Women and Equalities Committee and Petitions Committee
Oral evidence: Black history and cultural diversity in the curriculum, HC 893
Wednesday 18 November 2020
Ordered by the House of Commons to be published on 18 November 2020.
Members present: Caroline Nokes (Chair); Elliot Colburn; Angela Crawley; Chris Evans; Peter Gibson; Kim Johnson; Catherine McKinnell; Kate Osborne; Bell Ribeiro‑Addy.
Education Committee member also present: Apsana Begum.
Panel 2 Questions 55 - 74
II: Allana Gay, Co-founder, BAMEed Network; Caroline Wright, Director-General, British Educational Suppliers Association; Dr Christine Callender, Associate Professor, UCL Institute of Education; Emily Miller, Head of Learning, Migration Museum.
Examination of witnesses
Q55 Chair: I would like to welcome to you to the second evidence session this afternoon of a joint inquiry between the Women and Equalities Select Committee and the Petitions Committee, with a guest from the Education Select Committee. We are welcoming, for our second panel, Dr Christine Callender, Allana Gay, Emily Miller and Caroline Wright. I would like to start off with the first question for this panel, which is to ask you to introduce yourselves and say a few words about why your work is relevant to the issues we are looking at this afternoon.
Dr Callender: Hello, everyone. I have been a teacher educator now for some 25 years, so I am in a fortunate enough position to have seen various iterations of the curriculum over time. In my work, I focus on areas of equity and inclusion. My research in particular looks at the experiences of black and minority ethnic beginner and early-career teachers. It considers the leadership pipeline and the experience of aspirant leaders, and how teacher educators and people like me understand and practise the issue of racial equality and what that means for us in teacher education. I am very fortunate to have the privilege to work with our trainee teachers on these issues as well.
Allana Gay: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Allana Gay. I am the head teacher at Vita et Pax School, as well as a co‑founder of a grassroots organisation called BAMEed. My interest here comes because of my experience within the education sector, having worked within the maintained sector and now within the independent sector, as well as the work that we did in co‑founding BAMEed, a grassroots organisation focused on creating an education sector that is reflective of our society. We work in all areas of race and education, including providing support for teachers and leaders, as well as signposting and hosting resources so that teachers can have a better experience of putting diversity, inclusion and equity into the curriculum.
Emily Miller: I am Emily Miller. I am the head of learning and partnerships at the Migration Museum. We are establishing a national migration museum for the UK, looking at the long history of immigration to the UK and emigration from the UK. Our education programme works with thousands of pupils and teachers on these themes. We also contribute to the national picture through linking up with the work that museums are doing on migration themes across the UK, in many of the constituencies that MPs are representing today, so it is a pleasure to be on this call. Thank you for inviting me.
Caroline Wright: Good afternoon. I am Caroline Wright. I am director general of the British Educational Suppliers Association. That is the trade association for manufacturers and producers of educational resources and supplies. They cover everything from educational furniture and science equipment all the way through to textbooks and digital content. Our educational publishers and curriculum providers have been having a series of discussions within their own organisations over recent months relating to the Black Lives Matter movement and carrying out their own reviews of the curriculum resources they produce.
They came to BESA earlier this year and asked if we could convene the educational publishers as a group to discuss in more detail issues of diversity and inclusion. As a result of that, we now have a working group looking at this issue. We are hoping to develop some curriculum diversity principles that, as an industry body, with our code of conduct, we could sign up to and introduce from spring next year.
Q56 Elliot Colburn: Allana, can I ask a similar question as we heard in the last panel about the national curriculum and the Government’s response to the petition, which has got us all together this afternoon to have this conversation? They say that the national curriculum already gives schools the flexibility to teach whatever they want when it comes to this, and they have the topics and resources that they need to do so. Would you agree that that is the case, or do you think that there need to be more mandated elements of the curriculum in order to achieve that?
Allana Gay: There is some flexibility within the national curriculum where schools can choose whether they would like to include diversity and inclusion, but the main issue, and the disappointing part of this from the DfE, is that it is allowing diversity and inclusion to become an ad hoc extension of education as opposed to an integral part that is intertwined into all parts of education. In doing so, it is allowing our students, whom we are growing for a global society, to come away with an education experience that disenfranchises them, belittles them or does not give them a fair and rounded view of society.
Therefore, in doing that, it does not allow the DfE, the curriculum or what we are doing in schools to fulfil our ultimate purpose, which is to grow the best global citizens that we can. Yes, we can do it ad hoc. It is left up to schools to decide that they want to, but that is not good enough for an institution that is meant to be guiding our future citizens.
Emily Miller: I agree with Allana totally. We are hearing a lot from the DfE that there is freedom at key stages 1, 2, 3 and upwards. That is just too much of an excuse not to put the work into resourcing, teacher training and options where these topics can be explored. These topics exist at GCSE et cetera, but, without them being promoted and there being a real push for that, just saying that there is freedom for this to happen does not go far enough.
Elliot Colburn: Christine, would you agree with Emily and Allana?
