Black lives matter

Notes on ACT CPD course November/ December 2020

Beyond Black History Month

Teaching race and equality in Citizenship CPD November/December 2020

Adding a new dimension to the teaching of Citizenship: finding opportunities to reflect the perspective of students with a BAME background

Whole school approach

Talk to colleagues in all subjects not just English, History and Geography.
Are there BAME representative figures in their subject who can be referred to, celebrated when the opportunity arises?

School environment

How do students experience racial difference at school?  In some schools there may be very few BAME students. Imagine how a student feels who is the only one in a class?  Have white students thought about racial difference?  In others they may be in the majority.

Generation gap. Responses to Sainsbury’s ad showing coloured children and parents round a table at Christmas varied.  In schools where there was a large proportion of BAME students the general was that it just an ordinary family. For some parents it stimulated negative comment such as ’That’s not us.’ Do advertising companies think about diversity in designing ads?

What sort of environment does a school provide for BAME students where there is a predominance of white teachers? 2018 survey showed 85.9% of teachers are white British as also 92.1% of head teachers.

The classroom

Show humility and reflexivity. Encourage students to listen to the views of others in the classroom, engage with views that are not their own. 

In one scenario based on an actual case a girl student admitted being racist and that her parents were racist.  This led to the questions: ‘What do you think racism is?’ Or ‘What made you say that?’ These types of question help open up the subject.

Encourage advocacy, debate, sharing of opinions but you may need to draw the line on what are/ are not suitable comments. In deciding where to draw the line have regard to school policies on equality, duty, behaviour, safeguarding. Students have a right to express an opinion but not necessarily a right to the action that might follow. Racism is illegal under British law. Action would entail consequences.

Use of language

How do BAME children like to be referred to? Is BAME an acceptable term for them? Some descriptors are full of violence and negativity. But have the confidence to let students use the words black and white, or persons of colour. Normalise the discussion, the words.

Devote a lesson to language in schemes of work. Historical context, development of words and phrases. Make the discussion a shared experience. Let students explain why some terms are offensive to them.

Identity of minorities. Don’t lump everyone together. People with disability and people of different race need to be treated differently.

The curriculum

A great deal of work has been done on decolonising the curriculum.

For BAME students the teaching of colonial history and imperialism has traditionally been from a perspective of white dominance. Need to change the lens. How do you teach about the Commonwealth? What sources do you use? What stories will you tell? Histories of western dominance have limited what counts as authoritative knowledge. Global dominance of written English is another factor in producing inequality in access to academic knowledge.

Consider a student led curriculum. Study a letter from students, parents and governors to the head teacher of St John Colfox Academy and chairman of Minerva Learning Trust.

Look at the topics we teach through a different lens. BAME students can have a sense of alienation from topics of study. Politics tends to be associated with white elite, especially at the national level. There are just three BAME members in the UK Cabinet. BAME accounts for just 6.3% of members of the House of Lords.

Parts of the National Curriculum KS3 that lend themselves to representing the BAME perspective include: 

Rights and freedoms

The Human Rights Act 1998 that protects citizens regardless of race and ethnicity. See

Operation of courts and tribunals.  Would be worth investigating BAME representation in prison figures, stop and search, police staff and recruitment, UK deaths in custody, make up of the judiciary etc


Changing nature of UK society, history of migration

Rather than just looking at groups who have come to Britain and made a contribution (14.2% of those recognised in the 2020 New Year Honours had BAME backgrounds), look at how cultural traditions develop over time and how new identities emerge for the whole community.

AQA Life In Modern Britain. Case studies of what lack of mutual respect and understanding can lead to eg race riots, murder of Stephen Lawrence and most recently George Floyd.

Parliamentary democracy

Role of MPs, political representation and accountability. Do our MPs need to look like us? How well do they represent us? Politicians engage with their constituents and represent them on issues of concern.  Descriptive representatives mirror the characteristics of those they represent. Substantive representative represent the interests of groups.