NEU: Education must ‘lead the way’ in breaking down barriers caused by racism

The trade union said steps must be taken now to build a better curriculum after Covid-19

The National Education Union (NEU) has responded to protests taking place around the world for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said education must “lead the way” in breaking down barriers caused by racism.

“This is not the time for patience but for action against racism,” said Bousted. “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.”

She said the curriculum must be improved so pupils learn about how Britain was founded on global histories, the achievements and roles of black Britons in every field and the campaigns by black workers for equal treatment.

She continued: “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.”

There are many steps that must be taken – and taken now – to build a better approach to the national curriculum after Covid-19

Bousted said the NEU will launch an anti-racist framework 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,” Bousted added.

Rugby School, an independent boarding school for pupils aged 13–18 in Rugby, Warwickshire, recently released a statement on how it is going to step up its response to racism.

It read: “In response to current events in the USA and their subsequent effects across the globe, Rugby School recognises the systemic societal problem of racism here in the UK. We are taking the time to make a considerable effort to look inward and intensify our response to underlying racism within the school.

“Rugby is devoted to making itself an inclusive and welcoming environment for all students. We teach that the Whole Person is the Whole Point, it is time we all made an effort to better our person.”

The school encouraged others in education to visit the BAMEed website for resources that aim to make the education sector reflective of society.

What has the NEU called on the government to do?

  • 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.
  • 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.


Read the NEU’s full response:

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