Race Equality in Education Programme: Stakeholder Network Group: school leadership and professional learning, March 2021

A supporting document of the Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme: Stakeholder Network Group's March 2021 meeting.


In 2020-21, the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government made a commitment that, ‘In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, and one of the recommendations made by the Scottish Government's COVID-19 Ethnicity Expert Group, [the Scottish Government would] engage with relevant stakeholders to better enable our children and young people to learn about Scotland's colonial and slavery history and the real need today to challenge racism, eliminate racial discrimination and advance equality’.

A meaningful, responsive and effective approach to race equality and anti-racism in education requires a whole-system approach and, most importantly, visible leadership at all levels.

This paper for the Stakeholder Network Group meeting on 25 March focuses on School Leadership and Professional Learning, one of the 4 thematic areas identified by education and race equality stakeholders requiring action, in order to tackle race inequality and racism. While focusing on that theme, it is imperative to remember that it is not being considered in isolation, due to the indivisible links with Diversity in the Teaching Profession, Curriculum Reform, and Racism and Bullying. There are synergies and interactions which exist between these work streams, and transcend them. The issues of race inequality which manifest themselves in school settings are interlinked to wider systemic race inequality.

In using this meeting to begin to consider the draft proposals on School Leadership and Professional Learning contained in this paper, thought should be given to how they link in to wider organisations and commitments. The Scottish education sector is huge, with 32 Local Authority employers, over 5,000 schools, more than 70,000 registered teachers and a huge range of organisations, many of which are represented on this stakeholder group. Effectively changing culture and upskilling a sector of this size is going to take a range of strategies with a large number of organisations playing a role to ensure that everyone is facing in the same direction, engaging the system as a resource in its entirety, with a shared vision and shared outcomes to create lasting change.

Overarching aim

As well as considering how the draft proposals might develop, during this meeting we will also take the opportunity to endeavour to agree the overarching aim of the School Leadership and Professional Learning workstream. In order to do that, the role of leadership and why it is important, and distinct from professional learning needs to be explored.

It goes without saying that clear, consistent leadership on race equality and anti-racism is required at all levels to create the conditions for change. Once that change is identified and agreed, it needs to continue to be clearly articulated, not just during the lifetime of this workstream but by leaders at all levels in education, as part of their vision for their organisation, based on their personal and professional values.

We know that there is an onus on leaders to promote, explore, challenge and include, in order to ensure that a racially competent, non-race evasive culture pervades in a school. To achieve this, that vision needs to be articulated at every opportunity, influencing staff and other stakeholders to share and build upon it. The ethos, structures and activities of the school working collaboratively with other education stakeholders must be geared towards the achievement of that shared vision.

However, robust leadership cannot occur without good quality leadership professional learning and as part of this workstream, consideration needs to be given to the distinction between professional learning and professional learning for leadership and how race equality and anti-racist approaches are embedded in both. In addition, robust leadership cannot occur without a diverse leadership team and the need to diversify representation of educators at all levels should underpin any aims and ambitions. The stakeholder group shall return to this issue when we discuss next steps in respect of diversity in the education workforce.

The following draft form of words endeavours to reflect what the overarching vision for this workstream, might be, and we will discuss it in more detail in breakout groups at the meeting on 25 March, in an attempt to come to a consensus:

Draft: 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.

Capacity for change

In order to achieve a vision similar to the one set out above, opportunities to work with a broad range of partner organisations including local authorities, Regional Improvement Collaboratives (RICs), Education Scotland, the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) and professional associations need to be explored to identify how best to realise the change required.

One of the positive aspects of the School Leadership and Professional Learning workstreams is the capacity to build on, and expand, work already in place to support change. At both national and local level significant work has been undertaken which provides foundations for change. This includes but is not limited to:

Initial Teacher Education: 

  • course content
  • self-evaluation framework for ITE Symposium, scheduled to take place in June which will have equality and diversity as a main theme, capitalising on the work of professional associations in this area including the EIS BAME group
  • the creation of a new race equality/anti-racist framework jointly funded by all 11 ITE providers, by August 2021. The framework will include the entire ITE process, from marketing, admissions, content and processes of curriculum to student support

GTCS Standards

(ITE, achieving the Standard for Registration and Headship)

National, regional and local PL offer

Professional learning for teachers at different stages in their career that is designed to improve understanding of race inequality in schools available through local authorities, Education Scotland, professional associations and a range of partner organisations. Further exploration of the Regional Improvement Collaboratives’ role in supporting a broader range of professional learning, opportunities presented by the addition of Lead Teacher roles in the system, and additional developments related to local, regional and national professional learning. 

