Tuesday 29 June 2021

Why Race is a major component of failing school inclusion

 Women and Writers of Colour

Last week my blog post was on inclusion failure as schools celebrated School Diversity Week, and this week gives further evidence on this matter. Not only are activists seeking to address the lack of black history in the school curriculum, but there are also findings that only 7% of women writers being studied at GCSE level English Literature, and a shocking 0.7% of writers of colour being included in the English Curriculum Key Stage 2- 4. The race equality think tank Runnymede Trust and Penguin Random House collaborated to investigate the lack of representation from ethnic minority authors and writers of colour. 

In the Lit in Colour Diversity report released today, author Bernardine Evaristo wrote the foreword of the 35-page report, "Literature is a curator of our imaginations, and schools are the caretakers of our young people's education. They are currently being denied access to the glorious outstanding and often ground-breaking narratives coming out of Britain's black and Asian communities."

Some of the key findings in the penguin report show that the teaching profession is overwhelmingly white. With even lower levels of ethnic diversity, a Black, Asian or minority ethnic teacher had never taught English according to 3/4 of teacher survey respondents. Over, 70% of youth survey respondents agreed that diversity is part of British society and representation should be in the school curriculum.

The insights are disturbing to know that institutions that can change the world through education and equality are failing with inclusion matters. It however should not prevent writers of colour and especially women writers of colour and even further independent women writers of colour. If a story is inside of you, there will be a time to share it, and readers will appreciate your words and work.

Allow the words of a student in 2017, Bennie Kara to motivate your writing "I couldn't find myself in any of the stories: as a student of literature I was DESPERATE to feel like I had a PLACE."

It is important that school leadership carry out the recommendations from the monumental work from PRH and Runnymede Trust, including providing support to diversify the curriculum in planning, financial resources to buy books, and readiness to speak with parents. 

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