Kalwant Bhopal

There is little research which has explored how students on Initial Teacher Training (ITT) courses understand and conceptualise discourses of ‘race’, diversity and inclusion. This article will focus on student understandings of racialised identities; it will explore the discourses by which students understand what it means to be White and what it means to be Black, within the context of ITT. The article will examine the different facets and themes of identity within the context of belonging and exclusion which exist within higher education in the cultural and social contexts of English universities. The data for this article is based on interviews conducted with a total of thirty students who were training to become teachers on primary and secondary PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate of Secondary Education) courses at two universities in the South of England. The majority of students who agreed to be interviewed were from White backgrounds and only a small minority were from BME (Black and minority ethnic backgrounds). The findings indicate that students’ understandings of ‘race’, diversity and inclusion on ITT courses are complex and multifaceted. Many of the students were aware of the importance of these issues, but were unsure about how to approach these subjects in the classroom, particularly in relation to how they would be taught. Many also felt unequipped when thinking about how they would deal with racist incidents in the classroom. The article argues that greater training is needed in relation to the practical assistance that student teachers require in terms of increasing their understanding of diversity and dealing with racism in the classroom. There is also a need to examine the impact of the Equality Act (2010) on ITT courses and the teaching of ‘race’, diversity and inclusion.

Read the paper