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) have offered bespoke anti-racism professional learning sessions through their newly established EIS Black Asian and Minority Ethnic Network and sessions for Equality Reps, School Reps, Local Authority Secretaries, depute headteachers and headteachers, in addition to written guidance for Reps on Mobilising for Anti-Racism at Work. The resources and materials used in these sessions are available from the EIS website.

NASUWT have recently reviewed and updated their professional learning offer for members and representatives to include more equality training. NASUWT have also lobbied for more racial literacy amongst various education working groups. For instance, by encouraging culturally-responsive and race-informed services when stakeholders offer mental wellbeing support for pupils and teachers.

HMIE quality indicators

Quality Indicator (QI) 3.1 in How Good is Our School 4, contains the following level 5 inclusion and equality descriptor:

“We ensure inclusion and equality leads to improved outcomes for all learners. All learners are included, engaged and involved in the life of the school. All children and young people feel very well supported to do their best. Learners, parents and carers, staff and partners feel that they are treated with respect and in a fair and just manner. We understand, value and celebrate diversity and challenge discrimination. In our school age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation are not barriers to participation and achievement. We have effective strategies in place which are improving attainment and achievement for children and young people facing challenges such as those from our most deprived areas, young carers, those who are looked after and those with additional support needs.”

Teaching in a Diverse Scotland: 3 years on

Building upon the recommendations in the newly published Teaching in a Diverse Scotland, in particular Professor Arshad’s ambition to create a teaching workforce which is not race evasive.


In advance of the first meeting of the Stakeholder Network Group, a proposals paper was circulated to members. Members agreed that it should be used as a working document, and that further consideration and subsequent distillation activity should be undertaken to sharpen them (and identify new ones if required). 

Thought also needs to be given to proposals which actually constitute outputs or outcomes which would instead contribute to the achievement of a proposal. We will cover this during the discussion at the meeting on 25 March.

Extracted from the proposals paper: 

Proposals 23 and 24 sit in the School leadership and Professional Learning section of the paper:

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. 

In discussing proposals 23 and 24, consideration can be given to the differences between them. For example, 23 related to the quality of leadership in schools, and 24 is more about the quality and availability of professional learning. While the understanding of the whole schools workforce is important, perhaps a starting point for this discussion should be the quality of professional learning for school leaders, given their role in shaping and modelling the culture and values in their establishments.

Broadening out some of the language to reflect that would be helpful. Similarly, consideration should be given to using the term ‘learning’ as opposed to ‘training’ in order to underpin the message that this is about wholesale culture shift, as opposed to being told how to use resources. The recognition of the place of individual values, school values, young people’s values and how they interlink and connect is essential. 

Recognising the indivisibility of the proposals, the following were captured in the Curriculum Reform section, but they have significant overlap with the group’s ambitions for School Leadership and Professional Learning: 

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.

Whilst these proposals relate to curriculum reform, realising all three will require high quality educational leadership across the system. Developing, implementing and nurturing a whole school approach and culture requires leaders at all level of the system with the right values and leadership skills. It is important therefore to consider the extent to which national, regional and local leadership professional learning programmes are supporting leaders in the system to develop in such a way as to realise these outcomes for our schools. 

Group discussion

During the meeting we will use this paper on which to base a discussion which looks to achieve the following:

  • agree the overarching aim for this workstream
  • in break out groups, undertake exploration of the themes within the School Leadership and Professional Learning theme
  • consider how we begin to distil the existing proposals

Groups may wish to consider the existing opportunities for the schools workforce to learn about race inequality, how and whether they could be strengthened and how best to engage a large and busy professional group in key learning activity. Examples of these are included at Annexes A and B.