Dr Callender: Yes. There is flexibility in the curriculum, but, ultimately, it is a matter of choice, what teachers and schools feel comfortable delivering and what is within their frame of knowledge and experience. Obviously, you are going to go with what you are familiar with and what you are happy teaching, where you know you can do it well.
Caroline Wright: Academies are legally exempt from following the national curriculum. We now have a majority of secondary schools that are academies and a growing number of primary schools, so looking at the national curriculum in isolation is potentially a limiting approach that is unlikely to effect real change. There are other key factors—inspection and accountability, school budgets, procurement, CPD and training—that would probably, put together, effect a larger change than just focusing on the national curriculum itself.
Q57 Elliot Colburn: In the last panel, one of the things that came up was resourcing. Do you think schools and teachers have the clarity that they need about what resources might be appropriate or even available for them to use, especially in light of the recent debates that we have had about impartiality?
Allana Gay: When it comes to resourcing, there is a plethora of resources available. That has been made available mostly by grassroots organisations and by research entities. There are high-quality resources available. However, the priority for these resources goes with the priorities dictated by the DfE and examination boards, and the priorities dictated for schools within their monitoring. It is disappointing to hear some of the language that is coming out of the DfE, which demonstrates that there is no sound understanding of equity, diversity and inclusion.
In terms of the provision of resources, to an extent, they have created a fear culture where teachers are now not confident enough in the resources they are using and the sources they are going to for resources to teach this as part of the ongoing curriculum. At no part of teacher training, whether head teacher, early-career framework, initial teacher training or ongoing training, is there a focus on how we teach equity, diversity and inclusion for our current society and how we entwine it into our curriculum. It has never been a focus. It does not come out from exam boards or the DfE. It certainly does not come out from Ofsted in any part of its monitoring.
Therefore, asking teachers to now go and look for these resources for themselves, because it is a part that they can do, and to teach those resources to students on their own account without any training or benefit, especially if it does not become a priority of the school, academy trust or even the independent school system that they are working within, is an incredibly huge ask. The inaction comes from the fear of getting it wrong.
Emily Miller: I agree with what Allana was saying. Looking specifically at migration teaching resources, we have done quite a lot of work on that, as you can imagine, and we have a resource bank on our website where we signpost very time‑pushed teachers to resources from our partner organisations or other people and teachers who have put tougher great resources. There is a lot out there, a plethora, as Allana says. Some of it is great and some of it is not. It is important that we help to streamline and signpost teachers.
I want to use this opportunity, in talking about great resources, to promote Our Migration Story, which is an amazing piece of scholarship—the website put together by Runnymede with academics from across the UK in line with teachers’ needs. It is a great resource. It was a pleasure to be on the advisory committee for that. It just shows that an amazing thing can be put together like that, through thousands of hours of work on lots of people’s parts, but, unless the dissemination plan is there, it is really hard in our fragmented educational landscape to work out how best to disseminate a resource like that. That is probably something that Caroline has much more experience of than I do.
Dr Callender: I have been around long enough to remember MultiVerse, which existed prior to 2010. It was a resource focused on the issues of diversity, inclusion, equality and race. It was there for teacher educators, trainee teachers and practising teachers. We have a history of having a resource. That resource was monitored by people in teacher education, who reviewed all the resources that were submitted. I was on the editorial board of that, and it was very thorough. We have a history of having a portal for that kind of resourcing, but, as the other speakers have said, it is all rather fragmented at the moment. We need something more central—perhaps an organisation with a brief for these kinds of things, along the lines that Marlon mentioned earlier.
Caroline Wright: There are really good-quality resources out there, whether they are made by curriculum publishers, charitable organisations, expert organisations or museums. There are resources out there. I would like to draw attention, regardless of whether the resources are there or not, to the challenge schools face in obtaining them. When we look at the budgets available for resources in schools, we carry out a lot of research and surveys on schools annually, and our annual report in January of this year with responses from nearly 1,000 schools showed that, typically, primary schools have a budget of just over £1 million. Of that £1.1 million budget, they would typically spend £4,326 on books, printed resources and digital content. That is 0.4% of their budget. If you take that on a per pupil basis, that is just £10.30 for every pupil on books and printed resources each year. For secondary schools, it is £17 per pupil.
When you look at the challenges of what that has to cover, which is all curriculum subjects and not just history, geography and the topics we might be talking about today, that makes it a large challenge. Then you add to that the issues this year with covid and the LSE report we saw earlier in the year, which says that schools are going to need an additional £1,350 per pupil per month to make up on the potential lost learning. It makes it an almost insurmountable challenge for schools to provide the pupils with the resources they would like to.
Q58 Elliot Colburn: Caroline, have any of your members raised specific concerns about impartiality? We heard in the last panel about impartiality, particularly when it comes to the teaching of critical race theory, for example. Have any of your members expressed a view to you as an organisation?
Caroline Wright: They have not come to me with that view or that particular question. They have been more focused on, in a really responsible way, looking at what they are doing as organisations and the diversity within their own catalogues and printed resources. They are keen to address that issue and look at what we can do, as an industry, to influence positively with our curriculum resources.
