From education to employment

#AntiRacismInAction: Schools | S2 Ep4

By the BFELG: #AntiRacismInAction: Schools with Dame Lorna Boreland-Kelly, CEO and Managing Partner, Bokell Associates, Patrick Cozier, Headteacher, Highgate Wood School, Haringey, Funmi Alder, Headteacher, Bearwood Primary School, Wokingham, and Josephine Okokon, Headteacher, St Martin-in-the-Fields High School for Girls, Lambeth

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

Season 2 Episode 4 of 7 BFELG Livestreams #AntiRacismInAction – Making the Most of an Ethnically Diverse Britain, aired today, 23 February. The Episode was co-produced by BFELG and FE News and co-anchored by Gavin O’Meara, CEO and Head of Digital, FE News, and Robin Landman OBE, BFELG Director.

Episode 4 #AntiRacismInAction: Schools  is the latest in a number of BFELG Livestreams with a focus on education. Season 1 of the series included several episodes focusing on the further education  and higher education sectors. Today’s livestream focusing on the schools/academies sector was introduced by Dame Lorna Boreland-Kelly. Speaking as a mother, grandmother and public servant with many years of experience across the education, social care and health sectors, Dame Lorna shared her thoughts on #AntiRacismInAction. For her, this means a society where children in the UK and beyond have access to services without fear of rejection based on the colour of their skin and are fully accepted on merit and deeds.

Education should play a leading role in developing an Anti-racist society for the benefit of everyone.  In this regard, all communities should be able to see all of society genuinely reflected in the classroom, curriculum and the workforce.  The BFELG Keynote presentation, ‘Making the most of an ethnically diverse Britain’ highlights research which shows that just under 50% of all schools in England have no Black teacher,  white students who have even one Black teacher hold Black people in greater esteem as a result, and 50% of young Black people believe that teachers’ perceptions of them are one of the biggest barriers to their achievement in school.  95% of young black people hear racist language or witness racism at school.

When it comes to the workforce, there is an inverse relationship between the number of teachers, senior leaders, governors and the profile of pupils. Recent Guardian articles (School governors in England to be offered  ant-racism training and ‘There is absolutely systemic racism’: BAME headteachers share their views)  reveal the extent of the problem in the schools sector. This includes the low numbers of *Black people in relation to senior leadership and governance: only 4% of school governors  and 7.3% of headteachers in state-funded schools in England come from  a *Black background compared with 21% of the working-age population. The position is not dissimilar to that of the workforce and governance in FE colleges and HE institutions across the UK. Whilst 14.3% of teachers in state funded schools are *Black, there is no clear picture of racial equality in England’s teaching workforce in terms of recruitment, retention and pipeline.

The National Governance Association(NGA) and Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) have recently partnered to offer free Anti-racism training to school governors.

Today’s guests Funmi Adler, Patrick Cozier and Josephine Okokon  are experienced and successful *Black Headteachers. As educational and community leaders and drawing on their own personal journeys, they were well placed to explore the issues. They shared their insights into the unique opportunities and challenges for the schools sector in respect of ethnic diversity, including how to harness cross-phase and cross-sector commitment to Anti-racism.

Funmi Adler qualified as a primary school teacher in the mid-1990s, with most of her career in London schools.  She came into the profession to make a difference, absolutely committed to the belief that every child has the right to attain as high as they possibly can, and it is the job of schools to enable that to happen.  Funmi progressed through school leadership as SENCO, Inclusion Leader, Deputy Headteacher, Head of School and Headteacher.  She completed the MBA in Educational Leadership International, which gave her an opportunity to look at successful school systems internationally, and how they have ensured narrow gaps in attainment between different socio-economic groups.  She has now relocated from London to Reading, and is proud headteacher of Bearwood Primary School in Wokingham.

Patrick Cozier is a successful and experienced secondary school leader. He has been a Headteacher of Highgate Wood School, Enfield, a large comprehensive school (over 1500 students) for the last 15 years. He has also been the chair of the Haringey Secondary Heads Forum for the last 8 years. In the last three years he has sat on the BAME Achieving Steering Committee as part of the Haringey Education Partnership and led the most recent and successful conference. In addition to being a trustee of Show Racism the Red Card, he has also recently been appointed as a trustee of Horizons which is the charitable arm of the Haringey Education Partnership. As an educationalist he is committed to doing everything that he can to support our young people to thrive and become the best adults they can be. As a member of the black community he is passionate about seeking equality, justice and fair outcomes for people of colour.

Josephine Okokon

With extensive experience in senior leadership at multicultural London schools including in Lambeth, Greenwich, Croydon and Sutton, Josephine has held a number of senior roles including Associate Headteacher, Head of School, Deputy Headteacher and Assistant Headteacher. She holds a Masters Degree in Education Leadership, drawing upon best practice of school leadership from around the world. Much of her leadership focus has been on stimulating rapid change and improvement in schools by strategically leading teams to secure better outcomes for students. By developing strong community links to ensure schools thrive, she has developed a range of effective transition programmes for students moving from primary to secondary and has actively engaged in initiatives for primary and secondary teachers to work collaboratively. Josephine has significant experience of governance, as a Trustee of a multi academy trust and previous roles as staff governor  and co-opted Governor. This includes conversions to academy status, Diocesan governance and supporting Interim Executive Boards.

Watch Episode 4 for the full discussion and to hear the guests and co-hosts Robin Landman and Gavin O’Meara share their dream scenarios for #AntiRacismInAction: Schools.

Stella Ngozi Mbubaegbu CBE

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