BLM – What To Do Now?

This Guest Piece is from @NorwichSoS.

For schools wanting to know how they can ‘channel the justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action’ @NorwichSoS invite you to join #ADayOfWelcome #BlackLivesMatter.

Make this moment a turning point for antiracist action in your school

Where we are…

“I recognise that these past few months have been hard and dispiriting — that the fear, sorrow, uncertainty, and hardship of a pandemic have been compounded by tragic reminders that prejudice and inequality still shape so much of American life. But watching the heightened activism of young people in recent weeks, of every race and every station, makes me hopeful. If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals. Let’s get to work.”

Barack Obama, June 2020, ‘How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real ChangeThe young people we work with are likely to have seen images of the US protests over the death of George Floyd and maybe even videos of others’ violence. Some pupils may cope with this in the belief that police brutality and guns are in the US; somewhere other than where we are. Lots will not, because of their experiences and the experiences passed down to them from family members or what they can read about from recent and distant history. Combined with the fact we are still in a pandemic in which BAME people are disproportionately dying of a virus that apparently doesn’t discriminate; it is highly likely we will be working with children and young people who are living in a heightened state of anxiety and fear; for some, trauma. Not only can this impact mental health now and in the future, but it can worsen health outcomes and reduce academic achievement. It is also likely we will have staff members and families who are feeling the same right now.

“There is a large and growing body of robust evidence demonstrating that racism leads to mental illnesses.” 

Alison Faulkner, April 2019, ‘The impact of racism on mental health’

We are upset, we are angry; what we can do?

It is perfectly normal to feel such emotions; it is okay to feel uncomfortable. It is a natural response to what we are seeing. To manage those feelings, self-regulate, and for some, heal, we need to be agents for positive change. As educators, there are several things we can do to reduce inequality in our settings and create a safe space with positive role models. There is excellent support available, including:

As with any school improvement plan, we need a whole-school approach to reducing equality and creating a safe space where learning takes place for everyone, and we need to remember there are no quick fixes with this; it will take time to be truly embedded.

A school will only deliver an inclusive education where all pupils can succeed if you:

Have a shared vision which promotes equality.

  1. Provide clear leadership to create and manage a positive environment which enhances equality and inclusion and supports and champion efforts to promote equality and inclusion; be antiracist.

Have a whole organisational culture which supports and promotes mutual care and concern and trusting relationships

  1. Have an ethos and environment where all members of the school feel happy and safe to learn.
  2. Have a supportive school and classroom climate and ethos which builds a sense of connectedness, focus and purpose, the acceptance of emotion, respect, warm relationships and communication and the celebration of difference and values diversity; be antiracist·

Have clear, planned curriculum opportunities to support the development of equality and inclusion to help pupils explain understand and find ways to challenge inequality using appropriate learning and teaching styles.

Provide opportunities for children to participate in activities to build their confidence and self-esteem; be antiracist·

  • Identify pupils’ specific equality needs.
  • Provide equality support for pupils where needed
  • Refer to and/or deliver specialist provision
  • Can evidence vulnerable children and their carers reporting feeling valued and supported; be antiracist ·

Have mechanisms are in place to ensure all children can understand and easily access the pastoral support system  

Have identified routes for referral for all children and young people and staff can evidence children, young people and staff know how to seek help if they are upset or troubled Can evidence families feel empowered to improve their understanding of equal rights within education and wider; be antiracist 

Plan CPD programme for all staff to support the teaching of equality

  • Ensure staff are aware of their role in responding to equality issues
  • Can evidence staff reporting that the school supports and enhances their equal rights; be antiracist 
  • Are engaging children through an equitable pupil voice to share responsibility in decision making within the school, and all can identify their contribution to school improvement; be antiracist.
  • Have mechanisms in place to ensure parents/carers and local communities enjoy and get actively involved within the school. This involvement is varied and in response to consultation; be antiracist.


How to start the work…

You need to ensure you are educated; understand what actions and feelings have caused recent events, understand the difference between not being racist and being antiracist. Then you need to find materials and resources to help foster productive conversations in your school about race and civil disobedience.

This padlet is a good start. 

For any school leaders wanting to know how they can ‘channel … justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action’ I have included links to the Schools of Sanctuary initiative which teaches about equality with a focus on refugees and asylum seekers.  

It also contains all you need, and more, to prepare, plan and run ‘A Day of Welcome’ on June 12th. 

‘A Day of Welcome’ created and led by Jake Rose-Brown from Norfolk Schools of Sanctuary is a call to action, with ideas and resources, tried and tested in Norfolk but now ready to go wider. 

There is an inextricable link between racism and xenophobia, and the prejudice and injustice faced by refugees and asylum seekers seeking sanctuary in the UK. Taking part in A Day of Welcome is one just way to spark antiracist dialogue and action in your school. It will also help to combat stereotypes and misconceptions about refugee migration and to help build a culture of welcome for all in your setting.

The Aims of A Day of Welcome.

  1. To build an understanding of the experiences and contributions of refugees and asylum seekers.

  2. To uncover and celebrate little-known stories of refugee migration.

  3. To signpost Refugee week events which pupils, families and staff may wish to participate in. 

We hope your community, including those currently at home, join Norfolk schools on June 12th. If you do, please share your action via Facebook or Twitter #ADayOfWelcome or email.  If you are in any doubt of the need to ensure your school is antiracist, put simply; racism is killing our young people.   If you really believe #Black Lives matter; do the work!

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