Q59 Elliot Colburn: I will move on to teacher training now. You have all kind of answered this already, but perhaps we can go into a bit more detail about whether the initial teacher training encourages teachers to reflect critically on how content is taught. Does it make them feel confident in using diverse teaching practices and resources to engage all types of learners from diverse backgrounds?
Allana Gay: From what we can see in the teacher training standards as well as through initial teacher training, not much opportunity is put forward for diversity and inclusion to be a large part of the teacher training unless it is already part of the embedded culture of the school. We know very well that, across the vast majority of our schools, it is not a well‑embedded part of the culture. Teachers are being allowed to focus and, even within the new early career framework, the focus is on managing the behaviour, knowing the subject content and getting to know the school culture. There is no specific focus that asks, “If you are from a different culture, how are you going to use the cultural contribution that the other teachers around you have? How is that going to be embedded into the curriculum that you are teaching, the things that you will select to teach and the manner in which you will teach them?”
Similarly, when we look at recruitment of students for initial teacher training, there is no real evidence that there has been any change in the level of bias demonstrated in the students being selected for teacher training. We still have that stereotypical idea of what a teacher looks like. Once we put in those barriers to getting diverse teachers into the career in the first place, and then add further barriers for those who are in the career, preventing them and their colleagues teaching about diversity, equity and inclusion effectively, it just makes for a system that is going to struggle to change.
Emily Miller: I will keep my answer brief because I am not a specialist on this area. At the museum, we have worked with thousands of pupils and their teachers. The teachers who come to us often come to us for workshops and exhibition tours, et cetera, because they cite a lack of confidence in dealing with these potentially quite tense issues of migration, identity, racism and diversity. We create that safe space for them, but you have to imagine that those are teachers who come to us, who are self-aware about that lack of confidence and who have the capacity to organise trips and to get stuff done. There are thousands of teachers we are not seeing. That lack of confidence that I am aware of on a wider basis is what we are interested to do more for, as a museum.
Dr Callender: As someone who works in teacher education, there are some difficulties with the ITT curriculum. There is no space for ITT providers to truly embed a conversation about race, diversity, equality and inclusion in their curricula. Typically, in a university-based course, you might have one session for the year with some vague notion that it is embedded through everything else, but that is very difficult to track and monitor. I have been working quite hard at my institution to challenge my colleagues to think about how these conversations can be threaded through and how we can make connections for the students, so they know that this one key lecture they are having on diversity, equality and inclusion also has connections with the sessions they are doing on planning for learning and on assessment, and they can see the connections more clearly. There are some fundamental difficulties that teacher education has at the moment in relation to this.
Q60 Elliot Colburn: I was going to ask, Christine, whether there was anything missing from the initial teacher training curriculum. Would you say that, first and foremost, it is the space, as you say, or is there more than just creating the space? Are there things that need to be threaded throughout the teacher training curriculum to make teachers feel more confident discussing race and diversity in the classroom?
Dr Callender: Earlier on, Marlon referred to the teachers’ standards. Over time, having had a very explicit focus on issues to do with diversity and inclusion, with specific teacher standards that referred to that, we have gone to a set of teacher standards that do not even mention the words “diversity” and “inclusion”. It is problematic to ask teacher educators with a finite amount of time with their students—because, in a PGCE, for instance, 50% of the programme is delivered in school—to do this very broad‑based work that is really important to help our beginner teachers understand these issues, how it relates to them and their reality, and how they are going to use that, as Allana says, in terms of the children they are working with.
It is an issue of time, but it is also about content. We need to go back to having an explicit focus or at least something that talks to these issues. We cannot continue in the way we are by having this dialogue that says the flexibility is in the curriculum. It is not.
Caroline Wright: It is not an area of expertise for BESA, particularly initial teacher training, but, in the surveys we have put out to schools on ongoing continuous professional development, it is always an area of general CPD, let alone issues of diversity and inclusion as specific CPD. Almost 40% of primary teachers say they need additional support in understanding, at the moment particularly, how to use educational technology. There will be multiple levels of need in relation to their ongoing training that need addressing in school, as well as ITT training.
Q61 Elliot Colburn: Picking up on the discussion we were having earlier about budgets and the impact that the pandemic in particular would have had on school resourcing, we talked about the curriculum and training, but how much do you think budget plays a role in the decision on the level of importance that is placed on teaching diversity within the curriculum within individual schools?
Allana Gay: Budgets play a significant role in schools, because what you can budget for and invest in, you can prioritise. Throughout the pandemic, the priority in my school and every school across the country has been, “How do I keep students safe? How do I keep the environment safe so that they are able to attend? How do I staff it so they are able to learn? How do I staff remote provision, as well as making all those provisions?” Not having that funded, then having to make another outlay and think, “How am I going to deal with students’ mental health? How am I going to make sure they are all very well cared for?” and then still having to put the curriculum together, means that I am going to try to do something on the cheap.
