Commenting on the report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, published today, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“We do not need more reports like this. The evidence about racial disparities and race discrimination in employment exists from other inquiries and is well documented. The Windrush Review recommendations must be taken seriously by the Government. We have already got comprehensive data showing the barriers for Black children and the need for a more inclusive school curriculum and better progression through the workforce. Many schools themselves are already showing the lead on this and decolonising their curriculum, but today’s report misses the point that schools are doing this in the absence of support and despite the Government.
“We are witnessing a huge push forward with schools doing innovative planning around their curriculum because schools want the positive contribution and achievements of Black communities recognised and represented. It is urgent that all Black students can access a positive, engaging and representative curriculum in their school or college. The Government isn’t listening on the need to review the curriculum. Adding content to the curriculum isn’t straightforward and must not be piecemeal but the Westminster Government should be looking at Wales where they are adapting the curriculum. Black staff face discrimination and there is an ethnicity gap in education, and so we need to be open and upfront when talking about racism, its roots, and the deeply embedded discrimination that is still prevalent because of racism in Britain today.
“This report today is out of step with public opinion, with the teaching profession, and with Black parents. There is a huge call from the public to tackle inequality around racism and sexism and to build a fairer world after this pandemic. The NEU has recruited many schools to use our anti-racist framework and we publish teaching materials which advance race equality.
“Education must be a space where the stereotypes and myths that cause racism and racial profiling can be talked about and challenged. Teachers need much more training, especially student teachers, so the profession is confident to respond to these important social issues. Many young people experience racism. Every student needs an anti-racist education, especially when you consider the hateful and harmful content online which is being targeted at young people.
"46% of Black children are living in poverty so the conversation about racism and poverty must go hand in hand. And urgent action on living standards and secure jobs must be centre stage. It is disingenuous and misleading to seek to divide Black working class communities and white working class communities. Leadership and collaboration on reducing child poverty is needed. Ending poverty and racism requires action by everyone. It is true that Black children often face two obstacles - one racism, the other poverty, but far from using this to say racism doesn't matter, it should be a clarion call to act on both. This Government is failing on both.”