By Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT Deputy General Secretary
Last week’s Racial Disparity Audit depressingly confirms what many of us know - namely that racial disadvantage and discrimination is widespread within our school system.
The problem remains of concern 30 years after the seminal report on racial inequality in schools – Education for All – was penned by Lord Swann.
There has in recent years been more focus on pupil performance by background and that is indeed welcome. The report builds on research which had already shown that white British children were falling behind children from other backgrounds.
Some may argue that if BME children are outperforming white British children then this may suggest there is no problem with racism holding those with BME backgrounds back from attending university.
But we would say this would be wrong.
We also know that children from BME backgrounds are at least three times more likely to be excluded from school and while today’s findings cannot be ignored, it appears the reality still for many BME pupils is they lag behind their white peers.
And what about BME teachers? We know like all teachers they have the burning passion and commitment to bring out the very best in the children and young people they teach.
But there is a widespread inequality of treatment.
Research by the NASUWT among its members has found that;

  • 77% of BME teachers do not believe that they are paid at a level commensurate with their skills and experiences, compared to 66% of all teachers;
  • 58% of BME teachers have experienced verbal abuse by pupils compared to 49% of all teachers.
  • 52% of BME teachers do not feel that their work is valued by the school management compared to 39% of all teachers.
  • 64% of BME teachers felt their opinions are not valued by school management compared to 53% of all teachers.

And, we know that the inequality of treatment inside schools is impacting on the wellbeing of BME teachers outside of school with 53% of BME teachers saying the job has affected their physical health in the last 12 months.
These experiences of inequality were underlined in separate research by our union and the Runnymede Trust which highlighted that BME teachers continue to experience discrimination and harassment as well as greater barriers to pay progression and career progression.
For the education system to be truly equitable, discrimination has to be challenged and rooted out wherever it’s found – throughout the institutions and those that play a part in education our children as well as with regard to the children themselves.
We are dismayed that teachers from BME backgrounds experience everyday racism, discrimination, harassment, lack of pay progression and being held back from promotion to senior management posts and headship. We believe these issues remain deep-rooted, endemic and institutionalised.

What happens in schools is often reflected in the fabric of wider society and BME communities too often say they feel marginalised, excluded and discriminated against. 

Government reforms since 2010, which have meant greater freedoms and flexibilities for schools in terms of how they employ and reward staff, and in terms of key decisions about the curriculum they offer to pupils, has exacerbated racial inequality. These reforms have also undermined the ability of the system as a whole to take strategic action to secure progress.

The Government has to take its share of responsibility by ensuring that all schools meet minimum standards for ensuring racial equality. Regrettably, there has been a culture of defensiveness and denial when the Government has been challenged about its record on racial equality in the education sector. That has to stop. 

Ministers must ensure that they use all available levers at their disposal to ensure that all schools meet basic racial equality requirements for pupils and for the workforce.  

That is why the NASUWT – The Teachers Union, is leading a pro-active campaign, Act for Racial Justice. Working with all stakeholders, we are determined to challenge racism wherever it exists.


The UN Refugee Agency has created a platform pulling together teaching resources in different european languages in order to support teachers and education personnel that are keen to address refugee-related topics with their students.

The portal collects good practices, games, lesson plans, movies, book suggestions, etc.:

  • Passages - An awareness game putting players through the experience of refugees.
  • Balloon Game - A short and fun game to raise awareness of the problems refugees must juggle with in a new land.
  • Against All Odds - An on-line game putting the player through the experience of fleeing a country and making a dangerous journey to safety.
  • Seeking Safety package - A complete lesson plan by Amnesty International with eight activities explaining basic concepts like refugee, IDP, asylum seeker.
  • Seeking Refuge is a BBC series of short animated films of children telling the story of how they fled their countries and came to the UK.
  • My Dreams for the Future is a downloadable book based around the drawings and stories of Congolese refugee children in Burundi by UNHCR.
  • Life on Hold is an interactive web documentary on refugees in Lebanon by news network Al Jazeera.

To discover more examples of lesson plans, learning activities and awareness-raising Tools, you can visit 

Credits: Province of British Columbia (via flickr)

The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) and the Association canadienne d’éducation de langue française (ACELF) launched the second edition of “Voir grand ensemble” at the ACELF Conference in Calgary, Alberta, September 28-30, 2017.