When you start doing equity, diversity and inclusion on the cheap, the same thing is going to happen to our schools across the country as we have seen happen with our SEN students and the outcomes that they have when they are not invested in. We know that, when something is prioritised and the investment is made, the impact is much larger. Unless we are ready to make that investment, yes, budgets are going to play a significant role in limiting how much schools can do and how quickly we can elevate equity across our schools.
Q62 Elliot Colburn: Emily, does the museum have any insight into the impacts of budgets on the teaching of diversity in the curriculum?
Emily Miller: I will pass on to Christine, who definitely will have a lot more to say about it.
Dr Callender: I can talk about this in my role as a teacher educator. This is one of the things that we have been concerned about in terms of how we support our trainees. We have had to think very creatively and carefully about how we can support them within the current context that they are training in, but also maintain the very high standards that we expect of them in their understanding of these issues. We have been very creative. We have used technology quite a lot, but, yes, funding is quite a significant factor here.
Q63 Elliot Colburn: Caroline, does BESA have any insight into the effect of budgets on the teaching of diversity in the curriculum?
Caroline Wright: Like I said, we do an annual report on expenditure in schools. In our 2020 report, the head teachers who responded said that fewer than 22% of primary schools and 16% of secondary schools felt they were adequately funded for their teaching and learning resource supplies. That was before the pandemic. We have had additional pressures on schools, as we have heard from other panellists, particularly with supplying PPE and keeping their staff safe.
When we survey our schools, we ask them what they are planning to spend the budgets on. We are seeing a reduction in the amount that schools are planning to spend on resources. Again, I will caveat that this was in January. We have not updated it post school closures, but they were expecting to spend less on resources because they were investing their spending focus more towards teachers and teaching assistants.
Even though I represent an organisation for supplies of resources, I am not going to challenge that at all. Of course, you need a talented, able, high‑quality teacher, but it shows where pressures are in schools that they are having to fund the teaching and teaching assistants, and they cannot do both. That is leading to a reduction in resources.
Given this particular context, there is a small ray of sunshine. Again, this was in January. Of the amount that they were going to spend on resources, from key stage 1 through to key stage 4, more schools said they were expecting to move their resource budget to prioritise humanities over other subjects. That is a new trend. We have not seen that over a number of years, so that is a small positive. However, that is likely to have changed, given the additional pressures of this year.
Q64 Elliot Colburn: We have touched on the curriculum, training and finance. I will finish with a fourth element, which is teachers’ working hours and the effect, essentially, of a teacher’s workload on whether diversity and conversations about race will play a role in their continued professional development as they go through their careers as a teacher. Do you feel that the time pressure a teacher is under is another column of why, potentially, there are not more discussions about this within the classroom?
Allana Gay: Yes, definitely, because, whatever teachers do, we want to do it very well and we want to make sure it is high impact for students. Depending on a teacher’s starting point of understanding diversity and inclusion, not having had it through their training or as a core part of their training, it means that the amount of learning they have to do in order to deliver diversity and inclusion in the classroom really well, to access resources or even to find out about resources is going to impact very much on their workload.
Most organisations try to highlight and put it directly in front of teachers in a really simplistic manner so that they can access it quickly, because high‑quality, accessible resources would be what the teacher who has a high workload is aiming towards in the first instance, until they have enough time to build up their own knowledge and understanding. That definitely has to be one of the measures taken if we really want to push this agenda forward as a starting point, considering the current workload that teachers have been under.
Emily Miller: In my experience of the teachers I work with through the museum, but also of many good friends who are teachers, they are absolutely exhausted. From the museum perspective, we have pivoted our education programme. Given that we are closed to the public right now and we are not accepting school visits until probably springtime, we get the chance to focus much more on teacher training and feeding into PGCE programmes, but also multi‑academy trust teacher training programmes and CPD. I delivered a session yesterday; I am delivering one tomorrow.
To keep them as practical as possible, understanding that teachers’ time is incredibly precious, as Allana says, I am going to spend that hour and a half giving them things that they can adapt very quickly to fit their classroom. That is the bit we can do to acknowledge what teachers are up against and try to make their lives a bit easier, but that feeds into our whole teacher training approach.
Dr Callender: It is a case of not thinking about issues of diversity, inclusion and equality in terms of teachers having this thing that they need to deliver. To me, it is more a journey. I see my role as a teacher educator to be one of helping beginner teachers to begin to understand these big ideas and concepts. That needs to be built into their continuing professional development. In the same way that we want to make sure that we plan high‑quality learning for children, we want to make sure that we also have high‑quality understanding of practice around issues to do with diversity, equality and inclusion.
It is more about how we think about these issues as part of a teacher’s progression. It should not be bolted on, as it has been, because it does not work very well. We need to consider how we can begin a conversation about these issues in a teacher’s very early experiences, how that can be continued once they are in the class and they are moving on, and how we can embed that as a core aspect of teachers’ practice.
Caroline Wright: Going back to that previous point, if the resources are not available to buy in or use, or teachers do not know where to go to find resources, many will spend extra hours creating their own and putting them together. That can add significantly to their workload burden. We identified that as a challenge several years ago and have tried to develop an online portal, where teachers can go for advice from other teachers on effective resources that they can use in their classes, with the chance to try them free of charge.
