Mon,22 Nov 2021

#AntiRacismInAction : Scotland | Episode 8

By the *Black Further Education Leadership Group (BFELG): #AntiRacismInAction: Scotland with Dr Nighet Riaz, EDI Policy Officer, University of Glasgow, Jim Metcalfe, Chief Executive, College Development Network and Audrey Cumberford MBE FRSE, Principal and CEO, Edinburgh College.

Episode 8 of 9 BFELG Livestreams #AntiRacismInAction – Making the Most of an Ethnically Diverse Britain, aired today, November 22.

Focusing on  Scotland, today’s episode is the fifth within the Livestream series to explore place-based, system leadership of #AntiRacismInAction. It is also the penultimate episode in this Livestream series.

 4% of Scotland’s population is classified as non-white ethnic minority – Asian, African, Caribbean or Black, Mixed or Other. The Race Equality Framework for Scotland states that the Scottish Government is determined to show leadership in not only advancing race equality, tackling racism and addressing the barriers that prevent people from minority ethnic communities from realising their potential but also to use its influence to ensure that this is embraced across Scotland.  

The Introduction to the Framework document paints the all too familiar picture that ‘ 50 years on from the introduction of the Race Relations Action 1965 (the first legislation to address racial inequality in the UK) significant inequalities remain in many areas of life for minority ethnic people. Too many minority ethnic individuals and groups face poorer outcomes than average; including lower employment rates, a higher risk of poverty, under-representation in public life and with racism being a lived and daily experience for too many people. While Scotland has a strong legal framework and innovative public services, too often these services are not treating everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve. No one in Scotland should experience disadvantage due to structural racism or discrimination on the grounds of nationality, ethnicity or national origin. All must be able to achieve equal outcomes in every area of social, economic, civic and political life.’

The document sets out how the Government aims to progress this ambition over a 15 year period from 2016 to 2030 through six themed Visions. The first of these is the overarching ambition for race equality in Scotland to be achieved by 2030. The other themes cover outcomes related to community cohesion and safety; participation and representation, education and lifelong learning, employability, employment and income and health and home.

As anchor institutions in their communities, Scotland’s colleges and universities have the potential to make a strong contribution to the country’s overarching ambition for race equality by 2030.

In her welcome and introduction to the Episode, Dr Nighet Riaz, EDI Policy Officer, University of Glasgow outlined what #AntiRacismInAction means to her: building relationships, making space for our voices to be listened to by the decision makers and our institutions; recognising that there is a collective drive from activists and educators to pursue change, not only by highlighting the gap but also showing feasible attainable strategies and actions that are needed for that change to happen.

And today’s Episode, brought together two highly influential leaders in the Scottish educational landscape who are personally and professionally committed to #AntiRacismInAction – Jim Metcalfe and Audrey Cumberford OBE FRSE.  

Jim Metcalfe is the Chief Executive of the College Development Network (CDN), the national agency in Scotland that supports skills and sector development across colleges and vocational learning. CDN’s mission is to support the college and skills system in enhancing success for students, their wider communities, and regional economies by supporting the learning workforce to develop excellent digital skills; promoting leadership development; developing collaborative research and enquiry programmes; and leading and growing the college Climate Emergency Expert Group.

During the livestream discussion, Jim affirmed CDN’s commitment to raising awareness of the issue of racism on college campuses, and working to create the conditions for confident conversations around this. He highlighted CDN’s  contribution earlier this year to the creation of a suite of resources to help tackle racism on college and university campuses. A steering group of experts from colleges and universities in Scotland oversaw the development of the resources, which drew on the expertise and lived experience of a diverse range of staff and students working and studying across Scotland’s colleges and universities. The resources include a race literacy glossary, utilisation guides, diagnostic tools, templates, blogs and webinars discussing race, racism and whiteness.

CDN is currently involved in two working groups as part of the same project which looks at tackling the under-representation of ethnic diversity in the college and university workplace and the development of an anti-racist curriculum.

Jim also discussed CDN’s collaboration with BFELG in the areas of…..

Audrey Cumberford is the Principal and CEO of Edinburgh College. The College has four main campuses across the city and Lothians, 30,000 students and around 1400 staff. Around 3.4% of Edinburgh College’s staff have declared being from a *Black background; this figure has more than doubled since 2017, when it sat at 1.5% of staff, but is still not fully representative of the local population (8.2%). 

The College is ambitious for itself, its students, communities and region, and its role in addressing racial inequality and building on its wider equalities plans. This ambition is palpable.  In 2021, Edinburgh was one of the first Scottish colleges to publish its ethnicity pay gap figures. Analysis of the data showed an ethnicity pay gap of 11.3% – 1% above the Scottish average of 10.3%.

On leadership and culture, Audrey spoke about how Anti-racism must permeate through the whole college and how as Principal she ensures and creates the right and best environment for impactful change. She highlighted the creation of the College’s Anti-Racist Unity Group, a staff network open to everyone who wants to be part of the conversation around anti-racism, conversations being a key part in changing mindsets and changing culture.  She acknowledged that this is a small step with much more to do and believes in collective responsibility, and challenge, to embed meaningful and impactful change throughout the College The College is also developing plans to survey staff on the topic of racially and religiously motivated harassment and discrimination to confront the reality of racism on campus and create a benchmark. 

In addition, the College is one of 44 Scottish colleges and universities that have signed up to the ‘Tackling racism on campus’ project’s declaration to stand united against racism.  Managers across the College have recently taken a 4-part ‘Let’s Talk About Race’ training course through the Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators (SAMEE).  

However, Audrey acknowledged that in many ways the College is at the beginning of a journey, with exciting opportunities ahead whilst recognising a number of challenges. BFELG is absolutely delighted that Edinburgh College, the largest college in Scotland, has become a BFELG Affiliated Organisation. Responding to Robin Landman’s warm welcome, Audrey said that the College sees affiliation with the BFELG as a very real opportunity to evaluate the journey so far, support us through that journey and to help us ‘step up’ our efforts by developing a planned, strategic approach. The College has strong foundations on which to build; the commitment and will to make a difference; and is  confident that the BFELG 10-point Toolkit provides the framework, the scaffolding around which to build a clear and deliverable strategic ambition and priorities to tackle race inequalities.    

As the first Scottish College to partner with the BFELG, Audrey added that the College is also committed to playing it part to promote a team Scotland approach across the college sector.  Being Scotland’s Capital College and the largest in Scotland, comes with a significant responsibility in serving the people and communities in the region. The College delivers over 10% of the activity of the whole college sector in Scotland and so its reach is significant and represents a very real opportunity to effect change, changing mindsets and practices – not only within the organisation but with wider stakeholders.

Speaking about the wider sector and wider landscape both Jim and Audrey shared their thoughts on how Edinburgh College and CDN can help support a sector wide commitment to Anti-racism. The also outlined the characteristics of the Scottish landscape that make it easier to achieve collective responsibility and approach.

Watch the Livestream to hear Jim Metcalfe and Audrey Cumberford talk about their individual dream scenarios for Anti-racism.

The Episode was co-produced by BFELG and FE News, co-anchored by Gavin O’Meara  (CEO and Head of Digital, FE News), and Robin Landman OBE, BFELG Director.

Tune in on Monday 29 November at 9.30am for Episode 9, the season finale of Making the Most of an Ethnically Diverse Britain: #AntiRacismInAction.

*’Black’ is used as an inclusive definition to refer to people from ethnically diverse backgrounds who share a lived experience of  the effects of racism.