“This booklet is intended for the entire school community within the context of its cultural diversity, especially teens, parents of immigrant families and teachers in French-language schools”, says CTF President H. Mark Ramsankar.

“Francophone communities in provinces and territories where French is the language of the minority are increasingly hopeful that immigration will counter population decline. These newcomer families are now part of the Canadian Francophonie and we want to do everything we can to help them feel they belong,” adds the President.

The guide proposes 14 different stories and testimonies aiming to provoke discussions on cultural identities and diversity in the frame of awareness raising activities with students, teacher training programmes or even, school-based integration initiatives with newly arrived families.

Printed copies of the guide can be ordered through the CTF Publications Catalogue.

An toolkit accompanying the publication can be downloaded here.

The 2016-2017 school year is getting to its term and with it, the activities planned within the project called "The weight of my backpack" are being developed successfully in the two educational centers of the neighborhood of La Salud in Badalona. The objective of FECCOO is to develop a series of activities aimed at creating optimal school environments that are conducive to the integration of all children and accommodate all migrants, displaced persons and refugees.

For example, the workshop on linguistic competences and on developing reading skills led to a story-telling one-day marathon, held at the CEIP Josep Carner during which children’s mothers were invited to take part by sharing experiences and stories from around the world in their mother tongue: Arabic, Russian, Urdu, Portuguese, Chinese, ...etc.

Throughout the project, all students had access to illustrated albums dealing with themes related to refuge, war, travel, exile and arrival, which has been crucial to help them reflect on these themes and share their emotions and feelings.

In parallel, work is continuing with the Teachers' Resource Center of the Generalitat de Catalunya, to offer teachers from all educational centers of the municipality the course "Schools: a welcome place, Books: a refuge to live in" that is mobilizing hundreds of students and teachers.

According to the report “A Deadly Journey for Children: The Central Mediterranean Migration Route”, as of September 2016, 256,000 migrants had been identified in Libya.  11% were women and 9% were children. The “Central Mediterranean Migration Route”  is one of the most dangerous journeys children can take when seeking refuge, travelling through Libya being one of the most difficult parts of it. Nevertheless, in 2016, more than 25,800 unaccompanied children took this route to be smuggled to Italy (p.3). 

With this study, UNICEF sampled 122 participants which consisted of 82 women and 40 children. Three quarters of the children interviewed experienced some type of violence by adults, almost half of the women interviewed reported sexual violence, most children and women said that they had to rely on the smugglers which made them vulnerable to abuse, abduction, and trafficking. Also, most of the children reported some type of abuse. Many children did not have access to adequate food during their journey. Women held in detention centers in Libya reported harsh conditions and most of the women and children said they spent more time in Libya to pay off their smugglers’ debt. 

The report also puts together stories of different migrants’ journeys to Libya. One of them came from a man named Timothee, who discusses the hardships he and his family had to go through: “Prior to the outbreak of the armed conflict and insecurity in the country, the two girls and the boy were enrolled in primary school and were enjoying their education with their schoolmates and teachers. The events that unfolded forced the whole family to change their plans. Suddenly, the children found themselves out of school and running for their lives with their parents. The children did not have access to education during the escape causing them to miss several years of schooling” (p. 11).  Timothee’s story shows how taking this type of journey puts everyone’s lives on pause. As a consequence, children are now behind in school and “deprived of their right to an education”. 

The report also tells the story of Kamis and Aza who are in detention in Libya. They came from Nigeria hoping for a better life but only found hardship. Kamis had aspirations to become a doctor, however, this was not possible with their lives back in Nigeria. Aza, Kamis’ mother, said: “Don’t worry. When we reach Italy, you will be a doctor” (p.9).  Anyone who makes this journey is looking for better perspectives but being put in detention in Libya acts as a roadblock to the place of opportunity.  Once again, Kamis is deprived of the right to an education.

UNICEF provides several policy recommendations concerning the Central Mediterranean Crisis, that not only applies to Libya, but also to neighboring countries, the African Union, the European Union, and international and national organizations. One of the six policy asks concerning uprooted children outlined in the report is to “Keep all refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to health and other quality services. An increased collective effort by governments, communities and the private sector is needed to provide education, health, shelter, nutrition, water and sanitation, and access to legal and psychosocial support for these children. A child’s migration status should never be a barrier to accessing essential services” (p.16).