Statement on Department for Education Guidance on PSHE

A joint statement by  BEA: Black Educators Alliance and CARE: Coalition of Anti-Racist Educators

First published in New Socialist: http://newsocialist.org.uk/transmissions/statement-department-education-guidance-personal-social-health-and-economic-education/

Date: Monday September 28 2020

As educators and movements across the UK are taking strides towards achieving just and fair education for all pupils, the government has released chilling and worrying guidance for institutions’ PSHE programmes, as Sex and Relationships Education is made mandatory in all schools. The guidance, which specifies what kinds of resources and external speakers can be used in school PSHE lessons, is a thinly veiled attack on a wide range of movements fighting for urgently-needed social justice causes, and has implications far beyond its apparently narrow scope. As educators committed to anti-racist work, we are gravely concerned about the way this guidance appears to censor materials produced by anti-racist organisations and activists. We note that the guidance appears to be emboldening and validating far right organisations, and we aren ready to oppose this on all possible fronts.

This new guidance puts groups wanting to replace the economic system on a par with those endorsing racism, antisemitism and violence, or the overthrow of democracy. CARE, the Coalition of Anti-Racist Educators and The Black Educators Aliance vehemently attack this new guidance for setting up black and brown children to fail as soon as they enter education, and undermining ‘freedom of speech’. This is an act of violence upon tens of thousands of educators’, students’ and parents’ lived experiences, meeting them with gaslighting and adversarial opposition. We are denied our lived experiences and silenced yet again. This is what racial gaslighting sounds like. According to Amnesty International, “governments have an obligation to prohibit hate speech and incitement”: this guidance itself is an incitement to hate speech, and an act of hate speech in itself.

This is an act of violence upon tens of thousands of educators’, students’ and parents’ lived experiences, meeting them with gaslighting and adversarial opposition. We are denied our lived experiences and silenced yet again.” tweet this

The practical implications of this guidance mean that speakers and resources from a wide range of organisations will now effectively be barred from schools. The broadly-written guidance prevents educators from using any materials from organisations which “fail to condemn illegal activities done in their name or in support of their cause, particularly violent actions against people or property”, even if those materials do not in themselves incite or describe illegal actions. This means that if any activist in an organisation, for example, pulls down a statue of a genocidal coloniser or slave trader, every member of that organisation will be banned from schools. Many informal educators and community organisers, particularly Global Majority, will have associations with organisations which at one point or another may have engaged in civil disobedience or actions deemed unlawful, as civil rights movements have done throughout their history. These informal educators are now being censored, in a move which appears to directly contradict the Department for Education’s commitment to “free speech.” During the era of civil rights protests in the US, now celebrated as a just and worthy cause, many people did not approve of the methods used by movement leaders such as Martin Luther King to protest against injustice: he was said to be an “outside agitator” causing trouble. Many who quote Martin Luther King today, using his words out of context to condemn protests, would have openly opposed him at the time: according to this guidance, he would not have been allowed to set foot in a UK school.

Beyond the direct impact of the guidance on speakers in schools, its language – which includes language like “victim narratives” and “unsubstantiated accusations against state institutions” – sends a very clear signal to those on the far right of education who wish to silence discussion of anti-racism in schools and maintain the white supremacist status quo. We can already see right-wing groups, such as ‘Common Sense UK’ and Reclaim, celebrating the fact that this guidance seems to prohibit discussing Black Lives Matter in schools. This echoes the recent executive order signed by Trump in the US, prohibiting the teaching of Critical Race Theory and mandating a ‘patriotic curriculum’; in both the US and the UK, governments are making policy designed to appeal to those who do not want the status quo of white supremacy to be disrupted.

As well as its impact on anti-racist work, the new guidelines appear to restrict a number of other types of liberation work. Organisations which oppose capitalism and may use tactics of civil disobedience include environmental groups such as the School Climate Strikes Network and Extinction Rebellion. The guidance will also impact care for transgender students: teaching advice on gender released with the guidance uses language clearly designed to appease trans-exclusionary reactionary movements. It does not include any material on how to positively support trans students in Sex and Relationships education: instead, it only focuses on what not to do, using language that could mislead some teachers into thinking they should not support trans students’ stated identities and needs. Just as the guidance shows concerning censorship of education about politics, it also risks censoring trans lives in a way very reminiscent of Section 28.

