DMU's Stephen Lawrence Research Centre teams up with city council to provide better opportunities for underachieving pupils

A training and research programme to help city schools address social challenges and create better opportunities for underachieving pupils has been launched at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

The Stephen Lawrence Research Centre (SLRC) at DMU is running the programme in partnership with Leicester City Council (LCC). 

SLRC teaching main

SLRC and LCC educators met at DMU this week

It will involve more than 30 school leaders, representing all of the city’s mainstream secondary schools, taking part in racial literacy training this spring and summer. 

Work on the project dates back to October 2019, when an LCC-led task group reported on its findings about the groups that were consistently underperforming at school. 

Its report – The Underachievement of Black Caribbean and White Working Class Pupils of Secondary Age in Leicester – made a number of recommendations for the council as well as for schools.

Now, as schools return to normal after the pandemic, a new task group – comprising key partners and chaired by Councillor George Cole, who also carries out official duties as the Lord Mayor of Leicester – is implementing those recommendations.

SLRC teaching George

Coun Cole is interviewed at the SLRC exhibition

The SLRC is developing and delivering a racial literacy training programme for the city’s key educators which LCC hopes will provide better opportunities for Leicester’s underperforming groups to succeed.

Task group member and Assistant City Mayor for Education Coun Elly Cutkelvin said: “The launch of the racial literacy training programme is the result of the strengthening partnership between the SLRC, the city council and the city’s schools – and it’s an initiative that we’ve been working on together for some time.

“What we all want to achieve is the best possible outcome for all of our young people, whatever their background. And what this training seeks to do is to enhance teaching and learning practices at city schools so that educators feel better able to support, and engage with, every one of their students.

“I’m very pleased that this training programme is now ready to launch and we look forward to working with the SLRC to develop and deliver the initiative.”

Dr Lisa Palmer, associate professor and interim director of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre, said: “The SLRC’s mission is to work closely with local educators to address the societal inequalities faced by students and educators, and to respond with constructive action that can make real and positive difference in people’s lives.

“We are very excited to be working with local educators and Leicester City Council to embark upon this programme of Racial Literacy training. The programme begins as we mark the 30th anniversary of the tragic murder of Stephen Lawrence so I think this initiative is a great way to honour Stephen’s memory and legacy.”

SLRC teaching centre tour

SLRC Legacy in Action Fellow Dr Yusef Bakkali shows teachers round the centre 

Coun George Cole, who delivered a speech at the launch, said: “This programme is designed to give all pupils in Leicester of all races and abilities the opportunity to feel themselves as equals in the classroom and to become the best versions of themselves.

“It is up to the educators in Leicester to help create a better society and better outcomes for our children and for the generations to come.”

Rob Howell, Head of Religious Studies at Judgemeadow Community College, said: “I see it as my, and educators’, responsibility to show pupils there are chances to be successful, show them what ‘successful’ looks like and give them the voice to challenge and be recognised.

“Education is moving in the right direction. However, what we need to see is that this momentum continues. We need to ensure staff have the right tools to carry that momentum.”

Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death in 1993 in a racially-motivated attack and the Lawrence family's long fight for justice brought about cultural changes in attitudes of racism and the police and led to changes in the law.

Stephen’s mother Baroness Lawrence is a previous Chancellor of DMU and officially opened the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre at DMU in 2019, saying she wanted the centre to be a place where national conversations on race and social justice should start.

You can read more about the centre here

Posted on Thursday 26th January 2023

  Search news archive