Coaching & Leadership Development
Becoming an Anti-Racist School – A Governor’s Story

Becoming an Anti-Racist School – A Governor’s Story

This story comes from Chair of Governors of Ursuline High School, Claire Thorogood   Like many people, I felt a mix of horror and outrage at the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. But this time, it didn’t feel enough.   It really brought home to me and to many, that racism isn’t just an issue in the States, systemic racism is alive and well and thriving in the UK. I think previously the UK has always let itself off the hook by being like, “well, we’re not as racist as America, we’re a multicultural society” but the events of last year showed that racism is part and parcel of the lived experience of people of colour here.   Particularly, as I’m also a chair of governors of a large girls’ comprehensive school with large number of students of colour, the personal impact, and the extra weight of responsibility I felt was striking. It made me realise that if this has impacted so much on me as a white person, then what are the students of colour in our school feeling? If I feel that horror and outrage, what must they be feeling?’   As a school, it made us realise that we could no longer pretend that racism happens out there, but not within our school gates.   Taking a Stand   So, like other schools across the country, we decided to undertake wholesale work to try and address these issues on racial justice in our own context. As part of this, there was a review of the curriculum, uniforms, staff training and policies amongst other things....
“It Starts with You” – How to Tackle Racism in Schools

“It Starts with You” – How to Tackle Racism in Schools

  This Headteacher story comes from Headteacher of Frensham Heights School, Rick Clarke   Like most schools and organisations across the UK and beyond, myself and our school community were very much affected George Floyd’s death in 2020, the resulting Black Lives Matter movement and the whole worldwide condemnation of the events that took place.   Like many schools, the events led us to re-examine what was happening in society, what we were doing, and how we were relating to each other.   As a school, we’d always said that we absolutely don’t tolerate racism and I’d like to think that openness and transparency and generosity, are in many ways some of the defining features of our school. Yet demographically, as a school, we are overwhelmingly white, we only have a handful of students of colour and just one staff member who’s mixed race.   Looking back now, I would say we probably also hadn’t always approached race, in the most honest way, despite of our culture of openness.   But after George Floyd’s death, when the discussion about how organisations should respond become more pronounced that changed. We almost immediately started having a lot of conversations, engaging with our students and with our parents about these issues, who asked us a number of questions such as:   How’s the school going to respond? What are you going to do about this? What’s your position on race? How we began to chart a way forward   There were some calls for us to examine what we teach and why. In particular, there was a very conflicted debate around some...
Bold Conversations about Race in Schools

Bold Conversations about Race in Schools

  This blog comes from Vice Principal and Co Founder of Mindful Equity, Aretha Banton (@Reah_banton) I don’t want to be positioned as the angry Black girl in the corner, who when she tells her truth is isolated, unheard and ignored. But, when we have discussions about race and equality with our colleagues, this is too often the reality. So, what do we do? We stop speaking, we conform and we accept the unacceptable in the hope that one day, we will make it to a level where we can influence change. Our compromise… our pact… is silence. I recently came across this tweet: ‘Calling white educators! Check out the links below… Learn something new about BAME and education. #BlackLivesMatter’. This got me thinking. Why did my fellow educators need a tweet to call them to action? Why didn’t they speak to me when they passed me in the hallway? Why didn’t they speak to me when we had lunch in the canteen or a drink in the pub? Why didn’t they speak to me when we were planning the curriculum? Why did the tweeter assume that Black educators somehow have an innate knowledge of Black history and therefore do not need to learn more? Why are we so scared of speaking to each other about race? Bold Conversations about Race Silence is a major issue. The ability to speak openly and freely is heavily tainted with fear and judgement. In order to really move forwards we need to ensure that our schools are safe places — safe for students, safe for staff, safe for governors, safe for parents. It takes a lot...
Talking about Race – Letters from a Former Student

Talking about Race – Letters from a Former Student

This blog comes from NLE and Headteacher of Brookside Academy, Brian Walton (@Oldprimaryhead1) I sit at my school desk reading an email from a former student… I am writing to you today, following the recent death of George Floyd, an African American man who was murdered at the hands of a white police officer in Minnesota on the 25th of May 2020. For the first time in my existence, I have found a confidence within me to address the distressing issues that I have felt, and am still feeling as a person of colour, due to the triggering exposure that George Floyd’s death has created within the media.   I pause… wondering where this letter will take me, immediately feeling out of my depth. Though I have had a blessed career working in diverse communities such as Brick Lane in Tower Hamlets and Easton in Central Bristol and I have been a trustee for charities such as Think Global and Young Citizens which schooled me through first hand experience in fighting for justice and advocacy… I realise I am not comfortable discussing race with people of colour. It is not something I do… ever. What I do not realise, as I begin reading these emails, is what a profound impact having this conversation would have on me. When it came to my race, I was unsure as to who I could turn to when I was upset at school. All my friends were white, all my teachers were white, all my dinner ladies were white, so as a child, I felt my racial experiences couldn’t be discussed on a...
10 Qualities of Successful School Leaders

10 Qualities of Successful School Leaders

    This blog comes from Academic Director at the University of San Diego, Joseph Lathan, PHD.   Educational leaders play a pivotal role in affecting the climate, attitude and reputation of their schools. They are the cornerstone on which learning communities function and grow. With successful school leadership, schools become effective incubators of learning, places where students are not only educated but challenged, nurtured and encouraged.   On the other hand, poor or absent school leadership can undermine the goals of an educational system. When schools lack a strong foundation and direction, learning is compromised, and students suffer. According to a Wallace Foundation study, “Leadership is second only to classroom instruction as an influence on student learning.”   But what makes a successful school leader? How do you become truly effective as a Headteacher or in a leadership position? While there is no one solution to successful school leadership, there are certain strategies, skills, traits and beliefs that many of the most effective school leaders share.   I believe the following traits are common among the most successful school leaders…   1. They Understand the Importance of Building Community   Effective school leaders build and sustain reciprocal family and community partnerships and leverage those partnerships to cultivate inclusive, caring and culturally responsive school communities. To build these community networks it is essential that school leaders are visible in their schools and community, develop trust and create a sense of transparency and shared purpose with parents, staff, community members and students.   Megan Tschannen-Moran, author and professor of educational leadership at the College of William and Mary, discusses the importance that trust plays...