Stoking up fear about anti-racist political movements while at the same time scaremongering about gender is a hallmark of fascist ideology, which seeks to eliminate all threats to the supremacy of the white nuclear family.” tweet this

Stoking up fear about anti-racist political movements while at the same time scaremongering about gender is a hallmark of fascist ideology, which seeks to eliminate all threats to the supremacy of the white nuclear family. We will not accept an education system designed on these terms, and will resist it every way we can.

STATEMENT: Examination u-turns, teacher assessment and Black students

Authors: Black Educators Alliance

Generations of activists and academics have sought to highlight the reality that teacher assessment, underpinned by deficit theorising and racial bias continues to have a negative impact on black students’ achievement and attainment.

As soon as schools, colleges and universities were impacted by Covid-19 and subsequent government lockdown, BEA have highlighted concerns regarding bias in teacher assessment, and its potential impact upon examination and attainment. These concerns were raised directly to the NEU and Ofqual by BEA members, a petition was launched and subsequently our serious concerns taken to other spaces.

With the publications of numerous reports and reviews over many years; such as, the Lammy Review (2017) and the Runnymede Report (2017); including the inequalities exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic; and subsequent anti-racism and social justice movements, we have all continued to build upon these concerns, alongside highlighting the systemic and institutional flaws within our education system, which disproportionately impact Black students, teachers and wider communities.

We are committed to fighting to transform our education system to ensure that all students have equitable opportunities and outcomes, and remain deeply concerned that the inherent bias in teacher assessment is likely to further impact examinations, outcomes and future aspirations of Black students in these unprecedented times.

Significant research already suggests that disadvantaged students are disproportionately affected by the UK Government and OFQUAL’s damaging approaches to examination moderation, which through continued protests by young people across the country, has resulted in their reliance upon teacher assessment.

We stand with all students affected by the damaging effects of this examination crisis, and remain concerned by the long term effects for their next steps, whether in employment, education or training. 

Black students must already navigate a myriad of barriers and forms of racial and cultural discrimination throughout  their academic journeys, and are likely to bear the brunt of structural and institutional disparities, even when deemed to be better than the systemic alternatives.

Therefore, BEA calls upon the National Education Union (NEU) to:

  1. Produce guidance which acknowledges and challenges teachers’ racial and cultural bias in teacher assessment;
  2. Undertake a full and comprehensive investigation into this matter;
  3. Develop immediate and specific support for Black students regarding examination appeal processes and institutional teacher assessment.

ARTICLE: Raising the bar

See the source image

Author: Shagufta Khan

We are living in times of change, where the norm has been challenged and going backwards is no longer an option.  At the start of the year, no one could have imagined the events that would unfold and change the lives of so many.  The Black community has been at the forefront of these changes from the high numbers that been affected by the Coronavirus to the unveiling of the institutionalised racism that has dominated society.  But now we are moving towards a new normal; doors have been opened for our children and young people, to find a place in the world and aspire to be whoever they desire.    

Reading about the recent success of Raffia Arshad, who has become the first hijab wearing Deputy District Judge on the Midlands circuit, was an exhilarating moment! She is an inspiration to Muslim women in the UK and proof that dreams can be fulfilled! Raffia worked as a Barrister for around 15 years, specialising in private law, financial remedy, forced marriage, FGM and court of protection.  All this success has not come without the hurdles of discrimination faced along the way, mostly from people’s assumptions of her position. 

She describes her experiences of being mistaken for a client or interpreter by the usher in court! As a Muslim educator, wearing a hijab, I have also faced similar discrimination and remember clearly an incident where a professional, assumed I was the TA and not the teacher.  It was an awkward situation for everyone concerned! Society is quick to make assumptions of Muslim women.  In recent years, there has been a rise in Islamophobia with around 50% of religious hate crime being targeted at Muslims.  Women make up the majority of this figure!  So, what does the future hold for our young people?

