions were ambitious, and it is better to take time to ensure that the outputs are of high quality, rather than focusing on rapid delivery. There is a need to be mindful of organisations whose representatives are voluntary, and their time and input to the working group.
It was also suggested that the sequencing of actions should be considered by the subgroup to ensure that there is a sensible progression between them, allowing early outputs to inform later actions. It was suggested that attention should also be paid to sequencing of actions in the REAREP as a whole to ensure cohesion between workstreams. For example, first focusing on building knowledge amongst school staff, which should in turn inform addressing and recording racist incidents.
It was clarified that the list of actions are indicative and dependent on progress within the subgroup. The list aims to provide a clear focus to the subgroup and to enable identification of areas of work which will interact with other workstreams.
Actions on guidance to schools
The action to “develop a clear guide for schools on their responsibilities in relation to preventing and responding to racism and racist bullying including the appropriate recording and monitoring system to use” was discussed by the SNG. It was noted that this is a short-term action under the Communication and Engagement driver, and is about providing a brief overview and summary to schools highlighting resources that are already available to help them address racist bullying and racist incidents. It was suggested that this could take the form of a special communication to schools.
Wider comments on the provision of new guidance suggested that careful consideration should be given to ensure that any new guidance is actively promoted and embedded in schools. Closely linked to this, it will be important to understand why incidents of racist bullying are sometimes not recorded by school staff. Understanding this will help to ensure that any new guidance is effective at addressing gaps in practice or understanding.
Engaging with young people
The feedback was clear that any engagement with CYP needs to be of good quality and focused on enabling young people to collaborate and input into decision making.
To maximise impact, engagement should gather the views of those with lived experience of racism at school, but this needs to be very carefully handled with specific care taken to safeguard and empower young people.
Existing information and evidence should be used where this exists.
The working group should consider how the actions will be evaluated, to determine if they are making an impact. Considerations will also be made about whether existing self-assessment tools could support evaluation of this work.
Redrafted vision statement
The wording and ambition of the vision statement was considered and discussed during the breakout sessions.
The breakout groups welcomed the fact that the vision statement refers to a preventative approach, however it was felt that it would benefit from being broken down or streamlined to improve accessibility and clarity.
As with the actions, the groups felt that the initial vision statement did not capture bullying and racism experienced by wider school staff, and that it should be included in the vision statement. This aspect of work is likely to link to work being done by the Diversity in the Teaching and Education Workforce workstream.
It was also felt that the vision statement should reference recognising racism and supporting those affected by it, and refer to building positive culture as a key way in which the ambitions of the vision will be achieved. It should be clear who will be involved in achieving the vision; local authorities, all school staff, children and young people.
The following re-drafted aim reflects those discussions, especially the general view that the statement should be broken down to make it more accessible.
Everyone in school communities is enabled to recognise and address racism, including racist bullying and racist incidents, and provide effective support to all those affected. School communities should collaboratively develop positive cultures of respect and equality supported by the provision of guidance, effective practice, and robust recording and monitoring.
The first role for the sub group will be to consider the actions list, taking account of the wider feedback collected during the last SNG meeting specifically around:
- timing and sequencing of actions
- recognition of wider school staff being affected by incidents of racist bullying
- how to ensure that any new guidance is embedded
Membership of the sub-group is still being finalised.