ANTI-RACISM SERVICES FOR SCHOOLS
In the wake of the global Black Lives Matter protests, institutions are being asked to review how they move on from a place of being non-racist to actively anti-racist, with a demonstratable stance on anti-black racism.
Schools, in particular, have come under public scrutiny in this respect, and the issues highlighted can be attributed to a disproportionate lack of Black governance, staff, and students in these spaces.
In response to the series of open letters sent to schools by students and alumni detailing experiences of racism, in June 2020, ACEN members requested that we contact 40+ independent and grammar schools as a collective, to both address issues of racism, and offer solutions to move towards the creation of actively anti-racist learning environments for students and staff alike. Please click here for a copy of the ACEN letter.
The resulting conversations were predominantly the same, with schools sharing the same challenges, misunderstandings, and in some cases fears. Most schools rushed to procure unconscious bias training, and even at that time, we were aware that it provided too narrow a focus, and would have limited success if delivered in silos, without being part of a holistic framework.
As a result, to help schools undertake this work in an achievable and accountable manner, we have created a comprehensive anti-racism framework that directly tackles the host of issues as communicated by thousands of students, parents, alumni, and teachers across the country.
Our network includes a range of training professionals as well as teachers and senior leaders from the independent, grammar, and comprehensive sectors. As such, all of our training is not only research-informed, but it utlises the collective expertise as well as the professional and lived experience of these members.
The framework is vast and covers everything from curriculum recommendations and policy, to ‘lost customer’ research and governor training. We are clear that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach and the recommendations given must be relevant to each school depending on where they are in their anti-racism journey.
Our experience in this space has shown that without an audit of each environment and the creation of a specific anti-racism roadmap as a result of that audit, schools run the risk of undertaking work that’s not orderly, impactful, permanent, or recognised as relevant by their minority stakeholders.
ACEN emphatically states that lived experience is an expertise in and of itself. Considering the issues and subtleties of microaggressions and structural racism, where possible, we encourage organisations to procure anti-black racism services from Black training providers. We also believe that this should be the same when procuring specialist DE&I services for all groups with protected characteristics.