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Find out how feedback from your school community should inform your anti-racism action plan, so you can address the specific problems faced in your school. Learn how to set specific objectives, meaningful action steps and achievable milestones, and how to measure progress so you know your school's on the right track.

Before you create your action plan:

  1. Start by auditing your school's current approach to anti-racism and inclusivity, to get an idea of where you need to improve – use our audit tool to help you
  2. Get input from staff and parents so you can tailor your approach – find out how to run an anti-racism working group

A note on terminology: we use BAME (Black, Asian or minority ethnic) throughout this article as a succinct way to refer to the many ethnic minority groups in England. However, we recognise that some people are not comfortable with the term.

When talking about this topic in your school, we'd encourage you to think about what terms will work best in your own context (other widely used terms include "ethnic minorities" and "people of colour") – and note that individuals should always be referred to according to their own ethnicity, rather than grouped in this way.

Tailor your approach by listening to your community and setting specific objectives

Getting staff, parents' and pupils' perspectives will help you prioritise in a targeted way rather than trying blanket solutions.

Before you start to write your action plan:

  • Hold at least 1 session with your working group to get staff and parents' perspectives on your approach to anti-racism and inclusivity
  • Ask staff and parents (and pupils, depending on their age) to share their thoughts in an anonymous survey or suggestions box, and gather responses
  • Gather any reports of racist incidents between pupils in your school

For each problem or incident raised, write an objective which would solve or lessen it. You'll want to do some independent reading here, to help you better understand issues like systemic racism, microaggressions and unconscious bias. Use our anti-racist reading lists for staff to get started. 

Take a look at these examples to help frame your thinking – remember to keep any opinions or experiences shared by staff, parents or pupils anonymous:

Problem or incident Objective
A parent feels that their child is the victim of bias when their work is marked. Reduce assessment bias to make sure BAME pupils are treated fairly when their work's being marked.
The school could feel more welcoming and inclusive for job applicants (for example, interview panels are all-white, there are all-white SLT portraits on the school website).  Make the school website, environment and application process more inviting for BAME applicants.
In a recorded racist incident, a young pupil called another pupil by a racial slur during lunchtime, but didn't understand what the word meant. Teach pupils the meaning of racist language, and why it's harmful.

Make a note if 2 or more items result in a similar objective – later on you can use this tally to prioritise objectives that will have the greatest impact.

Download and edit our anti-racism action plan template to save yourself time:

It's not your working group's job to create the action plan, but you should involve them at every stage of the process

Share your objectives with the working group before you continue

It's not your working group's job to create the action plan, but you should involve them at every stage and make sure they agree with the objectives you've come up with.

Show them each problem, and the objective you've created as a result.

Create action steps for each objective

Once you've agreed your objectives, you should read independently to help find actions you can take to address them (the reading list linked to in the section above is a good place to start). There aren't any shortcuts when it comes to racial justice, but begin to look for actions you can start to take right now, or short-term steps.

Here are some examples to point you in the right direction, but the exact steps you'll need to take will depend on your setting:

Objective Possible action steps
Reduce assessment bias to make sure BAME pupils are treated fairly when their work's being marked.

Short term:

  • Compare BAME pupils' predicted grades to their actual grades, and then compare to the same for white pupils. Significantly lower predicted grades for BAME pupils suggests bias
  • Introduce anonymous marking in class - assign a random number to each pupil, teach pupils to use their number rather than signing work with their name, encourage teachers to swap exercise books with another teacher when marking * 

Medium term:

  • Assessment bias training for all teachers

Long term:

  • Recruit a more diverse staff team that represents the pupil base
Make the school website, environment and application process more inviting for BAME applicants.

Short term:

  • Write a statement acknowledging the lack of BAME staff in your school, and welcoming BAME applicants
  • Make interview panels more diverse (if you already have diversity in your staff team)
  • Ask candidates if they have any diversity-related concerns during the recruitment process

Long term:

  • Make interview panels more diverse (a long-term action step if you don't already have a diverse team)
Teach pupils the meaning of racist language, and why it's harmful.

Short term:

  • Organise for an external speaker to speak to pupils about the impact of racism and racist language

Medium term:

  • Adapt your curriculum to include lessons about other cultures and why certain language is harmful

(* While COVID-19-related protective measures are in place, you may need to consider how you do this safely.)

Once you've got your action steps, you can prioritise objectives based on:

  • What will have the biggest impact – if multiple staff, parents or pupils raised a similar problem, this is a good place to start
  • Which objectives are dependent on others

Set specific and achievable short-term, medium-term and long-term milestones

You won't be able to tackle every problem in the short term, but you should try and set goals that you can complete in the space of a year. Like in your school improvement plan, long-term milestones should be more ambitious, and will likely take years to accomplish.

You'll likely have realised from your reading that this is a significant challenge, so focus on gradual improvement, with 'quicker' wins where possible. For example, you won't solve unconscious bias in recruitment in the space of a year, but you might be able to increase the number of BAME applicants reaching the interview stage.

Set low-risk short-term milestones first, and see how your time frames match them (you might not get these milestones completely right the first time).

Here's an example of what your objectives, action steps, and milestones might look like:

Objective Action steps Milestones

Reduce assessment bias to make sure BAME pupils are treated fairly when their work's being marked.

Short term (by the end of term, we will...)

  • Assign a random number to each pupil
  • Teach pupils to use their number rather than signing work with their name
  • Encourage teachers to swap exercise books with another teacher when marking *

Short term (results in 6 months):

  • All teachers have a 'buddy' who they always swap exercise books and worksheets with for marking
  • Pupils know their numbers and how to use them
  • This is common practice across the entire school

(* While COVID-19-related protective measures are in place, you may need to consider how you do this safely.)

Next, take your updated plan back to the working group for agreement. Be ready to explain what you've prioritised, and why – some members of the group might feel alienated if the problem they raised hasn't been prioritised.

Measure your progress against milestones

Once you've reached a milestone point (like 6 months or 1 year), you can use your data and feedback from your working group to measure progress (more on this below). Then, either continue towards the next milestone, or adapt your action steps.

Measure success with data

Data can't tell you everything, but it'll give you a rough idea that you're on the right track, alongside feedback from your working group.

Here's some data to think about in relation to your milestones (your independent reading will help you find more areas to look at).

Recruitment data:

  • The number of BAME applicants applying to your roles, or the number of BAME applicants making it to the interview stages
  • The number of BAME staff in your school, compared to demographics in your area or in your school
  • Proportion of successful BAME applicants to overall BAME applicants, compared to white applicants

Assessment data:

  • The predicted grades of BAME pupils versus their actual grades (like for year 6 SATs), compared to the same for white pupils

Get feedback from your working group

When you meet to discuss the specific milestones on your action plan, ask your working group:

  • Do you think we've met each of our milestones, or are we on our way to meeting them?
  • What impact do you think our actions are having?

It's not your working group's responsibility to find solutions, but do listen to them and take any of their suggestions on board.

Sources

Inclusion Labs, a non-profit organisation that helps schools to be active and accountable in creating a more diverse and inclusive community, who spoke to us about making an action plan and tailoring your approach to suit your community.

Jack Sloan, headteacher at Hanover Primary School, who spoke to us about starting a working group, and tailoring your approach to anti-racism based on BAME staff and parents' perspectives.

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