From education to employment

The Black FE Leadership Group – looking to the future #AntiRacismInAction

Stella Ngozi Mbubaegbu CBE, BFELG Executive Team Member

Earlier this week, we launched our annual impact report 2020-2021, ‘A year of remarkable impact’.

In unique, hybrid format, the Impact Report highlights the many successes of the Black* FE Leadership Group (BFELG) in the twelve months following inception in August 2020 and acknowledges the support and encouragement of our membership, allies and colleagues throughout the year.

Building on the achievements of the past year, our ambitious plans for the future have, at their core, our vision of an anti-racist society, a reimagined future, which makes the most of an ethnically diverse Britain. It is this vision that drives and motivates us.

Looking forward then, this article highlights some of our priorities for 2021-2022. It’s going to be another busy year!

We plan to continue to grow a vibrant BFELG membership, a community of belonging, through establishment of new special interest groups to meet the needs of our members in the schools sector and the public sector; Professional career development and support opportunities for all our members include mentoring, coaching, masterclasses and Ofsted inspection shadowing as we seek to maintain and grow the pipeline into leadership; Our Black Voices Lived Experience project involving a range of stakeholders including students is planned to roll out this year.

Sustainability of the BFELG as an organisation is a key driver and a challenge. We will secure its future to continue the work in the decades ahead.

Another priority is to serve each and every one of our growing number of Affiliated Organisations (AOs) by providing support for a tailored and relevant experience of the BFELG 10 Point Plan Diagnostic Toolkit that delivers the cultural change desired by the AO on their journey towards a culture of Anti-racism.

In this regard, we have started the task of customising the Toolkit for use by Higher Education institutions and we plan to pilot a version for use by academies and schools and other versions are planned to support access to affiliation for allied sector organisations whilst maintaining the integrity of the 10 Point Plan principles.

Our work in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland was highlighted in the Impact Report and is accelerating in 2021-2022 with Edinburgh College becoming, this September, the very first BFELG Affiliated Organisation in Scotland.

In Northern Ireland, the collaborative model that has been adopted by a group of colleges in their approach to working with the BFELG, is unique and exciting. And in Wales, with the two largest colleges Coleg Gwent and Cardiff and Vale College as BFELG AOs, and the Welsh Government’s consultation on actions to create a proudly Anti-Racist Wales, it’s a case of watch this space for #AntiRacismInAction!

In England, our new focus this year is regional, initially prioritising the West Midlands, West Yorkshire, Liverpool City Region and London.

Having entered into partnership agreements with ColegauCymru today (October 1) and the AoC , having initiated and worked with the leading Recruitment practices in the FE sector to develop and publish the truly ground-breaking statement of commitment to ‘Ensure Anti-racist and Diverse Recruitment Practices in the FE sector’, BFELG’s plans encompass fully playing our part to achieve the meaningful and measurable targets and objectives expressed in these agreements and commitments.

We are working in partnership with CDN Scotland and joint actions are being planned.

In 2020-2021, Sir Ken Olisa OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, and Dan Brown, Founder and CEO of Positive Transformation Group, brought together a small group of business leaders to create cross-industry sector support for the message of Anti- racism in the business community throughout the UK and to work alongside Education to support the BFELG’s mission. Our plans will gather pace in the coming months.

Thought Leadership is a very important strand of our work and building on the success of last year, our programme for 2021-2022 is includes conferences, seminars, workshops and follow-up activities arising from our BFELG / ETF Symposium held last May.

We are delighted to introduce, as a key plank of the programme, BFELG Livestreams #AntiRacismInAction – Making the Most of an Ethnically Diverse Britain co-produced with FE News.

Season 1 comprises of 9 Episodes. Airing weekly on FE News at 09.30 on Mondays, each 30 minute episode will have a different focus showcasing Anti-racism in action and exploring how diverse groups in the education sector and beyond, across the UK can get involved.

The episodes will be co-anchored by Gavin O’Meara (CEO and Head of Digital, FE News), and a member of the BFELG and will feature Guests including influencers, provocateurs and a diverse range of stakeholders from the world of education and the communities it serves.

Each Livestream will be introduced by a public figure and influencer. The Launch episode will air on FE News on Monday 4 October at 09.30.

In our conversations, the BFELG Executive often say that ‘Anti-racism is a verb’. Everyone knows that ‘anti-racism’ is really a noun, after all the Oxford English dictionary says so! But to us Anti-racism is a ‘doing’ word – it’s about #AntiRacismInAction.

Jeremy Helliger – writer and editor, explains it so well: ‘The difference between being non-racist and being anti-racist is like the difference between burning calories while you sleep and burning them at the gym. Non-racist is strictly an adjective and it suggests a sort of inert neutrality – being without doing. Anti-racism, meanwhile, is a noun that functions like a verb. It’s not passive; it’s active.

Amnesty International UK puts it this way : ‘Anti-racism is an active process – not a single event or a checklist of actions – to identify, challenge, and change the values, structures, and behaviours that perpetuate systemic racism wherever they are found.

Do join us in this work. We welcome individual, organisational, regional, national and global alliances and allyships.

#AntiRacismInAction is the rising tide that lifts us all, that makes the most of an ethnically diverse Britain and ultimately makes a significant contribution to our world.

Stella Ngozi Mbubaegbu CBE, BFELG Executive Team Member

*‘Black’ is an inclusive definition for people from ethnically diverse backgrounds who share a lived experience of the effects of racism.

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