Commenting on protests taking place in cities and countries around the globe, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“This is not the time for patience but for action against racism.
“These protests, giving voice to deep inequalities, raise urgent questions. The demand is for safety, for equal respect and dignity, for equal representation and participation and freedom from racist violence. This is a demand for human rights.
“Urgent action is needed to address widespread stereotyping, discrimination and the fear and violence caused by racism. In education, we must lead the way in breaking down the barriers caused by racism.
“We must improve the curriculum so that students learn about how Britain was founded on global histories. Students should learn about the achievements and roles of Black Britons in every field of human endeavour. And they should learn about the campaigns by Black workers for equal treatment and the stand against injustice.
“Racism will not be addressed without positive action and we need to talk openly and candidly about racism and the social division and harmful stereotyping it creates for Black workers and for young Black people.
“There are many steps that must be taken – and taken now – to build a better approach to the national curriculum after Covid-19 and adopt a wider vision of education than a system that is all about exam results.
“The NEU calls on the Government to:
- Review the curriculum to ensure it embraces the fact that Britain is rooted in Black and global history, achievement and culture and includes the achievements of Black Britons; as recommended by the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.
- Commit to review Initial Teacher Training to equip all trainee teachers with anti-racist strategies and tools, for the benefit of all students.
- Adopt a strategy to make the pipeline of new entrants to the teaching profession significantly more diverse over the next four years.
- Learn from the Windrush Review and develop a Department for Education plan to teach about the history of the UK and its relationship to the rest of the world – including Britain's colonial history and the history of migration. (1)
- Provide immediate advice to employers in the education sector about the racial disparities in the pandemic in order to minimise risks to the wellbeing and safety of Black workers and the communities in which they live, work and travel.
“This term, the NEU will launch an anti-racist framework to respond to the experiences of Black children and Black staff and to help education staff develop anti-racist approaches.
“We support the initiatives from NGOs such as the Runnymede Trust and youth movements such as The Black Curriculum to highlight the importance of challenging the education system to be more inclusive and making the curriculum representative and relevant”