Wales is an established multicultural society where individuals from diverse ethnic backgrounds learn together and from one another. Education professionals should therefore understand and appreciate the value of different experiences, cultures and backgrounds and must ensure that learners, young people and colleagues are never disadvantaged or discriminated against as a result of their race, ethnicity or religion.
All learners in Wales should feel confident that they will be safe, supported and treated with fairness and respect when they attend their place of learning. It is therefore essential that you, as an Education Workforce Council (EWC) registrant, ensure that your behaviours and practice are inclusive and create an environment where learners, young people and colleagues (as well as parents, guardians and members of the wider community) feel welcome regardless of their race or ethnicity. Where racist incidents do occur, you must deal with these appropriately and effectively, with empathy and compassion.
This guide which has been endorsed by Show Racism the Red Card and BAMEed Network Wales, aims to support all registered education practitioners in identifying and addressing issues of racism, in line with the responsibilities that are set out within the EWC’s Code of Professional Conduct and Practice. It cannot address all possible circumstances and is not intended to be an exhaustive list of behaviours. The guide is also not intended as a replacement for training and professional development around the issues that are covered. However, it is provided to highlight the importance of addressing issues of racism and of promoting inclusion, equality and diversity within your setting and includes guidance on:
- compliance with the Code of Professional Conduct and Practice; and
- steps you can take to address racism and promote equality including:
- creating an inclusive environment;
- being informed;
- guarding against bias;
- identifying racist behaviour;
- acting against discrimination, harassment and victimisation; and
- ensuring that racist incidents are recorded and reported.
The guidance can also help practitioners to comply with the requirements of the Equality Act 2020 and the Public Sector Equality Duty.
The Public Sector Equality Duty
Listed bodies (under the Equality Act 2010) in Wales, including schools and FE colleges are required to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty in exercising their functions, including in having due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct that is prohibited by the Act. They are also required to have regard to advancing equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic (including their race and religion) and those who do not and fostering good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
All EWC registrants are subject to the Code of Professional Conduct and Practice (the Code), which sets out the key principles of good conduct and practice for registrants. This guidance should therefore be read in conjunction with the Code.
The principles and expectations in the Code which are relevant to dealing with issues of equality, diversity and racism are:
1. Personal and Professional Responsibility
- recognise their personal responsibility as a role model and public figure, to uphold public trust and confidence in the education professions, both in and out of the workplace;
- conduct relationships with learners professionally by;
- contributing to the creation of a fair and inclusive learning environment by addressing discrimination, stereotyping and bullying;
- engage with learners to encourage confidence, empowerment, educational and personal development;
- have a duty of care for learners’ safety, physical, social, moral and educational well-being;
- acting on anything which might put a learner’s safety or welfare at risk;
- reporting any safeguarding issue, or any other issue which may potentially harm a learner’s safety or welfare.
- demonstrate a commitment to equality and diversity.
Steps you can take to tackle racism, promote equality and foster good relations
It is important to ensure that all learners, young people and colleagues feel safe, valued and respected. Our places of learning should also be welcoming for parents, guardians and the wider community. You can support this by working to promote a whole school/whole organisation approach that creates an environment that is inclusive, explores and values diversity and is robustly anti-racist.
As an education professional, you should be a positive role model for learners and young people. Through modelling anti-racist behaviours and demonstrating positive attitudes towards equality and diversity, you can help learners and young people understand different views, perspectives and lived experiences.
Use language and behaviour that is inclusive and non-biased. Try to use examples that reflect a broad range of identities and perspectives in all aspects of your role. Incorporating diverse voices and influences within your practice will help learners and young people develop a better understanding and appreciation of different experiences and perspectives.
In order to confidently challenge stereotypes and prejudice it is important to be aware of, and provide accurate information and to challenge prejudiced narratives.
Do not expect people from other backgrounds to educate you. Take responsibility for educating yourself about cultural and religious practices other than your own – learn about the experiences of racialised people living in Wales and the impact of race in the classroom. Also be aware of current events, particularly ones that may be racially charged and be ready to constructively discuss them with learners and young people. This will help you to confront prejudice with more confidence and with the view to re-educating others.
