Author: Camille London-Miyo
It is April 30th, and the government has reported that there have been 26,711 COVID-19 related deaths across the United Kingdom to date. We are all worried about the recent pandemic and the potential long-term effects on our communities. As Black educators we have become increasingly concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on black communities. We are worried by the high level of deaths amongst BAME staff in the NHS and the wider community.
Reassurances from Gavin Williamson, the government’s Education Secretary, that he is equally concerned about whether black and minority ethnic school staff may be at a higher risk, do little to assuage our worries. With increasing calls for schools to be reopened, many of us wonder whether Education will become the new frontline, in the absence of any clear strategy for the protection of staff and children post lockdown.
These are just a few of the things that we know for sure.
- COVID-19 has only further highlighted the differences and inequalities that exist within education that we knew existed prior to this pandemic.
- Black educators in schools found themselves disproportionately being told to come into school to supervise the children of key workers.
- The move to online teaching has further colonised a curriculum that we have struggled for many years to “decolonise “
- Many black supply teachers found their contracts speedily terminated after lockdown
- Black students will be negatively affected by the revised arrangements for the awarding of 2020 GCSE and A level grades.
So, what next? As Black educators, at this time perhaps more than at any other time in our history, we need to know how to reach our communities. We need to re-engage and strengthen our links within those communities. As educators we need to stay in touch with our parents and ask them, where we can , if there is anything we can do to help them through these ‘unprecedented times’.
If there is a sprint towards austerity at the end of this pandemic, we need to be clear about what our response will be to ensure we can safeguard a fully inclusive education system that reflects all of the communities it seeks to serve.