What do we mean by anti-racist education?

Racism and racist beliefs continue to exist in Scotland.  Testing Times: Messages to Reframe Race is a comprehensive study on the mainstream views of race in Scotland and England in December 2022. The study found that, in Scotland, 1 in 10 people believe that some races are born less intelligent than others.

It is not enough to recognise and value diversity. Learners need the opportunity to explore stereotypes and prejudice, racism and discrimination. Active and participatory learning methodologies develop the skills, values and attitudes to recognise prejudice and discrimination, promote equity and action on  racial injustice.  Research has suggested that there is no one way to reduce prejudice but there are a number of principles to keep in mind that will help deliver effective anti-racism education. The Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) provides advice on this topic.

self-learning tool for educators from SCOTDEC is also available. (Farukuoye, T. (2021) ‘A’ ADAMS’ BAIRNS? An Introductory Self-Learning Tool on Anti-racist praxis for teachers and educators’ ). An updated version of this resource can be found here: A’Adam’s Bairns? Exploring Equality and Diversity in Scotland Past and Present.

Why is anti-racist education necessary?

  • It empowers learners to develop an understanding of their own values, beliefs and cultures and those of others.
  • Anti-racist education helps children to understand and realise their own rights and the rights of others within the school, within the community and globally (Save the Children ‘A summary of the UNCRC’).
  • Anti-racist education helps learners to understand the harmful consequences of racism and to actively challenge it wherever it occurs.
  • It helps to ensure that the learning environment is safe and inclusive, without racial inequality or racism (Scottish Government (2016), ‘Race Equality Framework for Scotland 2016-30’).
  • It nurtures a historical literacy in learners which helps them to understand all of Scotland’s history, including our historical role in empire, colonialism and transatlantic slavery, and the diversity of Scottish society in the past. It helps learners understand how Scotland’s colonial past plays a role in their current everyday lives, acknowledging the successes and impact of Minority Ethnic historical figures, in relation to Scottish and global history. (The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination report (2016) to the UK and Northern Ireland)
  • Race equality education provides a vehicle for all practitioners to demonstrate their professional values (see page on Professional Standards).
  • The Equality Act (2010) gives the duty to schools and local authorities to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation of learners with protected characteristics, including race, and to advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not and to foster good relations between them.

Anti-racism considerations in education are essential in all settings across Scotland, regardless of geographical location.


Reflective questions

  • To what extent does anti-racist education in your setting follow the principles of planning and delivery set out here?
  • How does your setting promote and develop anti-racist education?
  • How does your setting measure the impact of their anti-racist education practices?

More information on anti-racist education and free anti-racist resources are available here.