Mon,27 Nov 2023

Standing room only at AoC conference session

BLG session at AoC conference 2023

It was great to see so many people attend our break-out session at the Association of Colleges (AoC) annual conference in Birmingham in November. It really was standing room only so many thanks to those of you who were in attendance.

BLG Director Robin Landman OBE led the session on Achieving ethnic equity in further education, with contributions also from Basingstoke College of Technology Principal Anthony Bravo, Peter Symonds College Principal Sara Russell, AoC senior policy manager Eddie Playfair and Karen Redhead OBE, CEO and Principal at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College.

It was shocking to see the scale of the problem, with a stark under-representation of Black communities in teaching and leadership positions in education. The link between representation in colleges and student attainment is clear, and attendees asked some insightful questions on how we can address the crisis. Among insights, attendees heard:

  • FE Workforce Data shows that just 14.1% of teaching staff are black and 12.7% of Governors are black, compared to a black FE student population of 30.5%
  • There are just two black college CEOs in London (where approximately half of the black student population in the country study)
  • Findings from research that demonstrate that ethnically diverse companies perform better
  • “The potential benefit to the UK economy from full representation of BME individuals across the labour market, through improved participation and progression, is estimated to be £24 billion a year, which represents 1.3% of GDP” – The McGregor-Smith Review: Race in the workplace
  • An Ethnic Representation Index in Higher Education has been developed by Prof David Mba and his research team at UAL London

After the session, Robin said: “I was delighted with the turn-out for our break-out session and to get input from the people there, including sector leaders in Karen and Sara from two colleges affiliated with BLG and engaged with the Ethnic Equity in Education (EEE) campaign

“The content of the presentation was really important. Thanks to the AoC, we have clear data about the impact on Black students and on the profile of the FE leadership. But it’s also important that they identified the potential leadership talent pool that we can focus our attention on to redress the balance.

“All in all, an excellent event. The level of debate from the audience was excellent. The next step for us is to spread the word across the whole sector.”

Also speaking after the session, Sarah said: “It was an incredibly important session today because we need systems leadership and we need a sector to take responsibility for furthering the anti-racism agenda and looking at the inequity in further education for our black and minority students and staff.”

Anthony said: “It was really enjoyable to see the session to busy. There needs to be a pipeline and this group has given us an opportunity to develop a pipeline again of leaders in further education, which will have an impact on the learners’ outcomes as well.”

Attendees were invited to take part in a survey for the EEE campaign, launched in partnership with FE News.