Hopefully change! As Black educators, we are the role models to bring about this change and unlock doors that have been closed for far too long.  Raffia Arshad is a prime example of this change in breaking down barriers of discrimination. Our young people deserve a bright future so now is the time to raise the bar and help them fulfil their dreams.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Families, communties & students

Introduction

The results of the BEA survey on ‘Summer 2020 exams and assessment: Parental support and guidance research questions’ has formed the basis for these FAQs (frequently asked questions).

Please circulate this document as widely as possible with your networks, contacts and communties to enable black parents and carers to be able to make informed decisions regarding the education and welfare of their child. 

Last updated: 29 July 2020

Challenging GCSE/A levels grades  

  1. How do I find out about my child’s predicted GCSE/A level grades? 

It is essential that parents and carers are kept up to date with their child’s/children’s progress and predicted grades. These records are updated throughout the academic year and are accessible to parents and carers upon request. Email your child’s/children’s school, college or centre to request a copy of their progress report as soon as possible if you do not already have this information. 

  1. How do I challenge the GCSE/A level grades given by my child/children’s education setting? 

There is no current direct appeal process in place to challenge grades. This which means that pupils will not be able to challenge their GCSE/A-level results if they disagree with the result they have been given. The only proposed way of appeal is for schools, colleges and centres to challenge the equality measures and the procedure of the exam boards. The Government is still consulting on determining a final appeals process. 

  1. What if my child is home educated? 

Home schooled students or those on distance learning programmes will need to have been entered for their exams at a school or an exam centre as a ‘private candidate’. These students should also be provided a calculated grade but the centre must be confident they have seen enough evidence of the students’ progress. This may require you to provide evidence of work completed at home or with a tutor.

4. How do I express my concerns about my child/children’s education to the school/education setting? 

Parents and carers have the right to express any concerns they may have about their children’s emotional and academic wellbeing to their school or educational setting. This must be done via a telephone call and most importantly an initial or follow up email. 

  1. If my child is taking a vocational qualification, how will the grades be calculated? 

The guidance for vocational qualifications has changed this year. Further information can be found here: 

Contacting school/educational setting  

  1. How do I express my concerns about my child/children’s education to the school/education setting? 

It is a very concerning time for parents/carers and all concerned especially with the changes to examinations and schools opening.  Schools and educational settings will be prepared to support your child/children back after school closures.  It is really important that you share your concerns with your school/educational setting as soon as possible.  You can do this through email or letter and may be able to organise a meeting with the head of department of headteacher.     

  1. I am concerned about my child going back to school, can I keep them home? 

In order for schools to open, the National Education Union has suggested that schools pass the 5 tests that have been set for schools and education settings. These tests include: 

  • Lower number of Covid-19 cases; 
  • A national plan for social distancing;
  • Testing facilities in place for the school/education community including children, parents/carers and staff. 
  • Whole school strategy if/when a case occurs;
  • Protection for the vulnerable;

Government guidance can be found here. Your school/education setting must have a risk assessment in place to explain how the risks will be managed and how your child/children will be protected.  You can ask to see the risk assessment to see what measures are in place. 

**** The UK government has announced that if you choose to keep your child at home, you CAN BE FINED – it is important that you speak with the school/education setting regarding this.

Your school/education setting will have a risk assessment in place to explain how the risks will be managed and how your child/children will be protected.  You can ask to see the risk assessment to see what measures are in place.  We have also included a model letter for parents which can be used to get a clearer picture of what your child classroom will look like if you plan on sending your child back to school. 

Special Educational Needs (SEN) 

  1. If my child has Special Educational Needs (SEN), how do I get support at home and should my child have a risk assessment before they begin school? 

The DFE (Department for Education) states that any child who is SEN), has an Education Healthcare Plan (EHC) or is supported by social services is classified as vulnerable so schools and educational settings will have individual risk assessments for these children. 

These risk assessments should be shared with you before your child/children start school. Your child/children may be offered a place in the school/education setting and you should have regular contact too. If you have concerns, please contact your school or educational setting as soon as possible.  

  1. If my child has an Education Healthcare Plan (EHC) what protocol should I follow? 

If your child/children has an EHC plan, they are classified as ‘vulnerable’ by the DFE (Department for Education). This means that schools and education settings will be contact to support you.  If your EHC plan has not been completed, you can contact your school/education setting and ask the school SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) to complete it with you.

