Anti-Racism Framework for Initial Teacher Education / Training

What is the anti-racism framework?

This framework was developed through a research project commissioned by the NEU and supported by internal funding from Newcastle University. The project was led by Dr Heather J Smith (PI, Newcastle University) and Professor Vini Lander (Co-I, Leeds Beckett University) with research support provided by Marsha Garratt. The research project undertook a global literature review into anti-racism in teacher education, which informed the development of a survey open to all initial teacher education providers in England. The survey was shared via UCET and NASBTT to capture all University and school centred providers. We worked with partners (Centre of Race Education and Decoloniality; Show Racism the Red Card; Universities of Sanctuary; BAME Ed Network; NEU; NALDIC) as consultors, co-producers and disseminators. The framework was devised in light of the findings of the global literature review and survey analysis.

Abstract shapes in primary colours
Teacher working with two students

Why do we need a framework for anti-racism in ITE/T?

We began this project to generate new data and evidence for the publication of a freely available and widely disseminated, trusted, accessible and research-informed anti-racism framework for Initial Teacher Education/Training (such as PGCE and SCITT courses) in England. We understood this to be of vital importance to education more broadly given that reference to anti-racism is absent in current policy and hence there is no current guidance for ITE/T providers on anti-racism in ITE/T. This has led to a situation in which the most recent DfE survey, mirroring previous results, revealed that only 53% of newly qualified teachers, six months into their first post, felt well prepared to teach pupils “from all ethnic backgrounds” [sic] (53%) and only 39% felt well prepared to teach pupils with English as an additional language.

And yet there remains continued differential patterns of education access and outcomes for pupils from BAGM (Black Asian Global Majority) heritage as revealed in the government’s own Race Disparity Audit and associated statistics. The way that we educate current and future teachers has a central role in enacting change in the classroom and in curriculum and policy development to break this cycle. We hope, therefore, that the framework will be used to inform policy development.

...unless we interrupt racism in classrooms, we stand no chance of having a just society.

Survey respondent
Abstract yellow shapes with orange circle

The opposite of ‘racist’ isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘anti-racist.’ What’s the difference? One endorses either the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist, or racial equality as an antiracist. One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an anti-racist. One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of ‘not racist.’ The claim of ‘not racist’ neutrality in a mask for racism.

Ibram X Kendi ("How to be an antiracist", 2019, p.9)

Overarching values and understandings

  • Racism is a real and prevalent feature of our society.
  • Racism is about power and oppression.
  • Racism has psychological and material effects.
  • Racism takes many forms and is constantly being reshaped.
  • Racism is visible and elusive; it is overtly and covertly, knowingly and unknowingly enacted; and it is individualised and systemic.
  • Racism can be present through omissions, obfuscations and silences.
  • Racism interacts with other forms of oppression in intersectional ways.
  • Being anti-racist is not the same thing as being non-racist; anti-racism requires vigilant action, prioritisation and embedded practice.
  • Being anti-racist means to actively look and see, to describe and understand, and to dismantle racism.
  • Educators working with all age groups, in all places are therefore crucial to anti-racism work.
  • Teacher educators are of fundamental importance to enabling anti-racist teachers of and for the future.