Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme Stakeholder Network Group minutes: February 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 18 February 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • David Roy, Chairperson
  • Professor Rowena Arshad CBE, Chair of the DiTP working group
  • Maureen McKenna, ADES 
  • Sharon Smith, General Teaching Council of Scotland 
  • Selma Augestad, EIS
  • Mélina Valdelièvre, NASUWT
  • Khadija Mohammad, SAMEE
  • Annette Foulcer, SQA
  • Matthew Sweeney,  COSLA
  • Samir Sharma, QIO and Equalities Lead, Glasgow CC
  • Michael Roach, Head of Education, Inverclyde Council
  • Amy Allard-Dunbar, IYS, Policy Co-ordinator
  • Jovan Rao Rydder, IYS, Programme Manager
  • Daniella Faakor Damptey, SYP, Angus South
  • Rosy Burgess, SYP, Events and Campaign Officer
  • Carol Young, CRER, Deputy Director
  • Gary Christie, Scottish Refugee Council
  • Nuzhat Uthmani, P7 Teacher, Glasgow CC
  • Judith Mohamed, Headteacher, Old Machar Academy
  • Parveen Khan, CEMVO, Race Equality Officer
  • Lesley Whelan, Education Scotland
  • Jacqueline Nimmo, Education Scotland
  • Aqeel Ahmed,  Equality Unit, SG
  • Liza McLean, Deputy Director, Learning Directorate
  • Judith Ballantine, Teacher Education, Leadership And Reform
  • Siân Balfour, Teacher Education, Leadership And Reform
  • Zarina Naseem, Curriculum Unit
  • Phil Alcock, Support and Wellbeing Unit
  • Pauline Hendry, Secretariat


  • Pauline Stephen , General Teaching Council of Scotland
  • David Smith, SCDE
  • Colin Lee, CEMVO
  • Maureen Finn, Scottish Traveller Education Programme
  • Wendy Harrington, RespectME
  • Asif Chishti, Modern Languages Teacher, Dunfermline

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The chair welcomed everyone to the first meeting of the Stakeholder Network Group (SNG). Attendees introduced themselves.

Overview and conclusions from meetings with Ministers (originally marked on agenda as item 3)

The chair provided a summary of progress which has led to the establishment of the SNG. He noted the stakeholder engagement sessions with officials and Ministers in the Autumn, the aim of which was to provide an initial forum for Scottish Government (SG) officials and partner organisations, to hear and consider the expertise and experience of participants on how the content of the curriculum, the diversity of the education workforce and the wider policies and culture of a school impact on race equality. This has contributed to better alignment internally across key areas. SG expect this group to be in existence for some time and are seeking sustained oversight of the work to come.

A SG Official provided a brief overview of the meetings with Ministers. The first meeting was with young people, including Intercultural Youth Scotland (IYS), Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) and secondary school pupils from S3 to S6 from Glasgow and Falkirk. The second meeting involved approximately 20 education and race equality stakeholders.   

The SG Official expressed thanks to those who had attended one of the stakeholder meetings with Ministers. 

Some SNG members were in attendance at one or more of the meetings with Mr Swinney and Ms McKelvie and fed back positive comments. The importance of including the voice of young people was also acknowledged and the SG Official confirmed that this would continue throughout the lifetime of the SNG. There will also be further opportunity for continued engagement with Ministers. 

Purpose of Group/Terms of Reference

The Chair outlined progress so far and the purpose of the group. 

Today’s meeting was outlined as moving into the next phase, whereby we think about the potential measures which will help resolve the issues which have been articulated to date.   

Participants were asked whether everyone felt the correct organisations and individuals were represented. The following additional representation was  suggested:

  • Children in Scotland, specifically to link with work they are currently doing with General Teaching Council of Scotland (GTCS) and IYS, in listening to the voices of young people
  • representatives from the Children’s Parliament

Participants identified a need to be clear about the interpretation of “children and young people”, and the importance of engaging with school age children was stressed.  Children and young people could be included in the conversation, and the same issues discussed with them, either by way of a sub group, or a separate network.  Young people should be viewed not only as a source of consultation, but also as agents and experts in education itself.

