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Gillian Keegan pledges to eliminate racism and to address racial inequalities in FE

Gillian Keegan, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills
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#BlackHistoryMonth – Black @FELeadership Group (BFELG) welcomes the Department of Education (@EducationGovUK) and @GillianKeegan’s response to its recent Open Letter to Address Systemic Racism in Further Education.

Through her letter, dated 25th September, the Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP (Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills) provides a clear endorsement of the core messages contained in BFELG’s recent call to action, and we welcome her pledge “to eliminate racism and to address racial inequalities in our Further Education sector”.

The Minister’s commitment to ensure an inclusive FE system focused on addressing disadvantage, levelling up and getting individuals into high quality jobs is particularly significant. Acknowledging this, she directly refers to key issues presented through our Open Letter, including the need to reflect Black History in the curriculum, capture a robust picture of the ethnic makeup of the FE workforce and strengthen black representation at senior levels and in governance.

The Minister also recognises BFELG’s representative role for black leaders and professionals, and their allies, in the UK FE sector. We now have approaching 200 members comprising current senior governors and leaders, middle leaders and practitioners, and a wide range of professionals who have an interest in the FE sector.

BFELG fully concurs with the Minister’s ambition for an FE system that is inclusive and welcoming for students, teachers, and leaders irrespective of their background. We share her determination to ensure fair access, realise individual potential, and ensure no communities are left behind.

We also welcome the government’s commitment of significant additional investment into the sector to upskill the nation and FE estates to ensure the success of current and future skills policy and practice.

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At the same time, we believe that employers should be required to ensure equity of access to high-quality apprenticeships, T Levels, and the emergingRight to Retrain’ entitlement through the National Skills Fund.

We remain concerned about the lack of recognition of the need to review all post 16 curricula and qualifications to ensure that they reflect the importance of colonial history and its influence on society, and the contributions of black people to the arts, sciences, and technology.

We continue to shine a light on disparities in student attainment and progression. We also are anxious that the proposed mandatory FE workforce return asks the right questions. It is critical that these issues are addressed now.

Given the widespread engagement with our ‘10 Point Plan’, underpinned by our deep insight into best ‘anti-racist’ practice and our substantial intellectual capital, the BFELG is ready and equipped to assist the Minister, working in partnership with sector organisations, to ensure an Anti-racist FE system.

The Black FE Leadership Group 10 Point Plan

Curriculum

  1. A radical revision of FE curricula and qualifications to reflect contemporary British values, incorporating the importance of colonial history and its influence on society, historically and now; the impact of racism on black and white communities; the contributions made by black people to society.

Climate

  1. College recruitment processes, including the deployment of recruitment companies, to proactively address imbalances in the diversity of leadership at all levels.
  1. Ofsted and other quality assurance bodies to evaluate the effectiveness of pedagogy and curriculum practice in promoting race equality, alongside strategies to address attainment gaps through college inspections reports and their own annual reports.

Culture

  1. All teacher training, professional development and leadership programmes to include, as a central component, the consideration of racial equality; and for teacher training, the inclusion of anti-racist pedagogy.
  2. All Colleges to annually publish student performance, staff and governor profile data by ethnicity, including actions to address identified gaps.
  1. The FE Commissioner’s annual report, diagnostic assessments and structural reviews to include data on BAME leaders, managers and governors against the profile of college student populations and local demographics.
  1. FE regulatory bodies, development organisations and unions to collaborate with colleges to design and implement a common framework to share best practice in the advancement of racial literacy and justice across all modes of learning.
  1. All regulatory bodies, funders and membership groups to publish workforce, leadership and governance profile data by ethnicity, including actions to address gaps.
  1. All sectoral committees, boards or advisory groups established to address racism and inequalities to be led by and made up of those with real insight of these issues, or expertise in these areas.

Communications

  1. All organisations with an investment in FE (whether statutory, regulatory, representative or commercial) to ensure fair and positive treatment of BAME students, staff and communities, in terms of optics, content and impact.

The Black FE Leadership Group

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