From education to employment

#AntiRacismInAction: Leadership and the Leader’s Voice | Episode 9

ep 9

By the *Black Further Education Leadership Group (BFELG): #AntiRacismInAction: Leadership and the Leader’s Voice with Larissa Kennedy, National President, NUS UK; Nazir Afzal OBE Chair, Hopwood Hall College; Robin Landman OBE, Co-founder and BFELG Director;  The Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP, Secretary of State for Education.

The 9th and final episode  of Season 1 BFELG Livestreams #AntiRacismInAction – Making the Most of an Ethnically Diverse Britain, aired today, November 29. The first episode aired on Monday 4 October and has been followed by a fantastic feast of 30  minute weekly broadcasts on seven consecutive Mondays. Each Episode had a different focus, showcasing Anti-racism in action and exploring how diverse groups in the education sector and beyond can get involved.

With each Livestream introduced by a public figure and influencer sharing what #AntiRacismInAction means to them, the Season has taken us on a rich journey across the UK. Guests have included influencers, provocateurs and a diverse range of stakeholders from the world of education and the communities it serves. There were quite stunning examples of ‘thought leadership into action’, collaborative leadership and place-based leadership creating opportunities to tackle, with determination, institutional, regional and national challenges in the area of racism.

Today’s Episode focused on Leadership and the Leader’s Voice, a fantastic opportunity to bring together four highly influential and powerful voices in the persons of Larissa Kennedy, Nazir Afzal OBE,  Robin Landman OBE, and the Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Nadhim` Zahawi, MP. The Episode was co-produced by BFELG and FE News, co-anchored by Gavin O’Meara  (CEO and Head of Digital, FE News), and Stella Mbubaegbu CBE, Co-founder and BFELG Director.

In her welcome and introduction to the Episode, Larissa Kennedy, National President, NUS UK spoke succinctly about what #AntiRacismInAction means to her: ‘it’s decolonial, transformational action that’s truly ready to reckon with the way racism is sewn into the fabric of our education system.’

Guests and co-anchors also spoke about what #AntiRacismInAction means to them and reflected briefly on their leadership journeys in this space – why they do what they do.

Nazir is the Chair of Hopwood Hall College. He was Chief Crown Prosecutor for NW England and formerly Director in London. Most recently, he was Chief Executive of the country’s Police &Crime Commissioners. During a 24 year career, he has prosecuted the most high profile cases in the country, advised on many others, and led nationally on several legal topics. Nazir is a published writer. His new book The Race to the Top: Structural Racism and How to Fight It  will be published in September 2022. His memoirs “The Prosecutor – One Man’s Pursuit of Justice for the Voiceless;”  published in 2020 has in part been the inspiration behind the theme of Episode 9  – Leadership and the Leader’s Voice. Nazir is also a tutor for several leadership programmes in the public and private sector and he is a powerful advocate for the work BFELG. 

Robin is a co-founder, Director and member of the BFELG Executive. Like all team members he works in a voluntary capacity. In addition, he is Vice Chair of Governors at Lewisham College and a member of the CMI Race Advisory Committee. Prior to that, he was co-founder and former CEO of the Network for Black Professionals.  Robin was a schoolteacher for ten years before a 30-year career in further education management, working in four colleges, the Further Education Funding Council and for the British Council in South Africa. The BFELG has as part of its core purposes to be the ‘authoritative voice of Anti-racism in the FE sector’. 

BFELG/FE News Livestream caught up recently with the Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP, Secretary of State for Education, an inspirational figure who, arriving in the UK at age 11 without knowing a word of English, has risen to his current position, which he describes as his dream job.  It was great to see the Secretary of State featured in this final Episode. Speaking on #AntiRacismInAction, he said  ‘it’s really important that we engage in this ….it can be uncomfortable’.  He added that the civil service needs to be much more representative and diverse – a lot of work has been done on this. He said that it is  challenging when only 9% of our Principals and College leaders are from black or ethnic minority backgrounds and he wants to work with the sector to make sure that paths to leadership are seamless and frictionless for people from minority communities – there should be no barriers put in place, in fact there should be support. He commended the BFELG for its work and for leading the agenda.

There were interesting follow-up messages from Guests and Co-hosts to the Secretary of State:

On behalf of the BFELG, Robin Landman asked the Secretary of State to take decisive action in two areas: firstly, level up  student outcomes across all phases of education; secondly, achieve a representative workforce within a society that’s becoming  increasingly more diverse.

In addition, Robin drew attention to the following key message from a summary of the views expressed by over 200 participants from across the UK FE system who attended the BFELG Inaugural Conference earlier in the year:The Secretary of State for Education should provide strong leadership for anti-racism, adopting a joined-up approach across all systems organisations and regulators. Accountability and transparency of individual organisational targets and outcomes will be important to demonstrate leadership by example.

And to Larissa as National President, Robin called for NUS UK to work collaboratively with the BFELG to ensure that the 10 Point Plan priority for a radical review of curricular and qualifications is accelerated and becomes a reality across all UK education systems, building on the work so far.

It was fascinating to listen to Nazir’s perspectives on ‘giving a voice to the voiceless’ in the context of his memoirs. The questions for all leaders are:

‘How do we give a voice to the voiceless as a collective?’  AND ‘Is there an imperative to do so?’.

Watch the Livestream to hear Nazir, Robin, Gavin and Stella share their individual dream scenarios for Anti-racism.

AND  following the announcement on today’s broadcast by Robin Landman, watch out for further details about BFELG’s 2ND Annual Conference ‘Challenging the Black Paradox – a cross-sector, four nations event’   Wednesday 16 March 2022.

Season 1 has been a fantastic collaboration between BFELG and FE News with Kelly O’Meara, Aliyah Harvey, Finley Vile, Gavin O’Meara and Stella Mbubaegbu CBE working behind the scenes and on screen to make it all happen.

Watch out for Season 2 coming in early 2022!

’Black’ is used as an inclusive definition to refer to people from ethnically diverse backgrounds who share a lived experience of  the effects of racism.

Related Articles