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These articles are written by a variety of in-house staff and colleagues across the field, and as such the views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of NAHT.

 

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, shares his reflections on Black History Month 2021

History can help provide us with a sense of identity. It can help to understand current issues and enable us to ask the necessary questions of 'why things are the way they are.'
 
Essentially, we're all just living histories; whether that be through the languages we speak or the traditions we have.
 
We are lucky to inhabit a period of time where there is a real desire for progress, where we can talk meaningfully about equality of outcome and not just equality of opportunity. But tragic events over the past two years have made us all stop and evaluate our actions, as individuals and organisations. Are we doing enough?
 
It should not take shocking events and pandemics to shock the country into action. But sometimes they create moments in history that's we cannot squander. We need to harness the energy born out of suffering and make as much progress as we can.
 
We now have a new team at the Department for Education, including a new secretary of state. This offers an opportunity for the Department to renew its commitment to diversity and inclusion.
 
One way to solve the inequality in this country is to boost education funding. This means the Department must fulfil its promise to deliver a properly funded recovery package so that every pupil in the country receives the support they need and deserve. This should also include proper investment in our teachers and school leaders, and a commitment to ensuring that work around equality, diversity and inclusion within the profession are not piecemeal or 'forgotten' but effectively embedded in core strands of work already underway, such as the Early Career Framework. The Department must also urgently review a replacement for the EDI Hub funding which was discontinued in 2020.
 
While we desperately need more government action; it is vital that we do not just wait to be 'led' – we must also take the lead in making change.
 
 
At NAHT we feel it's important to honour Black History Month, recognising that it can provide an opportunity to support members in their ongoing work to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black people to the UK and around the world. The month can also provide a chance to focus on and/or improve awareness of issues affecting different communities, and an opportunity to explore experiences and histories that are currently under-represented.
 
That's why we're asking our Black, Asian and minority ethnic members to share what they're 'proud to be' this month so we can emphasise the richness and diversity in school leadership in the UK.
 
We're also taking this moment to encourage our members to share how they're celebrating Black History in their schools. 
 
However, my blog really is about the importance of celebrating Black History every day. This means ensuring that we are acknowledging Black history and Black contributions throughout the year, not just in a given month.
 
For many, this is already the case – if not, then let's all take this as a chance to seize the moment, build momentum and establish inclusive cultures that celebrate the incredible contributions of Black individuals to our workplaces, schools and lives.
 
Everyone should feel 'proud to be' who they are, and that's why we're delighted to have supported members from our Leaders for Race Equality network in developing their You Are Not Alone book. The book is a wonderful a celebration of some of our amazing members and their personal journeys as both leaders and individuals through school, university, interviews and promotion. Whilst the stories include some terrible examples of racism and discrimination, weaved throughout is a feeling of hope and inspiration.
 
I cannot applaud the authors enough for having the courage to step forward and share their often very personal truths. In doing so they are not only helping to support other school leaders of colour, that they are 'not alone', but they also help to inform others in the sector of the experiences for teachers and leaders of colour – and pave the way for inspiring our leaders of tomorrow.
 
As one of the authors puts it so eloquently: "To those entering the profession or leadership: go confidently into your future. Be bold, be brave and be you. Who you are will make the difference."
 
 
 
 
First published 01 October 2021