In educating yourself, you should be careful to ensure that you use reliable and accurate sources of information and also know where and how to access further support if you need it.
A list of links to organisations and resources that will be able to provide you with help and information relating to these matters is provided at the end of this document.
It’s also important to ensure that you’re familiar with your employer’s policies. These may include equality and diversity policies, anti-bullying policies and others. In addition, all schools and FE colleges are required to have a Strategic Equality Plan.
It is important to be aware of your own attitudes and stereotypes in relation to different groups of people and to understand how bias (conscious or unconscious) can impact on your actions and decisions, and potentially cause discrimination. Above all, you should remember that learners, young people and colleagues from all backgrounds are individuals with highly complex identities. Ethnicity is just one dimension of these identities alongside a range of other factors including gender, sex, sexuality, disability, social class and religion or belief.
To help guard against bias:
- reflect on your own attitudes and behaviours. Learn to be aware of any biases and prejudices that you may have and work to challenge them; and
- have the courage to challenge bias demonstrated by others.
It is essential to ensure that responsibility for challenging racism should not fall on those who are its victims. It is therefore important to ensure that you able to identify, and develop effective approaches to address, racist behaviour.
The 1999 Macpherson report into the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence (in London in 1993) defined a racist incident as: ‘any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person’. Examples of such behaviours might therefore include:
- name calling, using racially offensive language or language reflecting stereotypes about ethnicity;
- making racist jokes;
- ridiculing someone’s religious customs or traditions;
- physical behaviour motivated by prejudice against someone's ethnicity or perceived ethnicity, such as hitting, tripping, pushing or kicking;
- excluding other learners, young people or colleagues from joining in with conversations or activities because of their ethnicity or perceived ethnicity;
- microaggressions or gaslighting, which trivialise experiences of racism;
- graffiti that targets individuals or groups on the basis of their ethnicity; and
It is important to realise that racial incidents often do not involve direct racial slurs and often occur in the form of other kinds of intimidating behaviour (that are motivated by racial prejudice).
It is important that you feel confident about challenging discrimination wherever you see it, whether this is from learners, young people or colleagues. As a professional, you can make a positive difference by speaking out and addressing inappropriate behaviour.
When challenging racism you should:
Challenge attitudes and behaviour, rather than individuals
It is important to challenge behaviour in a way that avoids making others feel defensive. Encourage learners, young people and colleagues who have acted in a discriminatory manner to reflect on their behaviour and its impact. Focus on changing behaviour and attitudes, not blaming and shaming.
Examples of questions you could ask learners, young people and colleagues to help them reflect on their behaviour include:
- What were your thoughts at the time?
- Were you aware that what you said sounds racist and could hurt someone?
- What have been your thoughts since? Have you considered that this language is racist?
- Who has been affected by what happened?
- How have they been affected?
- What do you need to happen now? Do you need more information about racism and how it affects people?
Provide accurate information and challenge stereotypes and biases
Providing accurate information about cultural and religious groups will help to dispel false beliefs and stereotypes.
The terminology used when discussing these issues is complex; there are a number of terms for different ethnicities and nationalities
As outlined above, you should be proactive in educating yourself about your own and other people’s cultures to ensure that you are intervening from an informed perspective.
Set clear expectations
Be clear that you will not tolerate offensive language or behaviour and that you will take all racist incidents seriously. This especially applies to ‘banter’ and ‘jokes’ which are racist.
Report and record racist incidents
Evidence shows that many young people from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds are reluctant to report racist incidents. According to Show Racism the Red Card’s 2020 report, ‘Racism in Wales? Exploring prejudice in the Welsh Education System’, whilst 63% of pupils in Wales say that they or someone they know has been a target of racism, only 25% of educators had responded to a racist incident over the previous 12 months. It is therefore essential that when young people from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds experience racism they feel able to talk about this with a member of staff and can be confident that their complaints of racist behaviour will be taken seriously and acted upon.
Providing a safe space where young people (and staff) can challenge racial stereotypes and prejudiced views constructively is essential to the creation of a supportive and inclusive environment. To ensure that you and your setting provides such a safe space, it is essential to never dismiss a report of racism and take all incidents seriously:
- listen to the young person;
- acknowledge their feelings;
- try to understand and address what has happened;
- include the learner or young person in any follow-up actions; and
- encourage all learners, young people and colleagues to be vigilant and to report any concerns.
