The Citizens’ Tribunal met in an open meeting with Ealing Council, and Ealing Learning Partnership (ELP) on Wednesday 5 July, to discuss how the borough intends to take action to tackle the impact of racial inequality in Ealing’s schools.
This is the second in a series of six meetings aimed at tackling inequalities, each focusing on a different priority, from health, education, income and employment, participation and democracy, housing and policing.
The meeting was hosted by Denise Charles, chair of the Citizens’ Tribunal, and education sub-group chair Rosalind Lord. Also in attendance were other members of the sub- group, Munir Abbasi, Stephanie Ajayi, Rosita Caspersz and Sharmarke Diriye. They were joined by educational specialists, teachers, and Ealing Council’s director of learning standards and schools’ partnership Julie Lewis, and the school partnerships lead, Sarah Thompson.
“Ensuring every child has the opportunity to thrive”
Councillor Kamaljit Nagpal, cabinet member for a fairer start, and Councillor Jasbir Anand, cabinet member for tackling inequalities were also present.
Councillor Nagpal said: “An important part of the children in our borough having the best start in life, is having access to high quality teaching and resources. The work of the Citizens’ Tribunal to address the inequalities in education that some experience is vital to ensuring every child, regardless of their background has the opportunity to thrive.”
The meeting was a live event, with attendees participating online. Attendees had the opportunity to put questions to the panel of tribunal members and educational specialist. The discussion focussed on curriculum, anti-racist initiatives and progress in Ealing’s schools.
“We are committed to delivering on the demands of the Ealing Race Equality Commission.”
Rosalind Lord introduced the priorities and findings of the sub-group, saying: “We want to emphasise; it is not the Black Caribbean pupils who are under achieving, they are being under-served by policies and processes that are happening in the education system.
“We are committed to delivering on the demands of the Ealing Race Equality Commission”, she continued, “holding Ealing, and Ealing Learning Partnership to account, with results that are measurable. Changes in attitudes must happen first, along with a commitment to race equality training being part of the curriculum training.”
The discussion focused on the Ealing Race Equality Commission’s (EREC) demands for education, and the actions being taken to close the gap in attainment for Black Caribbean pupils.
Ambitions and focus
The citizens’ tribunal have been working closely with Ealing Learning Partnership to put the changes into place. Their ambitions and focus are on the demands set out by the EREC which include closing the gap in attainment for Black Caribbean pupils; ending the disproportionate rate of exclusions; accelerating changes to the curriculum; training on unconscious bias for all school staff; empowering parents to play a more active role in children’s education and increasing the number of black teachers in leadership roles.
Officers from the council, along with Headteacher representatives, outlined the progress that has been made against each of the EREC’s demands and highlighted areas for further development.
They reported that progress had been made in terms of school engagement with the programme – 66% of schools had been actively involved during the year – and more than 1000 staff had participated in training. 70% of Ealing schools now have a lead staff member for Race and Diversity.
A new approach to behaviour within schools – Therapeutic Thinking – was being rolled out with the aim of reducing the disproportionate rate of suspensions and exclusions. Schools had participated in new training designed to ensure an aspirational representation of Black history and the contributions of the Black community within the curriculum.
And a new Parent Representative Forum had been set up to harness the knowledge and expertise of leading community advocates to inform the race equality in education programme.
Areas for development during 2023-24 were highlighted including increasing the level of school engagement in training; new training for school governors; increasing the number of Black parent forums in schools; improved sharing of good practice between schools and raising the profile of the race equality programme with parents.
“Partnership work will help us progress further”
Cabinet member for tackling inequality, councillor Jasbir Anand commented on the evening: “It has been fantastic listening to what has been happening since October 2022, and having the opportunity to respond to some searching questions from the audience.
“I want to thank everyone for contributing and sharing their perspective on education in our borough. By really listening to some of the issues that are coming out in inequalities, and listening to our professionals who address those issues and are really trying to drive them forward we can make the changes we need to see. It is not always easy to make that change, but we are here to make it happen. But a lot of work still needs to happen and it’s clear that partnership work will really help us to progress further.”
Tribunal chair Denise Charles closed the evening, thanking the tribunal members for the progress, time and work they have done so far, saying: “I would like to say a big thank you to everyone, especially the audience for sending your questions in and we will read through them all and find a way to answer questions that have been posed in the chat. I would like to thank my fellow citizen tribunal members, especially for all the work they have done; especially on this priority.”
The tribunal aims to hear peoples’ views and feedback, as they continue their assessment of the EREC’s priorities, with further conversations: covering themes of income and employment, participation and democracy, housing and policing.
To take part in this important conversation, look out for dates to be announced on the next meetings of the Citizens’ Tribunal, find out more on the do something good website.