The images of George Floyd being murdered went around the world. Those pictures sparked a global movement for justice and highlighted just how lethal and violent racism can be. And Britain was forced to reflect on the race inequalities on our doorstep.
As we commemorate the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death, we feel it is crucial to reinforce the critical importance of supporting, and protecting, the next generation. This clearly begins in our schools, ranging from the curricula we teach our children, the diversity of school leadership, governing bodies and the teachers who educate our pupils, the level of inclusivity that school policies have, and broader issues, such as how we tackle the intersectionality between race, child food poverty and the digital divide.
We must also not forget how imperative it is to challenge systemic inequalities across further education, higher education, and within adult learning. Education provides us with the essential tools to progress in life, and this often has a permeating impact, affecting our employment prospects, financial circumstances and our understanding of cultures and communities.
We must acknowledge that tackling race inequalities in our education system is a fundamental part of protecting the next generation, from much of the racism-induced trauma that adults endure today. As you read this statement, it is likely there are children in your local area who will have experienced racism in school - institutions that are meant to safeguard pupils and enhance their wellbeing. We understand that children today, for example, are still being penalised because of their style of hair. We cannot allow children to be discriminated against for embracing their identities - and we stand in solidarity with all children, pupils, and students. That is why we are holding an event, on 8th June at 6pm, in support of pupils and students who have experienced racism in education, and who have been brave enough to use their voices to speak up. Please click here to register your interest if you would like to attend the event in solidarity.
No child should be in a situation where they need to speak out against racism. It is up to us, as adults, to support pupils and stop history repeating itself.
We are also calling on the UK Government to outline a clear plan to tackle race inequality in schools, and particularly, to eradicate race disproportionality in school exclusions. We would like to see the Department for Education broaden its stakeholder engagement strategy, to work with organisations to discuss the future of school exclusions.
The death of George Floyd amplified the severity of race inequality across the world. We call on the UK Government to promote anti-racism within our education system as a fundamental priority - it is imperative if we are to protect future generations.
Rt Hon Diane Abbott MP
Chair of the APPG for Race Equality in Education
Founder of the APPG for Race Equality in Education