Fri,14 Jul 2023

Crisis summit sees launch of Ethnic Equity in Education campaign

Leaders in Further Education gathered for a crisis summit on Thursday 13 July 2023 to address declining ethnic equity at leadership level in the sector and persistent gaps in the attainment levels of students from Black and minority ethnic groups.

Convened by the Black Leadership Group (BLG), the online meeting brought together more than 40 key figures from FE amid concerns about the lack of representation and its impact on the education and job prospects of people from black and minority ethnic communities.

Nazir Afzal OBE, the former chief prosecutor whose review of the London fire brigade uncovered institutional racism, will chair future meetings convened by BLG to design and deliver an Ethnic Equity in Education roadmap, attendees were told. Schools, six-form colleges, universities and employers will be involved in the initiative alongside FE institutions.

Speaking to FE News before the meeting, BLG director Robin Landman OBE said: “We all collectively know the scale of the challenge: We must halt the decline in the number and proportion of Black CEOs; we must repair and strengthen the Black talent pipeline and increase representation in governance and staffing at all levels, and we must simultaneously tackle the persistent attainment gaps that prevent *Black FE students reaching their potential.”

BLG recently revealed a fall in the number of Black CEOs, from 17 out of 244 in 2020 (7%) to 14 (6% of 277). In London, home to roughly 50% of the Black population of the UK, the total number of four Black principals had fallen to a single individual. In today’s meeting, BLG director Amarjit Basi shared evidence of the racism encountered by young black people in education, the attainment gaps in FE and Higher Education, and the disparities in employment earnings between different ethnic groups.

Mr Landman told attendees: “We are at a point where we can no longer wait for things to happen, and that is why we are having this meeting. Our contention in 2020, when BLG came together, was that the need for action was urgent, but ground continues to be lost. We really do need to respond now, with urgency, at a system and sector level.”

Professor David Mba, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Knowledge Exchange and Enterprise) at the University of the Arts London, shared his ground-breaking work on a Ethnic Representation Index (ERI) for the HE sector. An aim on the Roadmap for Ethnic Equity in Education will be a similar index for FE.

Among issues faced by black and minority ethnic students, said Prof Mba, was the lack of a sense of belonging caused by the disproportionately low numbers of black staff members in universities. Students say they don’t see anyone who looks like them.

Yusuf Ibrahim, Assistant Principal – Academic Studies, Sixth Forms & TEL, Cardiff and Vale College, shared with attendees the world-leading work at national level in Wales to tackle racism in education and across sectors. Among achievements, he said, were 13 college affiliations with BLG, 13 college anti-racism action plans, £1 million of investment in a pilot anti-racism curriculum in FE, and an active Anti-Racist Wales FE Steering Group.

Updates on Ethnic Equity in Education will be published in FE News and on the BLG website. For more information on how to get involved, people are also invited to email .

BLG director Stella Ngozi Mbubaegbu CBE said: “We do believe that this is a call to action to the system. BLG has sponsored the Summit but it cannot be BLG, our affiliates and allies driving the campaign on our own. It’s also a call to action to all of us with influence in education. Never has there been a more coherent presentation of the facts. We are at a crisis point but it is also a moment of hope, considering today’s discussions and stakeholder commitments to the development of a roadmap.”