Coaching & Leadership Development
3 Ways to Better Tackle Racism in Schools

3 Ways to Better Tackle Racism in Schools

I recently wrote an article for the TES to mark the 12 month anniversary of the death of George Floyd. If you’d read my original article on the TES website, please click here   After George Floyd was murdered on 25 May 2020, a colleague said to me that their “mind was full and their heart heavy”. I felt the same. Throughout my teaching career, I have witnessed myriad manifestations of racism and a plethora of race equality and social justice initiatives.   Yet, despite the good intentions behind these, the single narrative of colonialism and empire still dominated our classrooms, along with deficit models for addressing the underachievement of pupils from racially marginalised groups. But over the past 12 months, I have felt a growing sense of hope.   I’ve seen that when attempts were made to silence those talking about the institutionalised racism here in the UK, people refused to acquiesce. Collective voices for social justice, equality and equity have continued to speak truth to power.   And I am hopeful because, after 30-plus years in education, things feel different. Schools that I have engaged with as part of our Race, Identity and School Leadership Programme are now recognising that new race equality narratives cannot be written overnight.   They are recognising that becoming anti-racist is a lifelong commitment, one that has as much to do with decolonising their own minds as it has to do with decolonising the curriculum.   The legacy of George Floyd: the need to tackle racism in schools   This gives me hope for the future. At long last, teachers and school leaders are beginning to see that, within...
How does Coaching support School Improvement?

How does Coaching support School Improvement?

This blog comes from our associate coach, organisational expert and former school governor, Ben Gibbs. ‘The fallacy of rationalism is the assumption that the social world can be altered by logical argument. The problem, as George Bernard Shaw observed, is that “reformers have the idea that change can be achieved by brute sanity”.’ Michael Fullan (1991)   One of coaching’s greatest achievements over the last 30 years is to have moved the focus of leadership development from an over-emphasis on decision-making and rational authority, towards a model which prioritises understanding and empathy; from IQ to EQ (emotional intelligence), if you like.   Arguably, one of coaching’s greatest strengths is its focus on the individual and the development of their personal and professional capacity; it’s ability to provide a space in which the soul can emerge as a guide to practice.   It is possible as a coach, however, to go further than this, and to have an impact beyond the individual. Coaching can be used as a form of organisational consultancy; of school improvement.   Present challenges   The challenges faced by all organisations – including schools – which operate in contexts defined by the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of the 21st century, cannot be addressed by heroic individual leaders.   In fact, the speed of technological, environmental, economic and organisational change makes a mockery of the very idea of the heroic leader; that lone ranger, setting an example through individual endeavour and inspiring followership through sheer force of personality (backed by the threat of the pistol in his holster!).   Leadership is now a collective act which requires...
What does it mean to be an Anti-Racist Teacher?

What does it mean to be an Anti-Racist Teacher?

This blog comes from the principal of Mission High School in San Francisco, Pirette McKamey.   Ask black students who their favourite teacher is, and they will joyfully tell you.  Ask them what it is about their favourite teacher, and most will say some version of this: “They know how to work with me”. So much is in that statement.   It means that these students want to work, that they see their teachers as partners in the learning process, and that they know the teacher-student relationship is one in which they both have power. In other words, black students know that they bring intellect to the classroom, and they know when they are seen.   As the principal of San Francisco’s Mission High School and an anti-racist educator for more than 30 years, I have witnessed countless black students thrive in classrooms where teachers see them accurately and show that they are happy to have them there.   In these classes, students choose to sit in the front of the class, take careful notes, shoot their hands up in discussions, and ask unexpected questions that cause the teacher and other classmates to stop and think. Given the chance, they email, text, and call the teachers who believe in them. In short, these students are everything their families and community members have raised and supported them to be.   I have seen some of these very same students walk into another teacher’s classroom, go to the last row of desks, and put their head down. I have seen them sit frozen in their seat, staring at an assignment—when earlier I...
4 Ways to Tackle Racism in Schools

4 Ways to Tackle Racism in Schools

  This blog comes from education content writer at Twinkl, Kerry Griffiths.    Teachers and school leaders are in the uniquely privileged position of standing alongside their young learners as they start to navigate the world and understand the way that different human relationships work in wider society.   Unfortunately, in many countries and cultures across the world, racism is still prevalent and the effects of this discrimination upon students is grave.   However, educators are uniquely placed to affect positive change around racism with their work with pupils, and this change has a ripple effect through the rest of society.   To do this, teachers and school leaders must first acknowledge that imbalance exists – both in the classroom and in society as a whole. Now this is not easy as talking about racism in the classroom can be difficult, but discrimination must be named and acknowledged before it can be addressed.   Teachers and school leaders must also engage with these challenging discussions if our schools are able to create learning environments where Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students feel safe and all pupils are equally supported to thrive.   With this in mind, what can we do as educators to dismantle these barriers to learning and success and begin to tackle racism in our schools?   1. Recognise and Challenge Your Own Unconscious Bias   Through our lived experiences, each person develops internal biases that, when left unexamined, can become troublesome. These are often unconscious, so the person hasn’t made a decision to think this way, but unless these biases are dismantled they can lead to inadvertent unfair treatment of...
Race Equality in Schools – 4 Things Heads Must Learn

Race Equality in Schools – 4 Things Heads Must Learn

  This blog comes from former teacher, Governor, MAT Trustee and Founding Member of BameEd, Penny Rabiger   On paper, schools have had a duty to ensure that they are places which are safe, happy and equitable for all staff, children and their families.   We know that in reality, this is much harder to achieve than could have been imagined when we signed up for the job as teachers and leaders.   When it comes to race, schools may have been busy with bureaucracy around racial incidents, but it seems like recent events have made many school leaders realise how deeply entrenched structural or systemic racism is in our institutions, and the real impact this has on people of colour, their life chances, access to opportunity, wellbeing, physical and mental health.   The start towards becoming an anti-racist school leader is the understanding that racism isn’t just situated in name-calling or focused attacks on individuals, but is more likely to take place in subtle and insidious ways that are the result of our implicit, inherent, learned, or as it is most commonly known, ‘unconscious’ bias.   We know that schools are microcosms of society, and schools are charged with fixing all of society’s ills. And recently, we have realised that society is very ill indeed. In short, racism is ‘in’ all of us and it resides in almost every aspect of life.   That might sound depressing but the first step to educating oneself as a leader, is to acknowledge that we all have a problem, and to understand that we all have a responsibility to be part...
Wholeness & School Leadership: Why Race and Identity Matter

Wholeness & School Leadership: Why Race and Identity Matter

  It is my belief that good school leadership has at its heart a desire for wholeness. It is a wholeness which individuals seek to see manifested through a harmonious interplay of their deepest values and beliefs, by fostering right relationships with themselves and others.   Recent events sparked by the death of George Floyd have clearly illustrated that we live in a society that is far from whole. Fault lines run through the lives of individuals and organisations, teachers and school leaders, families and their children.   We have seen how people have come together to try and repair the damage but there can be no papering over the cracks. For the dream of racial equality to be real, complete healing and transformation is needed.   A gradual dawning   I have witnessed over the past few weeks, that there has been a gradual dawning for many white school leaders of what is being asked of them. This has been a significant paradigm shift. There has been a gradual awakening of the need to review and re-shape white identity in order to accelerate the change that the black community have cried out for.   I recognise and understand that this is unfamiliar  territory and can be scary for many. Never before in the UK has the debate on race equality in our schools shifted its gaze so steadfastly onto white identity and race. For as long as I can remember, it has been the other way around. Race equality work has predominately focused on the black experience of racism and strategies for enabling the black community to overcome...