We also find that, because schools are time‑pressured, they may make the wrong purchasing decision for resources, which ends up wasting money and with things not being used, and adding more time pressures. We have set up a try‑before‑you‑buy service for teachers to learn from other teachers about what might work in their context, which will hopefully help cut down on the time it takes them to find them.
Q65 Apsana Begum: My first question is about what you think the role of school leadership and management teams should be in creating institutional cultures that support teachers to teach diverse curricula and make that teaching work effectively, while complying with obligations under the Equality Act.
Dr Callender: There is research out there that tells us that high‑quality school leadership, where there is a clear institutional understanding of diversity and equality, not only makes for a positive working environment for teachers but has benefits for children’s attainment. A lot of the work that has been done in Lambeth, for instance, has looked at the features of effective schools, where you see very positive outcomes in terms of children’s attainment. We know what some of the key factors are, but the issue is that it is not spread widely enough.
Q66 Apsana Begum: To follow up on that, Christine, in terms of obligations under the Equality Act, the role of leadership and management teams and cultures, in the higher education sector, where I used to work on inclusion, one thing that is looked at is the framework for how complaints are dealt with or how discrimination in the education system is addressed. What role should management teams and leadership teams have in tackling racial discrimination, for example, in the system and at that level?
Dr Callender: There are a couple of issues here. There are issues about confidence in handling these issues and fully understanding whether something is a racial incident. There is something to do with confidence. There is also a practice of under-reporting racial incidents. As a school leader, you do not want to have too many reports of racial incidents on your books because, when Ofsted comes looking, it is going to be concerned about that. For me, it is about developing school leaders’ racial literacy, confidence, skills in having these conversations, as difficult as they might be, and some guidance and support for school teachers on how to do this. They do not necessarily get trained on how to do it. They just find that they have to deal with it.
Allana Gay: We need to look at two different facets of school leadership. One is about governance, and the other is about the school and the way the operating model is built. School operating models are built on business models. McKinsey has done research in 2020, which shows that business models with diversity and inclusion embedded into them are 36% more likely to be very successful. With schools and school leadership taking that on board, they already know that they have strength in diversity. It is about why it is not happening.
We need to look at the three parts. How do we recruit into our schools? That is a main function of governance. How do we retain staff? That is a main function of the school leadership and how it builds school cultures that allow cultural contribution to happen. How do we promote within our schools and identify those who are ready for promotion? What systems are we putting in place to ensure that they can be promoted really rapidly in education?
In our schools, we are not yet very good at all these parts, because it is not a requirement in any of the frameworks. It is not in the framework for headship, for governance or for building the culture and the manner in which our schools operate. It comes down to the senior leadership team, the governors, the chair of governors and those who are really embedded and want to make that contribution, in terms of diversity and inclusion being a main focus and part of their schools.
We come back to that conversation about it being an ad hoc choice as opposed to anything that is mandated. As Christine identified, it is not something that Ofsted, the Independent Schools Inspectorate, the DfE or any of its bodies are going to talk about. When we are looking at how we get senior leadership teams to prioritise diversity and inclusion, and its implementation, unless we are willing to do something from the top level to say that that change needs to be instituted, just the knowledge of the profit that that will bring for students, the school itself and society has never been enough to drive senior leadership teams to make that change and allow it to happen.
Q67 Apsana Begum: You would say that, for example, equality and diversity training for teachers should be compulsory, but you are saying it does not go far enough to address these inequalities.
Allana Gay: It needs to be compulsory in NPQ standards, the initial teacher training and governance training, as an essential part of governance. All those parts need to occur. It also needs to be modelled by the institutions we work for. The Department for Education is not exactly a model of diversity and inclusion, despite having a unit that is dedicated to teaching equality and diversity. It is a unit that has no voice or strength within the Department itself. If that is what the Department for Education is modelling for us, it is little surprise that the schools it is sending edicts out to, therefore, follow that same model and do not prioritise diversity and inclusion as an integral part of us developing our schools and allowing them to evolve to the next stage.
Apsana Begum: Can I go to Emily next, on the role of school leadership and management teams in creating institutional cultures to support teaching diverse curricula, and the compliance with their obligations under the Equality Act?
Emily Miller: I was having a look through the resources shared on Allana’s website, BAMEed. That really spoke to me about the power of having a diverse board of governors for a school and how, only when that is achieved, can that board of governors really hold the school leadership and school teachers to account where issues arise around equality and diversity, complaints and issues going on in the school life. I never really understood the role of governors until I became a teacher and realised how important they are and how much power they have. It is about school leadership in its visible sense in terms of head teachers, vice principals, et cetera, but also about the governors and the clout they have.
I do not know if I am really answering your question. I am just thinking about what I have seen from BAMEed and what I have learnt there. A lot of the teachers who come to us are classroom teachers or possibly heads of department. I very rarely deal directly with senior leadership teams in a school, and yet they have to sign off their pupils and their teachers becoming involved with the museum. I know that their sign‑off and their stay is very important in what is done and changed in the ethos of the school.