Your child/children may be offered a place in the school/education setting once an individual risk assessment has been completed.  The EHC means that your child will get the support they need. If you are concerned about the plan you can appeal it. 

Here is a link to the Government pages with with further information

Vulnerable families  

  1. If anyone in my household has an underlying health condition, should my child attend school? 

The government guidance has changed for families who are extremely vulnerable and clinically vulnerable and this can be found in these Government pages.

Although the death rates in the UK are lower, they are still higher than other countries in Europe, so many are cautious before choosing to send their child back to school. It is really important that you read the risk assessment for your school/education setting and also speak to your GP to get further advice. 

Please be aware that a recent report published in June 2020 by public health England and has found that people from black backgrounds have higher rates of diagnosis and death.

The full report can be found here

Resources  

  1. Where can I find online educational resources for my child/children to use at home? 

Your child/children’s school should have provided work packs or online resources for your child/children to access. If they have not, please contact your school to ask about these resources. They may be links on the school website. 

If you would like additional resources, here is a list of useful online resources you could access from home. Often you do not need to worry about printing resources and can work directly from the device. 

  1. How do I support my child/children’s learning without an internet connection? 

Local authorities and academy trusts will own the laptops and tablets they receive, and loan them to children and young people. You may or may not be aware that the government has specific programs offering individuals that have low income a free laptop. The question is, are you eligible to receive one?

The only way to find out is to call or get in touch with the website  Benefits dot gov and they will assist you in finding out whether or not you meet the eligibility requirements for your own state to become a laptop beneficiary. 

PCs For People is a nonprofit organization that gives away free refurbished laptops for those that need it the most. Qualified recipients can get laptops that are complimentary.

This organization donates computers that have Windows 10 licensed copies since it is a refurbishing organization registered with Microsoft. All you need to do is to get on their website and see if you meet their eligibility requirements to get a laptop for free.

The best part is that this organization even offers free unlimited internet plan for eligible applicants. Make sure you look at the list and see if you can avail of free internet from this organization. 

Supporting children/young people’s mental wellbeing at home

  1. How do I support my child/children’s emotional well-being at home and on their return to school? 

Being involved in the Covid-19 pandemic or any other any other serious incident can make children/young people feel overwhelmed, stressed or vulnerable. They may experience traumatic stress as normal life begins, so may display a range of emotions in response to this.  It is really important that they feel supported during this time and aim to keep communicating how they are feeling.  

Here are some help guides to enable you to support your child at home.  There are a range of strategies you could use and it all depends on what works well with your child/children.   If you feel very concerned about your child/children’s wellbeing, please speak to your GP as soon as possible. 

It is important to practise Relaxation, Deep breathing, Exercising, eat Healthy Food Sleep and Rest 

BEA Zoom Event : What next for Black educators? – Wed 1 July 2020 @ 6pm (Zoom Meeting)

Meeting details:

Details: Zoom Link
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5058059832… 

Meeting ID: 505 805 932

Password: 3fYSaW

Panel

Camille London-Miyo – Senior leader and activist, BEA Steering Group member
Tokunbo Sode – Teacher and BEA member
Paramjeet Singh Bhogal– Executive member of the National Education Union (NEU)
Nalini Amichund– Teacher and BEA member
Chuma Akuchie – Teacher and member of No More Exclusions

Format

To be updated.

MEMBER: Ivy Scott

LONDON NEU Black Organising Forum Officer, Founder Black Educators East London.

Retired Assistant Headteacher, Head of Inclusion and SENCO Post 19 Educator.

Ivy has an MA in school effectiveness, school improvement. Her thesis focused on Black Boys. Ivy has published work on EAL assessment, Caribbean Language and dialect. Ivy is also a researcher and Member of Windrush Suffolk Past Ambassador for Bernie Grant Project.

She is the co-author and editor of Breaking the chains : The Journey to Abolition, a KS2 and KS3 Education Resource Pack.

COVID-19: Developing Resilience – A guide for education leaders

Author: Paramjeet Singh Bhopal

This document has been produced by Newcastle Educational Psychology Service to help school/settings leaders in response to them opening.

