Tom Sherrington

Since posting Step 1, the debate regarding responses to the BLM protests has continued. There’s been a lot of activity and exchanges of views and I think it’s important to recognise that there is spectrum of opinion. Whether you agree with any one viewpoint or not, this forms a backdrop against which school leaders have to adopt a position that is supposed to be both principled and politically neutral (if that’s ever possible!). Where some people appear confident in their views around the concepts of white privilege, whiteness, race essentialism, critical race theory, structural racism, decolonisation – I think it’s fair to say that framing the debate and strategy around anti-racism in these terms is not typical within most schools. There’s still a lot of baseline learning and consensus-building to be done amongst adults – especially where personal perspectives and experiences of racism are so profound and so varied. On that basis, whilst engaging students in all-important discussions about racism and how to eradicate it, it’s premature and probably inappropriate for schools to launch initiatives that require teachers to deliver an anti-racist curriculum formulated through these concepts if they’re not equipped to do so, ready to deal with challenges from within their community. The risk of alienating the very people you seek to educate and include is high if you get this wrong.

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