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Leeds Trinity Associate Professor nominated for prestigious education leader award

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Associate Professor Syra Shakir from Leeds Trinity University has been nominated for the Forward Ladies 2023 Education/Academic Leader of the Year award.

Forward Ladies recognises and celebrates extraordinary and outstanding female business leaders across the nation.  This year’s ‘Breaking Barriers’ Leadership Summit and Awards will take place in London on Friday 24 November.

Syra, from Bradford, is an Associate Professor in Learning and Teaching based at Leeds Trinity’s Main Campus in Horsforth. She has been with the University for 15 years and is the lead for the work being done to embed race equity in the curriculum.

She also specialises in decolonisation, anti-racist pedagogy (method and practice of academic teaching), and the co-creation work with students to help build belonging and improve outcomes for all irrespective of their background.

Together with her colleague, filmmaker and Associate Professor Ricardo Barker, Syra has developed an anti-racist toolkit using a short film – Re:Tension, discussion and debate. The pair deliver these workshops along with the toolkit to other universities and organisations across the country as part of continuous professional development (CPD).

The film, which was written, directed and produced by Ricardo, explores the reality of how racism, micro-aggressions and unconscious bias can function in academic institutions. Re:Tension follows Thapelo, a 19-year-old student, as he wrestles with the idea of whether to report racism at his university. The short film has received both national and international awards from the film industry and recognition by Advance HE within Leeds Trinity’s Race Equality Charter (REC) action plan.

This work was reflected in the University’s shortlisting for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion’ at the Times Higher Education awards 2021 and the institution’s achievement of the 2021 Whatuni Student Choice Award for Diversity and Inclusion. Syra’s recent work has also seen her become a lead within Leeds Trinity’s Race Equality Charter team, for which the University achieved the Bronze award in 2020.

Syra Shakir said:

“I am thrilled to be shortlisted for the Forward Ladies Leadership Summit and Awards 2023. I am a highly experienced educator dedicated to supporting others and helping people to be the best that they can be. My professional background is in social work with children and families, helping those most disadvantaged and as an educator at Leeds Trinity University. I am passionate about challenging injustices, supporting our community, and helping people to be the best that they can be.

“I have been nominated for the Education and Academic Leader of the Year category. To be shortlisted and recognised for my work to date is a real honour. It’s also a pleasure to be able to participate in one of the largest celebrations of inspirational female leaders. Whatever the result is, I am looking forward to meeting so many influential and inspiring women at the ceremony.”

Professor Fiona Shelton, Dean of The Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Leeds Trinity University, said:

“Syra supports her students to see them not only graduate with a degree, but to be equipped to go into society with care and compassion for the communities they will serve, especially when it comes to equity and social justice. She has supported many people across West Yorkshire whilst in her social worker post and supported many students in education throughout her career in higher education.

“Syra is great role model. She overcomes challenges and turns everything into positive learning.

“I nominated Syra for the Forward Ladies Award because she goes above and beyond when it comes to teaching and inspiring our students and colleagues. Huge congratulations to Syra for being shortlisted for this prestigious award.”

Now in its thirteenth year, the Forward Ladies Leadership Summit and Awards recognise exceptional women who have been breaking barriers. Forward Leeds ‘Advocates for Change’ in gender equality include some recognisable names and faces including national journalist, broadcaster and author, Mary Ann Sieghart, and former Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North West of England and Chief Executive of the country’s Police & Crime Commissioners, Nazir Afzal OBE.

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