Wendy Williams, author of the 2020 Windrush Review, was right when she stated that members of the Windrush generation and their children have been poorly served by this country. Williams stated: “They had every right to be here and should never have been caught in the immigration net…failings demonstrate an institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation, which are consistent with some elements of the definition of institutional racism.”

Windrush day actions

Tweet about Windrush Day

Use #WindrushDay and #NEU about what it means for you as a teacher or for children in 2021. This can be a personal experience, the impact on those around you or the continuing work for equality and justice marked by the Windrush scandal.

Challenge the hostile environment

Petition the home secretary on the hostile environment. The Windrush scandal exposed the reality of this environment for migrants in the UK.

More actions can be found further down the page.

Educational disparity

Here are some examples of systemic racial disparities in education today:

  1. People of Black Caribbean origin make up 2.3% of teachers and 0.7 of headteachers. In 2020 the Institute of Education published a report which found that according to figures for 2019, 65% of pupils and 86% of teachers are white British. Analysis of the 2018 School Workforce Census and related administrative school census datasets, found that 46% of all schools in England had no Black teachers at all. In the last few months, many Caribbean NEU teachers have been at the forefront of the Union's work with the DfE to promote a fairer system for the recognition of teaching qualifications for teachers all over the world, and particularly those in the global south. The Professional Qualifications Bill, which our NEU members may have influenced and is currently making its way through parliament, will mean that a person's suitability to work in English schools will be assessed on their individual merits rather than on where they qualified.
  2. We still don’t have a curriculum which recognises the extent and significance of Black and global histories. Yet the English Government is refusing to review it – although the Welsh Government have done so.
  3. Initial Teacher Education does not adequately prepare teachers for creating inclusive classrooms. Over half of newly qualified teachers did not think their courses prepared them well to teach “across all ethnic backgrounds” and only 39% of those completing the Annual Teachers’ Survey said their course prepared them well to “teach EAL pupils”. Local authorities, charities and community groups can submit bids for funding from the Windrush Day Grant Scheme.
  4. Whereas racism in the 1950’s was lawful, today it is not, yet is still experienced by teachers and pupils and is a key factor in recruitment, retention and progression. See NEU Barriers report and Institute of Education Report for more.

For the IOE study in 2020, a primary school teacher of Black Caribbean heritage told researchers she decided to leave teaching within five years of qualifying after experiencing racism. Her first job, which she enjoyed, was in a diverse London school, but when she moved to do supply teaching in Bristol, she said there was little diversity. “The racism, for me it was too much,” she said. She returned to a London school where the pupil intake was 97% black African and Caribbean but all six members of the SLT were white.

The 2012 hostile environment policy instigated by May’s Government and exposed by the Windrush scandal, while widely discredited, lingers on. The new immigration policies of the Government in 2021 pander to an anti-immigrant sentiment.

In May 2021, the Home Secretary said: "We are also taking action so that the Windrush generation are not prevented from qualifying for British citizenship because, through no fault of their own, they were unable to return to the UK and meet residence requirements". But we have yet to see what that actually means beyond funding for ‘community celebrations." Councils and community groups can receive up to £25,000 each to host events and activities from the 2021 Windrush Day Grant Scheme.

Wendy Williams ends her 2020 review with 30 recommendations for change which we need to see implemented. One of these reommendations, which applies to all schools is: 

“The Home Office should devise, implement and review a comprehensive learning and development programme which makes sure all its existing and new staff learn about the history of the UK and its relationship with the rest of the world, including Britain’s colonial history, the history of inward and outward migration and the history of black Britons.”

More things you can do

Support other campaigns fighting the hostile environment:

Attend virtual events

Watch

Read

  • Maya Goodfellow’s book, Hostile Environment, on Britain’s immigration policy over many decades (temporarily out of print, but the e-book is available)
  • One of many books about the Windrush generation 

Use teaching resources about the history of migration

(Adapted from the Windrush Day 2021 website)

The NEU is working on curriculum review, initial teacher education, and creating anti-racist approaches in schools and colleges. For more information, please contact equality@neu.org.uk and see our page on racism and education which has on it the Anti-Racist Framework for schools and colleges.