The group’s views were sought on the Terms of Reference (TOR). Comments included:

  • the Group discussed the challenges of the purpose statement putting the emphasis on individual teacher’s anxieties about doing the “wrong thing”. It was felt that this both failed to sufficiently recognise the wider systemic and societal issues at play but also didn’t fully emphasise teachers’ responsibility to actively engage with anti-racism work. Part of the challenge in getting schools to engage with anti-racism work is attributed to the nervousness of teachers
  • in terms of Diversity in the Teaching Profession, there is a need to acknowledge the challenging experiences of teachers and staff currently in the education profession, not just new teachers and issues relating to the retention of staff and probationers in particular
  • the Race Equality Action Plan (REAP) is referred to, but reference should also be made to the Race Equality Framework (REF), which runs till 2030, as it contains commitments which are relevant to the work of this group which were developed with input from race equality groups and minority ethnic groups and individuals
  • there is a need for shared values and trust, and a commitment to open, honest dialogue within the group and this way of working should be expressed in the ToR.
  • the references to Black history and world history could be amended to include other minority ethnic groups, such as Asian history in Scotland

A number of points were made about racism in schools:  

  • it was suggested that racism should not be defined as simply bullying. The term ‘bullying’ does not acknowledge that racism is a deeper structural issue that goes beyond one child disliking another and choosing to make fun of their ethnicity or race
  • when racism is recorded as simply bullying it is inaccurate. It should be recorded as such enabling pupils to draw attention to the practice of teachers as well as their peers
  • it is important to be able to record incidents, but also types of incidents and to see patterns within the recording of racist incidents allowing solutions to be tailored to each community and how they experience racism
  • CRER provided an update on the SEEMiS recording system. CRER consider the current system to be unhelpful, as two separate systems exist for racist incidents and for racist bullying. Anecdotally it does seem that incidents of racist bullying are currently being recorded simply as bullying. However, racist non-bullying incidents may not be recorded at all, as revision of the bullying and equalities SEEMiS module did not address the need to record these racist incidents and the level of use of the separate racist incidents module is not known. The refusal to make recording of racist bullying mandatory, leads to a failure of process, and it is considered fundamental that the group discuss this further.
  • a SG Official explained that it is difficult to make recording mandatory, as a definitive definition of bullying is required. The danger in taking this approach, is that future incidents which do not meet that definition may be missed
  • on recording, it was explained that while there are two systems available in SEEMiS, the level of use on both systems is unknown. However, it is proposed that this issue be undertaken as part of the racism and bullying work stream, to see which systems are in use in which local authorities and offer training where necessary
  • it was considered that the TOR didn’t focus on the mental wellbeing or racial trauma of minority ethnic children and there needs to be more support added there. The focus must be on the person who has experienced racism and what they want and need rather than whether the system can deal with the issue. When people do not know what to do, it leads them to kick the issue into the long grass rather than to record and engage with the incident

A SG Official provided an overview and an update on the REAP. 

It was noted that the current REAP ends in March. A new iteration will be published in June for a 12-18 month period.  This will be a more focussed action plan which will include previously committed actions, as ongoing work, alongside new actions. It will be aligned closer to the National Performance Framework (NPF) and the goals in the REF.  Participants were assured that work generated as part of this network group will be captured in future iterations of REAP.


  • SG – to consider options around a shadow group of Children and Young People that could work alongside the wider group 
  • SG - seek additional representation on the SNG from children and young people’s groups 
  • SG - Re-draft the TOR based on discussion and recirculate to group for comment 

Stakeholder proposals paper 

The previous stakeholder engagement sessions and more recent meetings with Ministers have enabled the identification of the four key themes and interlinked areas which require detailed consideration and further action:

  • curriculum reform
  • racism, racist incidents and bullying
  • diversity in the teaching profession
  • school leadership and professional learning

The discussions had also enabled the preliminary identification of proposals and suggestions made by attendees, which are set out in paper 3. The paper attempts to recognise the synergies and interactions that exist between the work streams, and transcend them, as well as recognising that the issues of race inequality which manifest themselves in school settings are interlinked to wider systematic race inequality.

It was explained that the purpose of the group is to identify, in partnership with subject matter experts, short, medium and long term actions which will mitigate the issues which require addressing and to distil the list down into actions that are SMART and realistic. Once actions have been agreed, the group will continue to oversee the work over a sustained period.

Participants were informed that some funding has been allocated in the coming financial year to support specific work related to this programme. Participants should consider activity with this in mind and the chair confirmed that the SG is confident about being able to support new activity via this group.

Participants were asked for their thoughts on the proposals paper, whether there were areas that could be linked, whether any ideas could be removed or where there were proposals that absolutely must remain.