The document uses evidence based approaches to support the Wellbeing and Resilience of all (educators, children and parents/carers).

OPINION: How many reviews do we really need?

Author: Lana Crosbie

How many reviews do we need before Black Lives Matter enough? When will we accept the systemic oppression and inequality is not the product of a broken system, very much the opposite. They are the products of a system designed to do exactly what it does.

Absolute power to the status quo, privilege offered to the members of the superior race and class.  The Macpherson report (1999). The Lammy review (2017). NEU Barriers report (2019). The Timpson review (2019). The Fenton review (2020). There have been countless other data gathering exercises, where are we? Where my dad was when he, landed from Jamaica during the Windrush era, that’s where. It could be argued certain narratives are no longer part of acceptable vernacular…..publicly that is! 

No dogs No Blacks No Irish……No n*ggers allowed?

These signs to the white liberals are abhorrent and they rage publicly and privately and have what they believe are meaningful discussions about how disgusting this is. Yet those same individuals, where are your battle scars, do you stand shoulder to shoulder with me through this battle, no, you discuss at home, over diner perhaps, how terrible it all is and go about your day, knowing tomorrow you will do what you have always done. Live your life without judgement or question.

You wont think about where you shop, with whom you speak with that day, you wont worry about your children being stopped and searched. You won’t give a second thought to their experiences at school, why should you, its never been an issue. You have that privilege, I don’t!   When they come home and may say ‘Sarah called me stupid’ you’ll reply, ‘Just ignore it’, or ‘Sticks and stones may break your bones………..Let me tell you words do hurt! They hurt a great deal. Words define who we are, mother, daughter, wife, brother, son……….Black. There are no words to describe the agony that comes with being defined as non grata because you are Black. That pain still exists.  That is the problem.

That is why George Floyd, Rodney King, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Stephen Lawrence, Mark Duggan, Shane Bryant, Darren Cumberbatch, Rashan Charles, Edson La Costa……..the list goes on, too extensive to cover. Black Lives Matter because whiteness has stifled our voices for too long, subjugated our existence, created monuments to celebrate a ‘whitewashed’ history. The work starts now, let’s talk about Whiteness not Blackness, lets acknowledge and dismantle the culture and systems that have been built to support Whiteness.

Black Lives matter because, in truth, until Black Lives matters the All lives Matter statement is a lie and as we as Black people have always known….Black lives have not always mattered.

  1. The disproportionate stop and search 
  2. The disproportionate number of children from Black backgrounds experiencing school exclusions/isolations. 
  3. The disproportionate number of Black people the prison population across the globe.  
  4. The disproportionate number of Black children not chosen to be adopted/fostered. 
  5. The disproportionate impact of Covid-19
  6. The disproportionate number of Black people in senior positions. 

Visualizing racism: Nine photographers take on the challenge of ...

These statements are norm, not the exception.  This work requires reflectivity, decentration and a strong challenge to white fragility. The defences will come hard and swift,’ I’m not a racist’ ‘Oh not this again, I don’t need this’. ‘You are the racist’ ‘If you don’t like it, leave’. We know what is to come, White people need to, If they truly want to show they believe Black Lives Matter, formulate a different action. 

We don’t want tears, sympathy, or optical allyship. We need White people to come to terms with their own privilege, acknowledge it, own it and work to actively change the Status quo.

Feel the guilt, the shame, feel uncomfortable with the realisation of change.  When Black people are finally free, then all people will be free, until this happens I will raise my placard, walk the protests, speak my truth in every place I am and say loud and proud Black Lives Matter.

PERIOD!

NME & NEU: Exclusions & Race: Wed 10 June 2020, 4.30-6pm (Zoom Meeting)

New guidelines for use during the COVID Crisis are out. What happened to the Govt. review of race and exclusions?

Link to registration: https://bit.ly/3gVAN6r (opens in new window)

Speakers:
Joan Hall – Education Advocate
Aaliyah York – Founder of Pupil Power
Marguerite Haye – SEND Consultant, NEU member
Zahra Bei – Founder of NME and NEU member
Alex Temple – Just for Kids Law – Exclusions Lawyer