Annex A

Areas now covered in Education Scotland’s Professional and Leadership programmes

Education Scotland offer professional learning that supports the development of anti-racist practice at all levels of teaching, works with partners to deliver this professional learning and also signposts further learning across the system.


The Teacher Leadership Programme (TLP) offers anti-racist workshops to participants on Critical Race Theory and Decolonising the Curriculum with these sessions taking place in December 2020 and then recorded and available to watch anytime. Sessions were led by members of SAMEE (Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators). A TedTalk on Cultural Intelligence is now part of the TLP 20/21 Pre-programme reading.

As part of the Covid-19 Education Recovery Group (CERG) Workstream 6 coaching and mentoring offer, Education Scotland and the General Teaching Council for Scotland are working with SAMEE in three ways. The first, to deliver their bespoke Leadership and Mentoring Programme for Black and minority ethnic educators. This programme provides safe, positive spaces for Black and minority ethnic educators to acknowledge their experiences, affirm their skills and competencies, define actions to support career progression and develop into race-cognisant advocates. The second area of this work includes peer-to peer-mentoring. The aim of this is to prepare and support Black and minority ethnic teachers who have undertaken the Leadership and Mentoring programme to mentor fellow teachers, building capacity within the profession. This work involves working closely with Black and minority ethnic educators and white senior leaders to support their learning in the area of race equality and professional equity. The third area involves working with Black and minority ethnic teachers in mentoring through preparation for promotion to leadership roles.

Post probationers

The Stepping Stones programme, part of the same CERG package of support and aimed at teachers in their first four years post-probation, includes a workshop on culturally-responsive pedagogy.

Middle leaders

Participants in the Middle Leaders Leading Change programme engage in self-reflection around cultural intelligence, exploring work by Julia Middleton, a noted expert and campaigner for the progression of diverse leaders in a civil society. Participants also engage in reading around the importance of diversity from a leadership perspective and plan how they are going to take the leadership of cultural intelligence and anti-racism forward in future.

Aspiring school leaders

A revision and refresh of core learning modules of the Into Headship programme in 2020/21 will be undertaken with Black and minority ethnic educators to ensure it cover intercultural and anti-racist professional learning. This means from 2021/22 all practitioners obtaining the Standard for Headship will have undergone anti-racist professional learning.

Professor Rowena Arshad provides an annual lecture to new Into Headship participants at their conference on race and ‘Leading for Equality.’

School leaders

The Excellence in Headship Programme offers ‘Learn’ sessions for headteachers on Socially Just Leadership, designed and delivered by Khadija Mohammed, Chair of SAMEE. One session was delivered in 2020 with the remaining two sessions planned for 2021.

A new extension of the Excellence in Headship programme (EIH Stretch) facilitates headteachers to undertake collaborative enquiry. Six headteachers have elected to focus on equalities and diversity.

From the 2021/22 academic session, Excellence in Headship will be developing a new core element of the programme around cultural identity.

System leaders

The Evolving Systems Thinking Programme has the core focus of Leadership for school and System improvement. This work is based on and encompasses the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion with a strong focus on the ethical stance of school and system leaders as advocates for every child, young person and their families in our system.

Specific aspects of the work covered include:

  • exploring the roles of school and system leaders in terms of processes, providing and aligning resources, developing leadership capacity and ensuring productive relationships
  • understanding effective practices at school and system level
  • exploring in-depth the concepts of emotional and cultural intelligence
  • through the online professional learning resource that sits on the Education Scotland website we have recently posted a guest blog from the Anti-Racist Educator site and signposted further reading

The Education Scotland Race Equality Wakelet pulls together a wide range of resources for professional learning for all staff, including those supporting learners.

