Today is national Stephen Lawrence Day. As the NEU remembers Stephen on the anniversary of his murder, we must all aim to help build a more inclusive society that can treat everyone with fairness and respect.

The Stephen Lawrence Foundation has a variety of useful resources for the classroom.

Macpherson Inquiry

The Macpherson Inquiry into his murder found institutional racism in the police and also implicated other public bodies and policy including education.

The NEU is, like Stephen’s mother Doreen, appalled at the findings and conclusions of the government’s 2021 Sewell report into racial disparities which in sum deny institutional racism. The NEU will continue to press the government to reform the curriculum and challenge racism throughout the education system.  The NEU recommends Doreen Lawrence’s own report “An Avoidable Crisis”

We would like all schools and colleges to do something on the theme of challenging racism to respect and pay tribute to Stephen Lawrence and all those who have been killed or harmed by racism.

The Macpherson inquiry report made 3 key education requirements – sadly still valid today. These are below alongside relevant NEU actions.

  1. That consideration be given to amendment of the National Curriculum aimed at valuing cultural diversity and preventing racism, in order better to reflect the needs of a diverse society.
    • The NEU is calling 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; We will build on the Windrush ‘Lessons Learned’ review and the Doreen Lawrence review.
    • We are working to stop the silence around British imperialism and racism in the British education system, as well as lack of histories from around the world, to create a broad and balanced education for ALL children.
    • The NEU is partnering the Runnymede Trust to form an independent working group to review the history curriculum. This is to ensure that the government’s announcement that they are designing a new ‘Model History Curriculum’ includes all communities and global histories particularly for example Black, Jewish, and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller perspectives
    • NEU Packs were produced for teaching Black history. Additionally, monthly podcasts by Black women are being posted on our website to indicate that Black history must be all year round in every part of the curriculum.
    • We are working with the Hamilton Commission to enable more Black young people to achieve in STEM subjects and engineering.
  2. That Local Education Authorities and school Governors have the duty to create and implement strategies in their schools to prevent and address racism.
    • The NEU is working to enabling members to use our Anti-Racist Framework in their schools and colleges. So far we have reached over 2000 people and 100’s of schools but our ambition with the support of the Hamilton Commission is to reach all schools by 2025 and to have supported them in tackling racism with the Framework.
    • We have commissioned research to influence policy and frameworks for Initial Teacher Education to better prepare teachers for creating inclusive and anti-racist schools and colleges.
  3. the numbers and self defined ethnic identity of "excluded" pupils are published annually on a school by school basis.
    • We are developing policy and guidance on racially disproportionate exclusions of Black children and have published briefings on Racism and Exclusions and our research on Place and Belonging  finds that those who excluded informally or formally will often seek belonging in dangerous arenas. 

The poem below reminds us of the tragedy of the loss of Black lives to racism either literally as a result of violence or analogously as a result of discriminatory policy and systems that squander Black potential.

Any Bus Stop In England (in memory of Stephen Lawrence)

He was one,
They were more.
They are above the law,
Like the bus that didn’t come,
His journey was over before it had barely began.

They walk,
He has fallen,
They laugh and talk,
His voice has been stolen.
Like the bus doors that did not open,
Justice stays closed and unspoken.

They are free,
Living in a world that allows this to be.
Unquestioned by friends and family
In a system that allows complicity.
Like some bus of old, that allowed segregation,
Not recognising we all deserve the same destination.

Living goes on,
In a world of different skin.
His life briefly shone,
remembered as a beautiful thing.

Change takes so long,
But change we have to bring.
Until the hatred has gone.
Like the bus that doesn’t come,
Next time it might be your son.

Author: Paul Lyalls from
An Anthology of Poems about BLM 
Black Lives Matter: Poems for a New World (CivicLeicester, 2020)