Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme - Stakeholder Network Group minutes June 2021: racist incidents and racist bullying workstream - breakout comments

Paper for meeting of working group on 23 June 2021.

Discussion overview

Do you agree with the vision for this workstream?

General comments

  • welcome that the vision anticipates a preventative approach
  • vision statement would benefit from being broken down or streamlined to improve accessibility, without losing the important elements that are there
  • several groups discussed whether early years should be included in vision
  • if early years are included, how do we engage the youngest children? Support them to learn and understand the values; the role of community and families being bought into the anti-racism
  • don’t want punish a school for doing a good job of capturing bullying numbers. Workstream should be about empowering pupils and staff in challenging discrimination
  • leadership is key to creating a system where everyone feels valued
  • building trust for pupils knowing that something will get done if someone is called out. How is this tackled at the root? Building a culture where people feel able to forward, actions in place to deal with incidents. Right systems in place that work to understand the prevalence etc.
  • there is a lot of crossover with the other workstreams; need to work together to ensure coherence for schools

Suggestions on additions

  • refer to bullying and racism experienced by education staff
  • include practitioners/school staff in vision alongside young people (e.g. ‘in collaboration with colleagues and young people…’)
  • onus should be on the entire school community, not just school leaders
  • vision statement should explicitly reference recognising racism
  • refer to building positive culture as that will be the key to how this is achieved
  • vision as currently drafted omits the need to support those affected by racism in education settings
  • add reference to Health and Wellbeing, to centre experience of CYP who experience bullying, and the reporter
  • reference working with data, and addressing issues of inconsistency in data
  • make it clear who is involved in vision – local authorities, schools, teachers, etc.
  • ‘guidance’ is too passive – whatever is developed needs to be reinforced by training, etc.

Do you agree with the suggested actions to strengthen and improve the approach to addressing incidents of racism and racist bullying in schools? 

General comments

  • caution suggested in making the actions too prescriptive, running the risk of a sense that if it’s not on the list, it won’t get done
  • suggestion to align this work with safeguarding and child protection work. This would elevate its status, unlock mandatory training during in-service days, and hopefully encourage people to see it as their responsibility and not intimidating
  • there may be too much focus on school leaders, actions should reflect that this should be a community-wide effort
  • school-based policies alleviate pressure on school leaders by embedding a whole school approach and naming other individuals and their responsibilities
  • some caution raised about school policies and the workload and pressure they can create. Flexible templates etc can help schools produce policies while maintaining consistency
  • there should be reference across the actions to the importance of trauma-informed approaches
  • further consideration should be given to the role/experience of parents and families
  • there should be fuller consideration of the experience of minority ethnic school staff, perhaps using focus groups. Existing networks (e.g. EIS’ BAME network) should be considered for this. Questions put to those networks should be meaningful and focused on action
  • the possibility of having an action around inspection should be explored
  • an action on teachers experiencing racism and racist bullying. This could possibly be covered in the guidance
  • there should be an action on how the outcomes will be evaluated and how their impact will be monitored
  • if early years are included in workstream remit, this needs to be reflected in the actions


  • it would be helpful to know if there is research about why school staff may not record racism? This would be helpful to ensure that guidance is effective. Reputational fears of educational establishments as well as fear of labelling children as racists was identified a barrier, but this is anecdotal
  • it will be important that guidance does not sit on the shelf and so consideration should be given to how it will be actively promoted and embedded
  • guidance should include information on how to engage with parents/families and the role of young people in this engagement
  • some groups discussed mandatory requirements. Some felt that high quality guidance and school self-evaluation would be more impactful. Others felt that mandatory reporting may be desirable to support systemic change, but needs to be approached carefully as a longer term goal

Engaging with young people

  • engagement needs to be good quality and focused on allowing young people to be involved in decision making (and avoid causing them to focus on trauma) – funding will be needed to support this
  • to maximise impact, engagement should involve people who have been through experiences, but this needs to be really carefully handled
  • existing information and evidence should be used where this exists
  • generally in supporting systemic change, anti-racist clubs are a useful way of creating safe spaces and can organically feed into school approaches
  • pupil Councils were suggested as a good way to engage with young people. Educating, empowering, and creating a safe space in the infrastructure that is already there. Need to consider how representative are pupils councils?
  • need to emphasise links of this work to UNCRC

Do the timescales seem sensible and achievable?

General comments

  • timescales as currently set out are ambitious
  • there is a need to be mindful of organisations whose representatives are voluntary, and their time and input to the working group
  • sequencing of actions: the next year should be about building the knowledge base among education staff, which should in turn inform recording

Thought needs to be given to how different pieces of guidance (in the workstream and across all workstreams) interact. It will be important not to crowd the system and it is better to take longer over getting it right than issuing something quickly.

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