The key points of discussion are summarised below:

  • Glasgow City Council, Education Services, is looking at Race Equality and Leadership as a whole entity. It is clear that there is a need to look at systemic change in leadership when taking forward race equality. The reactions from headteachers in Glasgow has shown that there is a passion and hunger for this work. Implementing systemic change in an organisation is challenging and will not be easy, but as an employer, employee or service provider it must be undertaken and led strategically. In Glasgow this is being progressed across the service and schools estate
  • anti-racism covers a wide range of groups, not just Black people. The scope of this work needs to be clear. Groups don’t want to be excluded by not being mentioned, but they also don’t want to just be grouped together as minority ethnic, they want inclusion in the conversation
  • educators must undertake mandatory anti-racism training, possibly as part of  ITE, and for successful implementation headteachers and deputy headteachers need to be on board
  • with regards to including race equality and antiracism in the curriculum, it was stressed that this should not be limited to social sciences and history, but should relate to every day interactions in the classroom, for example, incorporating music and images. In teaching Black and minority ethnic history, care should be taken not to perpetuate stereotypes, for example, by only teaching Black history in the context of slavery. History should be regarded as a continuum and the role models of today should also be considered
  • family engagement is a significant part of the process. Parent councils are very active, but also lack diversity. Barriers exist in engaging families and this is not just the case for those who are unfamiliar with the education system, but many others who have lived in Scotland for generations. Negative experiences they have had can make them feel that they can’t come forwards and join these groups. Minority ethnic parents often feel alienated and penalised when they try to raise issues of racism
  • issues of equality don’t just relate to new staff coming into the education system, but are also about how to support existing staff, particularly how to support minority ethnic staff in gaining promotion. Panels tend to be all white, with no one at senior levels from a minority ethnic background.  Grade should not always be relied on as an indicator of what experiences someone can bring to the table
  • as well as looking forward, there must be accountability for the commitments made in the past. In addition, there should be training for teachers at all stages of their career. There are already a lot of drivers within existing policy. There are 27 REAP recommendations, and with the next iteration in development, this can be looked at in combination with the engagement sessions
  • a point was raised about the language being used, particularly the phrase of ‘race equality’ as opposed to ‘anti-racism’, expressing concern that complacency may occur if the former is used.  Anti-racism is a less passive, more active term, suggesting an ongoing project. It recognises that racism is still a problem and pushes people into discomfort. Using the term ’race equality’ can lead to a feeling that racism is not still a significant issue
  • in order to change school culture, this must begin with ITE provision,  with positive messages given to future teachers
  • curriculum must go beyond the structural racism inherent in the immigration system. It is easy to discuss migration in terms of diversity, but there are wider issues with migration and the management of it, which link to racism and colonialism
  • it was felt that point 18 in the proposals paper did not allow for an immediate solution, with minority ethnic teachers taking between at least five years to progress through ITE to the profession. One solution to this could be bringing in educators, into schools/education to teach anti-racism, in a positive way
  • more work needs to be taken forward around the retention of teachers in the workforce, and on career progression, as the number of minority ethnic headteachers is still very low
  • point 25 in the proposals paper relates to the role and training of HMIe. It was questioned whether the capacity and knowledge of race equality and anti-racism practices would be enough in order to know the right questions to ask and what evidence to look for during inspections, highlighting the need to have people with lived experience involved in the process. It was suggested that paid input to the process could take the form of a race equality specialist within the HMI team. It was noted that HMI’s role in race equality is being discussed at the moment, and links to the work carried out by the Diversity in the Teaching Profession (DiTP) working group
  • although anti-racism modules exist, there is not much guidance for teachers on delivering content. Clear, concrete, teachable content and resources should be made available to teachers and classrooms, such as anti-racist standards and practice of teaching and this shouldn’t apply only to S5/S6, but the whole school

Overall, it was felt that the proposals were a good starting point, and that it was too early to think about removing or adding items. The proposals paper should become a working document, split into workstreams and with the practical actions to support them considered during focused discussions at future meetings about specific workstreams. As a working document, reference should be made to existing REAP actions.

Members agreed to discuss each workstream in more detail over the course of the next four meetings. This approach was preferred to creating sub-groups focussed on each issue.

SQA are looking at a whole range of qualifications in the senior phase, and will be setting up an external stakeholder group to see what reform will look like. The entire curriculum will be looked at, not just history and modern studies, and nothing is off the table. While they are just at the beginning of this process, they will be happy to report back and keep the group informed of progress.  This was welcomed by the group. 


  • SG - to consider the order in which the workstreams will be discussed at the next SNG meetings, and the best method for doing this
  • SG - to consider the language used around this race equality work and consider whether changes are required to better reflect the anti-racism element

Next steps and AOB

The Chair expressed his appreciation to all participants for their time and input and outlined the immediate next step: 

The next meeting will be held in March. If members wish to suggest the attendance of an alternative colleague, due to having more relevant experience of the workstream being discussed, that is acceptable.

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