Q68 Apsana Begum: Emily, do you think there should be something going beyond just the equality and diversity or unconscious bias training? Do you think there should be a development of some kind of anti‑racism training at schools and for leadership teams as well?
Emily Miller: I personally do think that there should be that level of intervention. It has always been needed, but the events of this year and the shake‑up and the reckoning that is happening and needs to happen across different sectors just shows that this is really needed. When I was training to be a teacher, I was training to be a citizenship teacher, so we debated some of these themes through my subject knowledge training. I believe, if I was training to be a maths teacher, I might not have had any of that intervention.
That is no longer excusable, not that it ever was. In the initial teacher training, it needs to be woven in and not ad hoc, as Christine says, but really central to everything. Teachers are training to teach in state schools where nearly 30% of pupils are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. How can they be ready to do that to the best of their pupils’ abilities if they have not had that training and that input?
Caroline Wright: We have experts on the panel. BESA is not best placed to talk about the role of senior leaders, but I very much agree with what we have heard. Leadership, whether it is a school or anywhere else, starts at the top and the culture is set by the behaviours of those senior leaders.
Q69 Apsana Begum: The teachers’ standards and the ITT, for example, do not mention cultural diversity. Do you think that these frameworks are adequate for designing the training to promote a diverse and inclusive curriculum? If not, what needs to happen to ensure that it is effectively promoting a diverse and inclusive curriculum?
Dr Callender: I had a look at these documents before I came here today. I was quite interested and I did a word‑search for some key terms that I would have anticipated to have found in them. In terms of issues around equality, diversity and inclusion, they say nothing. If these documents do not recognise and embed the significance of diversity, equality, inclusion and race equality within them, there is very little impetus for people to prioritise these things.
We first need to recognise that these issues are key to teachers, students and our society. Then we need to make sure that they are properly embedded into our documentation and that there is an accountability framework also that ensures that, in teacher training, through the teachers’ standards and the head teachers’ standards, there is an expectation that you will demonstrate some key competencies in these areas.
Allana Gay: I would have to agree with Christine on this. The standards themselves seem to have embedded themselves in neutrality, while not really saying much when it comes to diversity and inclusion or the importance of it. As long as that becomes the standard by which we are judging head teachers, it is, again, up to them to decide whether their moral purpose is going to allow them to stray into the areas of equity, diversity and inclusion and embed them as a core part of the culture of their school.
The fact that it is not in there signifies a lack of importance and significance in building leadership that has an understanding of it and, therefore, the need to go and seek training. There is a lot of training available out there on anti‑racism, embedding cultural diversity into your school, building a successful school that is diverse and inclusive, and how to go through the changes of structures that you have within your schools so that those are done successfully. The impetus is not there unless it becomes a part of the standards by which we are holding our leaders to account.
Emily Miller: I have been quite concerned by what has been coming out from politicians about not teaching extreme political stances, not sharing victim narratives and everything. I am sorry to be negative here, but I really fear that some of that quite threatening language, coming across as guidance, is going to have a negative impact on schools. As I have said previously, teachers who come to us and bring their pupils to the museum already have a stated lack of confidence of treading in these areas and talking about these issues with their pupils. They seek that external support.
If the messages from the Government are threatening on those kinds of themes, albeit with, perhaps, different intentions to what comes across, I feel it gives an excuse for teachers and schools to shy away further from these themes, which desperately need to be addressed really positively. I really hope that teachers remain strong and confident, or try to build their confidence in these areas, and do not get put off by those recent pieces of guidance.
Caroline Wright: I would like to build on Christine’s point on the accountability side of things. If we really want change to be made, there are levers that schools will follow, even though they might prefer it not to be the case and it is added pressure. If something is inspected, looked at or in an exam, that does effect change. That is where the schools would like to be able to do a lot more on a wider range of issues, but, if we want very speedy change, it is looking at how we hold schools to account.
Q70 Bell Ribeiro-Addy: Caroline, BESA has been working with the Department for Education to develop the LendED website to help schools get the most out of their existing resources and provide teachers with easy‑to‑use home learning materials. Is there a role for the Department for Education to support the development and use of resources to increase the teaching of black history and diverse curricula? How would this work?
Caroline Wright: The LendED platform is developed by BESA. The Department for Education supported it, but has not been involved in its development. That was something we were doing before the pandemic to try to help connect teachers with the right resources that they would need for a whole range of issues. It came from an example we saw in the London Borough of Havering, where they had a learning library. Special educational needs teachers could go in, physically borrow a product and take it back to their school to see if it worked, rather than spending money. We thought that was such a good idea that we would like to apply it on a national platform, so that, digitally, schools could borrow and look out resources.
That has been running for a couple of years. During coronavirus, we opened it up to include home learning and, as a result, £36 million of free resources and support was given by industry to schools. It covers all aspects of the curriculum, not just diversity and inclusion, but it does not flag diversity and inclusion resources specifically. That is definitely a role that we could look to develop for the LendED portal. As I mentioned, we have a working group of educational publishers looking at the issue from an industry perspective. We will look at whether we can increase the reach of LendED for that. It is a BESA platform that is offered and it has the DfE’s support in flagging it on some of its websites as a place where teachers can go.
