Educators welcome Stephen Lawrence Research Centre's work to transform our education system


Dozens of headteachers, fellow education leaders and guests from across the UK have come together at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) to celebrate 'racial literacy' work which is enhancing teaching practices so that all children have a fair chance to thrive in education.

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Panel members from the Teaching to Transform event

Since 2019, DMU’s Stephen Lawrence Research Centre (SLRC) has embarked on an Anti-Racist Educator Pathway, offering teachers courses in racial literacy to embrace inclusive teaching practices that recognise and challenge racism in schools and have an impact on making society more equal.

The event was also an opportunity to discuss initial findings of a report called ‘Racial Literacy: Teaching to Transform our Education System’ which is an evaluation of the pioneering work being undertaken by the SLRC in this field.

A full report will be published in 2024 with the intention of helping to start important conversations about a national strategy to develop racial literacy in all schools and improve diversity in education.

The SLRC is also calling on racial literacy to be taught in teacher training as well as the Continuing Professional Development training for existing teachers.

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Dr Amanda Arbouin presents her executive summary

Report lead-author Dr Amanda Arbouin, an expert in race in education, said that something special was happening at DMU and the SLRC and Leicester was the perfect location to share the findings of her executive summary.

Dr Arbouin said: “DMU is home to the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre, the report has been published by the centre, and Leicester is something of a hub of anti-racist activity - and has been for a number of years.

“The term ‘racial literacy’ was coined in this city and DMU is the first university in the UK to achieve the Race Equality Charter Silver Award.

“In the last census, Leicester was also one of the first cities to have more than 50 per cent of people from minority backgrounds – so it is one of the first super diverse cities in the UK.

“So, the fact the report has been researched here, the work has been done in schools here, the training and initiatives have been done here and the report is being published here is all really significant.”

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Keynote speaker Lavinya Stennett

Dr Lisa Palmer, Associate Professor and Interim Director of the SLRC, said she would like to see racial literacy in all teacher training: “Today has been phenomenal. We planned this event so that we could bring together educators, education leaders and teaching groups from across the city and county who have been working with the SLRC and to give some recognition to the work they are doing.

“We called the conference Charting the Journey because this is just the start really. We must now look at how racial literacy connects with the curriculum- and discuss ways to decolonise school curriculums. .

“So, we need to work with all teachers to look at and understand racial literacy and new ways of educating.”

Natasha Boyce, an educational consultant for the LiFE Multi-academy Trust in Leicester and Leicestershire, has been a supporter of the SLRC’s racial literacy initiative since its inception.

She said: “This event has been awesome and captured the impact the SLRC has had across the city and county. It is a landmark, looking back at the changes and the impact the work has had on so many teachers and hundreds of pupils.

“Every school has a strong moral compass and every school has a duty of care to all children to be psychologically safe in every classroom. This is impossible to do without being racially literate – to understand the issues that our children experience at school.

“When we think of Leicester as being 57% global majority we really need to talk about racial literacy and empower all teachers to meet the needs of all children entering their classrooms.

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DMU DVC Richard Greene welcomes the delegates to the event

“The SLRC is such a gift to DMU because DMU is raising the aspirations of so many people in the local community and giving them access to cutting edge research.”

Keynote speaker Lavinya Stennett is founder of The Black Curriculum a social enterprise addressing the lack of Black British history in the national curriculum. During her talk, Lavinya stressed the importance of racial literacy ‘coming from the top’ as well as the need to challenge racism in schools and give students a voice.

She said after the event: “I thought it was awesome to see so many teachers here and it was great to hear the work and progress the SLRC has made. It has been inspiring to see that we are all working towards the same goal.”

The Racial Literacy: Teaching to Transform our Education System executive summary has been written by Dr Arbouin with Camille London-Miyo, a doctoral researcher at DMU looking into Black teachers navigating the dynamics of racism in Leicester Schools.

Posted on Monday 30th October 2023

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