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Cotham School

Developing Racial Literacy

In July 2019, the senior leadership team launched Unconscious Bias training with all staff.  This training included the latest research on the impact of unconscious bias on attainment as well as the role ‘white privilege’ plays in how white staff and students are able to navigate the world and indeed education with less challenges. We addressed how the research evidence looks at how unconscious bias impacts BAME students in a number of ways including: teacher expectations and grade bias; use of ‘over-praise’ due to stereotypes; labelling and self-fulfilling prophecies; identity economics and confirmation bias.  Using this research, the training included how to actively move from a ‘colour-blindness’ approach to a ‘colour-conscious’ approach evidenced from a move to including and celebrating the positive societal contributions from BAME people in all aspects of school life.  This training was also informed by ‘student voice’ which saw students asking for more opportunities to talk about race, identity, black achievement, black history and local/national news events that are related to race such as the BLM movement and others.  The training served as the launch for the further training, initiatives and actions that have continued to grow, develop and improve over the course of these past two years.  This emphasis on tackling unconscious bias further informed our Teaching and Learning strategy, the decolonising of the curriculum and further leadership training focusing on race identity and anti-racism.  This unconscious bias training continues to be delivered to all new staff as the main part of our New Staff Induction programme as well as all training for Initial Teacher Trainees working with us from various teacher training programmes.

The focus of staff development in this area now is to work on their racial literacy in order to confidently address issues of race with students, teach a more diverse and decolonised curriculum, and be able to address incidents of discrimination and inequality that might occur.