Congress commends campaigns including Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford for confronting the many ways in which the UK’s colonial legacy continues to influence education today.
At all levels, the UK’s education system has been built on historical structures that privilege the views and experiences of those in power. These perspectives have informed the ways in which institutions and research are funded, as well as the way in which curricula are developed and taught.
Congress has a clear ambition to build an inclusive, fair and harmonious society. Advancing race equality, tackling racism and addressing barriers that prevent people from Black and minority ethnic communities from realising their potential are clear objectives of Congress.
One key aspect of building equality in society is to address inequalities in the workplace. Congress notes that each sector must identify and confront institutional and cultural barriers to diversity, whether conscious or unconscious, and not shy away from addressing racism, racial discrimination or harassment where it exists.
Their influence is also evident in the deeply unequal recruitment and progression outcomes for different groups of students and education staff. In higher education, for example, just 25 Black women were recorded as working as professors in 2018 compared to 14,000 white men. In schools, only 14 per cent of teachers and 7 per cent of headteachers are Black. The rate of under-representation remains entrenched. In Scotland the number of teachers from a BME background is only around one-third of the proportion of BME pupils in Scottish schools, with said teachers being significantly under-represented in promoted posts.
De-colonising education is a critical step towards tackling the systemic racism and structural inequality in our society. It is crucial that this work also extends to our own trade union education programmes and organising approaches.
Congress demands determined action by government and employers on the recruitment and progression of Black workers by tackling discrimination and deepening understanding of the causes of historical and contemporary racism.
Congress supports educators across all sectors in promoting and developing diverse and inclusive curricula; in challenging their institutions to address structural barriers to equality; and in working with other groups campaigning for a fairer and more representative education system.
Congress resolves therefore to support the work of affiliates in challenging this inequity.
Congress also supports the work of affiliates in Scotland to ensure that anti-racist education is embedded in the Scottish curriculum, including an examination and exposure of Scotland’s historic links to the slave trade.
Mover: University and College Union
Seconder: Educational Institute of Scotland
Supporter: National Education Union