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How to weave anti-racism into every classroom

28 May 2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of education, staying committed to fostering an inclusive environment is not just a moral imperative but a key component of effective teaching to enable all students to thrive.

At Havant and South Downs College, we are taking active steps to being anti-racist by embedding anti-racism into our curriculum and our college. We're breaking down barriers and reshaping our curriculum to weave anti-racism seamlessly into every classroom.

See it, to be it

Representation is not a mere checkbox; it's a compass guiding us towards inclusivity. As part of our commitment, we encourage our teachers to adopt a 'see it, to be it' approach, incorporating diverse perspectives and role models into their curriculum. We are reviewing individual curriculum resources, ensuring they reflect the diversity of our world. We utilise time on our planned development days throughout the year to support our teaching teams to develop their resources, schemes of work and to explore how they can develop their teaching environments to be more inclusive.

We are also working with our curriculum teams to identify diverse guest speakers, adopt inclusive language, and seeking to showcase the achievements of people from various ethnic backgrounds, fostering a classroom where every student feels seen, safe, and valued. We want to ensure that our education is rich and gives many perspectives for students to consider.

We have had the privilege of some fantastic guest speakers including most recently Rt Hon Dr Stuart Lawrence who spoke eloquently about how we can make change happen, which starts with education and exploring different perspectives.

Engaging student and staff voice

In one of our classes, a student noticed that the images presented about her home country did not align with her personal experiences. The student voiced her perspective, prompting our dedicated teacher to embark on additional research. The goal was to explore alternative materials and incorporate diverse viewpoints, enhancing the lesson for a more accurate and inclusive representation.

Whilst this student felt comfortable and able to speak out, many may not and so we need to ensure that we enable students to share their experiences to inform our journey, from their perspective. We undertook a survey with both students and staff about their experiences at college, with some specific questions around diversity within the curriculum and how effectively the college deals with matters of equity and inclusion. Engagement with the survey was good and gave us a real insight into what we are doing well and areas where we need to do more to break down barriers enabling us to identify clear actions.

In the pursuit of an anti-racist educational environment, the cornerstone of our success lies in identifying and nurturing champions within our teams. These champions are not merely advocates; they are the driving force of our journey. Committed to dismantling barriers and fostering inclusivity, they embody the change we seek. These individuals possess a deep understanding of the transformative power of education and actively champion anti-racism initiatives within our college. Some of them are appointed into our equity and inclusion lead roles and others are just passionate about inclusivity and breaking down barriers. Both are essential to the work we have undertaken to date and continue to do moving forward.

Measuring results and impact

In our journey towards an anti-racist educational environment, measuring results and impact is a crucial aspect of our action plan. We've implemented robust evaluation mechanisms to assess the outcomes of our initiatives. Regular assessments gauge changes in curriculum planning, individual resources, and learning environments, providing valuable insights into our progress.

By analysing data and statistics, we gain a comprehensive understanding of the effectiveness of our efforts, ensuring that our curriculum is not only inclusive but also fostering a positive impact on student engagement and success. Our action plan is not just a roadmap; it's a dynamic tool guiding us towards measurable, meaningful change in creating a more equitable and anti-racist educational experience.

Our journey isn't just about shaping a curriculum; it's about shaping a future where every student feels seen, safe, and valued and thus enabling them to successfully complete their studies and achieve to the best of their ability. Maya Angelou once said “do the best you can until you better. Then when you know better, do better”. Our journey at HSDC continues, and as we learn and grow, we are determined to do better, not tomorrow, but today.

Leona Berry is the Vice Principal – Organisational Development and People at Havant and South Downs College (HSDC)