Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said:

“The Government’s approach to tackling racism remains inadequate, divisive and too often inflammatory. The recent Sewell Report failed to acknowledge the realities of institutional racism. The Government has chosen to suggest there is a conflict between supporting white working-class communities and supporting Black and ethnic minorities, when there is not. Immigration policy and legislation in the UK continues to stigmatise asylum seekers and fails to make fair provision. 

“The Government needs to display a much greater understanding and acknowledgement of how poverty and racism affect young people’s lives. Ratcheting up targets around academic attainment isn’t the answer, and the Schools White Paper has nothing to say on poverty. This is in spite of a sharp rise in child poverty over the course of the pandemic, with 46% of Black children living in low-income families. 

“The Government needs to improve their piecemeal and superficial approach to inequality in the education system and take on a systematic review which addresses initial teacher education, the curriculum, teacher recruitment and disproportionality in exclusions.

“The NEU is working to build participation of teachers and students in schools around challenging racism. That’s why we have launched a union-wide plan to roll out the NEU’s Anti-Racist Framework to all schools. This framework is designed to encourage conversations and actions to challenge racism and has already been commended by The Hamilton Commission.

“The union is also setting up a curriculum working group with our partners the Runnymede Trust. Once again we will be supporting Refugee Week in June. We are also proud to work with Schools of Sanctuary, dedicated to supporting the thousands of young people forced to come and live in the UK in search of safety.”

ENDS

Note to editors

We are currently in Bournemouth for our Annual Conference (11-14 April), during which time you will receive a higher number of press releases than usual.  

The Conference Press Office can be reached on 07879 480 061. You can also email the press officer at caroline.cowie@neu.org.uk  

Our conference agenda is available here

The hashtag for Annual Conference is #NEU2022 

  • The National Education Union stands up for the future of education. It brings together the voices of more than 450,000 teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in maintained and independent schools and colleges across the UK, to form the largest education union in Europe. 
  • It is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing its members in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. 

The National Education Union is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). It is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.