Annex B

Paper 1 - update from the West Partnership

Teaching in a Diverse Scotland: Increasing and Retaining Minority Ethnic Teachers in Scotland’s Schools

Recommendation 14

Local Authorities should recognise and support aspiring minority ethnic teachers and encourage them to apply for promotion both within schools and across the wider education service. As part of this, local authorities should examine how racism, institutional racism, bias (conscious or unconscious), and lack of awareness act as blocks to the promotion of BME teachers. This should be done in partnership with BME teachers who can inform such an exercise

  • focus groups have been undertaken with 8 BME teachers across the West Partnership and a questionnaire has been sent out to others who were interested in taking part but could not attend the meeting. Awaiting responses which will then be collated
  • barriers to promotion discussed and identified
  • identify strategies to increase awareness of leadership opportunities across Glasgow City Council/West Partnership/Scotland and ESPLL -Into Headship, In Headship, Excellence In Headship)
  • ensure that all leadership programmes offered in WP have an element of promoting race equality. (WP Leadership work stream group)
  • design and development of a bespoke leadership programme. Explore how others have designed programmes e.g. SAMEE, BALI, BBC leadership course (ADES funding for national programme)
  • explore BME teachers interest to become mentors to help support young people who are interested in teaching as a future career, BME representation on interview panels, support training by providing case studies
  • opportunities for Anti-racism training to be explored
  • link with the national ‘Diversity in the Teaching Profession Working Group

Recommendation 4

Local authorities should ensure that the need to recruit and support a diverse workforce is understood by all relevant staff. Actions to be undertaken:

  • gather data regarding ethnicity from education HR departments in different local authorities
  • make sure ethnic origin is updated by BME staff on My portal to ensure statistics are accurate
  • looking into different organisations to find out how they have approached this e.g. BBC, Sky, Police Scotland with a view to replicating effective processes and procedures within an education context

Positive Action

  • Glasgow Education HR pilot schemes Almeezan group, extend out to other communities (Sikh/Hindu/Chinese community groups) and explore implementation of this model across the West Partnership
  • corporate HR action plan ideas e.g. disclaimer on applications to include ‘we value diversity and inclusion and aim to reflect the make-up of the city. We’re particularly keen to receive applications from BME applicants who are currently under-represented in our workforce
  • more joined up work across the council family in the advertisement of roles/jobs
  • HR training for recruiters-Unconscious Bias
  • interview panels to include BME teachers-could be part of an offer to BME teachers interested in leadership opportunities
  • CRER (Collation for Racial Equality and Rights) training, awareness raising on Race and the recommendations from the report-half day for HTs event

Recommendation 5

Local authorities and schools should recognise multilingual teachers as valuable members of staff who are able and capable of enhancing the learning of a wide range of pupils, not just pupils for whom English is an Additional Language.

  • suggestions made from the focus group of BME teachers across the West Partnership can help here
  • BME teachers used as mentors for youngsters, good role models for advertising campaigns (to help encourage other BME people to choose education as a career), exploration of reverse mentoring in HT induction courses

Recommendation 6

Local authorities, ITE providers, Skills Development Scotland, the GTCS, Scottish Government and relevant third sector organisations who have experience in this area should take joint action to encourage young minority ethnic people to identify teaching as a profession of choice

  • Skills Development Scotland have informed me that they have contacts in all 8 LAs apart from North Lan and South Lan schools which can help disseminate any information across the West Partnership
  • employment and Skills team Glasgow –make links with Pastoral care teams in schools with high number of BME pupils to create focus groups to find out what would motivate pupils to consider a career in teaching
  • exploring the possibility of VOX LIMINIS to hosting an event across the West Partnership
  • events in schools to promote teaching such as Careers Fayres etc.
  • SDS teaching job profile posters and lessons for Developing the Young Workforce Fdisseminated and promoted across West Partnership
  • make links with universities to find out what mentoring programmes they offer in relation to supporting BME students

Recommendation 13

Local Authorities should prepare more detailed guidance to support probationer teachers and teacher mentors to understand the legal and statutory requirements with respect to race equality and diversity, and their rights as employees should they face discrimination or harassment.

  • emailed all Probationer leads to update them on my role
  • update GCC probationer handbook to include a section with the legal and statutory requirements with respect to race equality and diversity, and their rights as employees should they face discrimination or harassment
  • giving copies to all Probationer Lead officers in other authorities to use as a model
  • ensure there is an input regarding the above in the teacher mentor programme and share across authorities via Leadership Work stream
  • offer follow on training to include racism faced by staff in the workplace, unconscious bias training etc –probationers, mentors and new HTs ( WP Leadership group)
Back to top