Make sure that you’re aware of, and understand, the relevant processes for reporting incidents and that you follow these carefully. Keep a record of any incidents and take immediate action if you witness or receive any report of a racist incident or bullying. This sort of proactive approach will help ensure learners and young people are able to feel confident in reporting racist incidents.
Useful links and resources
Equality and Human Rights Commission
The Equality and Human Rights Commission promotes and upholds equality and human rights ideals and laws across England, Scotland and Wales.
BAMEed Network is a grassroots organisation that aims to ensure that diverse communities are represented within the education workforce (including as leaders) and seeks to address broader issues around diversity and racism within the education sector. Their website hosts a range of useful resources and reading. There is a Wales branch which meet regularly to develop work and offer a range of support.
Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team (EYST)
The Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team (EYST) is an award-winning voluntary organisation which was set up to support ethnic minority people in Wales.
Race Alliance Wales
Race Alliance Wales (RAW) was established in 2018 and acts as a collaborative platform for individuals and organisations interested in achieving race equality in Wales.
Race Council Cymru
Race Council Cymru (RCC) is umbrella body that works to bring together key organisations within Wales in order to promote integration and to champion justice and race equality in institutions and society.
Show Racism the Red Card
Show Racism the Red Card works in schools and other educational settings throughout the UK to offer a whole range of educational training, workshops, resources and activities, all designed to educate young people and adults about the causes and the consequences of racism.
Education Workforce Council – Black, Asian and minority ethnic representation within the school workforce in Wales. Phase 3 report and final recommendations to the Welsh Government
Race Alliance Wales - Show Us You Care: exploring the cumulative impact of racism upon racialised young people in the Welsh Education System
UK Government – Guidance on the Equality Act 2010
Welsh Government – Race Equality Action Plan. An anti-racist Wales
The definitions included here are not limited to the ones used in this guide and includes terms you may come across in your own research and learning:
|Anti-racism||The active commitment to identify and challenge racism and discrimination at an individual, institutional and systemic level.|
|Bias||A preference in favour of, or against, a person or a group based on personal characteristics or stereotypes.|
|Discrimination||The unequal treatment of members of various groups, based on protected characteristics (age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation).|
The presence of a wide range of different characteristics in a group of people or organisation.
Diversity includes all the ways that people differ. It can include factors such as age, sex, race, ethnicity, physical and intellectual ability, religion, sexual orientation, educational background, socioeconomic status and expertise. It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values.
|Equity||The process of ensuring fairness and impartiality, recognising that we do not all start from the same place and that adjustments need to be made to address imbalances.|
|Gaslighting||False narratives put forward that lead another person or group of people to doubt their own perceptions of reality, potentially causing them to become disoriented or distressed.|
|Inclusion||Enabling people to participate fully in what we do. Appreciating and using our unique differences in a way that shows respect for the individual.|
|Inclusive education||Education that is based on the principles of acceptance and inclusion of all learners and young people. Ensuring learners and young people can see themselves reflected in the curriculum, their physical surroundings, and the broader environment, in which diversity is honoured and all individuals are respected.|
|Individual racism||Individual racism refers to the beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals that support or perpetuate racism. Individual racism can be deliberate, or the individual may act to perpetuate or support racism without knowing that is what he or she is doing.|
|Institutional racism||Institutional racism refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups.|
|Microagressions||Everyday, subtle verbal or nonverbal behaviour that is directed at a member of a marginalised group, and has a harmful, derogatory effect. This may be intentional or unintentional.|
|Race||A socially constructed system of categorising people, based on geographic, historical, political, economic, social and cultural factors, as well as physical traits.|
|Racialisation||The process by which societies construct races as real, different and unequal in ways that matter and affect economic, political and social life.|
|Racism||Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism by an individual or institution against a person or people on the basis of their racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalised.|
|Stereotype||A widely held assumption based on things like race, colour, ethnic origin, place of origin, religion, etc. Stereotyping typically involves attributing the same characteristics to all members of a group regardless of their individual differences. It is often based on misconceptions, incomplete information and/or false generalisations|