Q71 Chair: In our earlier session, there was a discussion about how local history and the interconnections between it and migration could help in teaching of black history and black culture in our schools, and how it could connect global migration with not only the history of the UK, but the world as a whole and local communities where students live. Do you think that that is part of the solution or enough of the solution, or are there inherent problems?
I ask that from the perspective of the Member of Parliament for where Florence Nightingale lived and is buried. I am conscious that there is a long‑running battle, although I hesitate to use that word, as to how we should teach the history of nursing and whether it should be all about Florence Nightingale or include Mary Seacole. I very much want to see it include both, but the challenge is that, in a constituency like mine, the temptation might be to go for Nightingale because it is convenient and easy.
Caroline Wright: I would defer to my teacher expert colleagues. There is a place for local context to be able to choose what is appropriate, but to make sure that there is a balance and pupils are exposed to new experiences too. You can get very bored going to visit local monuments as a primary school pupil. It might be nice to see some other things too. There is always a balance, but it comes back to being able to signpost the sources of help and support out there. I am definitely going to look at Emily’s museum after this, in the context of some of the schools that we work with.
It is about how you share the good practice and knowledge that is out there. That would be a great starting point. There are some really expert subject associations, but signposting those to teachers so that they know where to go and do not have to spend extra hours is a key challenge.
Allana Gay: Professor David Olusoga, when he did “Black and British”, the television show, spent a lot of time going around local areas, bringing that history to life for everyone and making that a part of the history that they would have experienced. There is a lot to be done in extrapolating from local history and finding out the important people who are a part of the local community, so that history goes from the personal, to the local and to the global, and we can, therefore, build on that to incorporate the stories of everyone. There is a role there to be had.
It is even more important to open up the discussion. It is best to present Nightingale and her role within nursing, warts and all, as opposed to presenting the sanitised version of Nightingale that we get within some of the resources that are presented in schools. It is opening up children and education to be able to hold those discussions well so that, when we are discussing our local history, we can say, “This happened, but this also happened. This is how we evolved from it, and this is how we move forward to become a better society.” That has to be an essential part of it as well.
Dr Callender: I am sitting here thinking about this from the perspective of an English teacher and the comment made earlier by Chris about his own history as a Welsh speaker. There are many opportunities here to work across the curriculum where you can connect up history with language histories and look at how things have changed over time. It is really useful to capture local histories and to use them for the good, but you have to filter a lot of the material that you are using. There is some brilliant stuff on the BBC archives, for instance, if you want to look at historical development of language. There are some materials out there that can be used. In principle, I would say that that is a good way forward.
Emily Miller: I cannot claim to know Florence Nightingale or Mary Seacole personally, but I imagine that they would not like to be up against each other in a bunfight. I do not think that that is the point. I hope you can convey to your local historian friends and schools that it can be inclusive history. As Allana said, it is a balance: it can be that, and that as well.
We are a London‑based museum with a view to having a permanent home in London, yet migration history is a national picture, always has been and always will be. It is about us working alongside other museums, galleries and archives to connect them up with schools in their local area. A good conduit for that is Historic England. We are just getting to know better how it works. It has regional education advisers who work with schools on local histories. Helping them and working with them to draw out migration histories and diverse histories specifically is quite an exciting thing that we are working on at the moment. See the work of Historic England. Caroline, I cannot wait to show you around the museum when we are open again.
Q72 Apsana Begum: I had a quick question about the resources that teachers often have and do not have. Resources are really important in diversifying the curriculum and, like some of you, there are many organisations that host a lot of resources of their own. Do you think there are enough resources available for teachers to improve the curriculum content on race and diversity? If not, what needs to be done apart from putting in more resources? In what ways can there be a greater commitment to help improve access and the resources for that content?
Allana Gay: There are lots of resources. On our BAMEed website, we tend to signpost a lot of resources and act as a conduit, to direct teachers to where they can find resources on any aspect they are looking for and make it easy and convenient. In curating that, we have had to work with experts like Christine Callender and Professor Paul Miller, so their research is driving it. Academia is coming in to drive part of the research into what makes a quality resource and to have peer review of those resources.
Part of the issue we have is not so much in having the resources and streamlining them but in funding the projects that work. If we know that the Migration Museum works, fund it. Allow all our schools to have access to it. Allow them to build an online platform where we can all have access to it, and the same with the Runnymede Trust and Our Migration Story. Fund it. Fund the projects that work rather than throwing things at equality and diversity in just a random spend. There are lots of projects that work. There are lots of academics who are incredibly successful and knowledgeable in the field, and who can direct us in how we tailor resources, so that they are widely spread. Allow that access to happen by funding the projects that work.
Caroline Wright: It is really important that schools continue to have choice so that they can use those really high‑quality resources that are out there. There are resources available. I go back to the point I made about having the budgets to obtain them or use them. I have not mentioned it yet, but there is also an ongoing challenge of procurement patterns in schools. We just had a really good debate about the use of local resources on your doorstep for schools. There is a decline in individual school procurement and autonomy. There is a move to procuring more as chains of academies. That move will reduce the individual school’s ability to decide what is right for their context and their students, which could be worrying potentially. I very much back Allana’s point about giving schools choice. There are good resources out there. Schools just need the funds to procure them.
Q73 Catherine McKinnell: Thank you very much for this very rich evidence session so far. One final piece of the jigsaw on which it would be helpful to get some understanding from you is the impact of the teaching workforce themselves. To what extent does the composition and how diverse it is have an impact on how the curriculum is taught? What can we do to try to maximise that diversity, if that is something that you think will support the aim of diversifying the curriculum?
Dr Callender: This is a perennial question. How do we diversify the teacher workforce? We have had various interventions over time where Government provided small sums of money for teacher training providers to run projects locally and regionally. The issue about making the profession more diverse goes right back down to school. To get the qualifications one needs to be a teacher, if you look at the performance of certain ethnic groups, going back to the beginning of the conversation, we can see that there are differential patterns for all kinds of groups of young people. It is a systemic and structural issue.
Having said that, my work is not so much about how we get people in but whether the institutions we are bringing them into are ready for them, what experiences they have while they are in them and what we can learn from that. When I joined as a teacher all those years ago, I was the only person who looked like me in my cohort because I chose English and it was not a subject that very many BAME students did. I cannot speak for others but, for my institution, I think we are doing relatively well in recruiting BAME students; I can say that particularly for our secondary provision—they recruit exceptionally well, and primary does well too.
As I say, it is about how you keep them in there, how you prepare them to deal with the challenges they will inevitably face and how you coach and mentor them through their profession. The workforce issue will not be solved in my lifetime. It is something we need to continue to chip away at. It is a bigger question that we have and it is about how, while we may not have the diversity in the actual bodies, we can prepare those people who are teachers to do the job better. To me, that is the kind of focus we need to think about with the situation that we have now.
Catherine McKinnell: Allana, what do you think are the biggest challenges?
Allana Gay: They are the motivation to make the change happen, and recruitment practice. What training is there for those people who are the gatekeepers to ITT, whether it be via School Direct, university placements or PGCE? What training is there for those gatekeepers in terms of recruitment practice for diversity and inclusion?
A mandate needs to be made. There is a programme called The Difference that was funded by Kiran Gill. In the first cohort of The Difference, they found that they did not recruit a diverse cohort, so she went back and advertised in different places. She used all her networks. She did not rest and did not start that cohort until a diverse cohort was recruited. We need universities, School Direct and all these different platforms to take that same stance. Go back and do something different so that you are not doing the same thing to get exactly the same result.
There is a lot of university bias. If someone comes from Oxbridge or the Russell Group, it is assumed that their level of teaching is going to be much better than someone who comes from a middle‑rate university or a university outside that sphere. Therefore, their graduates are more highly regarded and highly sought, but not necessarily much more talented at teaching than anyone else.
The bursary system is misdirected. It is a blanket shot bursary that goes out to everyone. Education needs to learn from what has happened in social work and nursing, in that bursaries are targeted on the basis of socioeconomics, not just on subject. If we were targeting on the basis of socioeconomics, we would get, just like in nursing and social work, a larger intake of ethnic minority students who would want to come into the profession, because they know that they are financially supported. Therefore, we would get a lot more from all the disadvantaged backgrounds, not just on an ethnic minority basis. Those are the three areas that I would look at in order to change the pipeline that we currently have coming into education.
Q74 Catherine McKinnell: That answers the second question I was going to ask in terms of how we direct the funding more effectively. That is very efficiently done. I know we are short of time, so I was just going to ask one more question. This is a bit broader to all of you. We know there are lots of challenges for schools and the Department for Education at this time. What should their priorities be right now? What immediate actions could they take in the current context that could improve things straightaway? Can you think of at least one? That will be their challenge.
Dr Callender: Make some changes to the teachers’ standards so diversity, inclusion and equality are at the heart of a teacher’s job.
Allana Gay: I will extend that further to making changes to all the standards across the piece, whether it be head teacher, et cetera, and to fund what works. Fund the organisations that are already putting in the work, so that schools can get access to all the resources readily available for them.
Caroline Wright: I would just add building in the time and the support for schools to do that—so building in the time for teachers to have ongoing CPD on the issue and providing the financial backing for them to do that.
Catherine McKinnell: I was going to say that time generally means money in that context.
Emily Miller: Allana has already called for the Migration Museum to be funded, so she has done my financial pitch for me. I would echo what the three other panellists have said. There could be more space to do this in the teacher training before teachers qualify, because we know that, when teachers qualify, it might be a bit late by then and they are totally swamped. Getting it in really early and weaving it through is really important, and we would love to be part of that.
Chair: Can I thank all our witnesses this afternoon for your contributions and some incredibly rich evidence? That is hugely appreciated. Thank you. It has been incredibly helpful.