SERA Inclusive Education Network event: Reflecting on Racism and Race Equality in Scottish Education

Reflecting on Racism and Race Equality in Scottish Education

Date: Tuesday 18th May 2021, 4pm – 5.30pm

Venue: MS TEAMS. A link will be sent to registrants to access the event.

Recording of the event:

Webinar Overview

4:00-4:10: Welcome

4:10-4:25: Presentation 1: ‘I bring my hijab, my colour and my culture into the classroom’: A Pedagogy of Justice: Making the Hidden Curriculum Visible, Khadija Mohammed

4:25- 4:40: Presentation 2: “The Times When it Hurts” Exploring school Experiences of Students of Colour, Jacquelyn Kennelly

4:40- 4:55: Presentation 3: Decolonising the Curriculum through a global citizenship lens: The Humari Pehchan (Who am I?) Project, Dr Nighet Riaz

4:55- 5:25: Q&A

5:25-5:30: Conclusions


Race and racism is a central issue in our society and schools. In this webinar, we are focusing on the identities of BME teachers, students’ experiences and the curriculum. Drawing upon some findings from research activities, the presenters will discuss key ideas on race equality and antiracist education and they will consider some of the implications of these for policy, research and practice.

There will be time to reflect on the presentations and generate questions that will lead to a purposeful dialogue.

Presentation 1

‘I bring my hijab, my colour and my culture into the classroom’:

A Pedagogy of Justice: Making the Hidden Curriculum Visible

Khadija Mohammed

This workshop draws on qualitative research conducted with black and minority ethnic (BME) teachers from the West of Scotland.  It examines the concept of the hidden curriculum and explores how BME teachers use their cultural, religious and linguistic identities in the classroom to benefit the children they teach. This workshop will include vignettes to prompt discussions on how the teachers’ diverse identities provoke and disrupt the implicit values, attitudes and beliefs children learn through the everyday experiences of attending school.

By identifying the enablers and barriers to BME teachers utilising these skills, the research findings inform our understanding of teachers working in culturally diverse classrooms.  If we are serious about equality and social justice, there are underpinning issues about the identities of BME teachers that require further exploration

Presentation 2

“The Times When it Hurts” Exploring school Experiences of Students of Colour

Jacquelyn Kennelly

This presentation discusses the main points of a recently published paper focusing on racism in a Scottish secondary school, drawing on data from focus groups with secondary students of colour. The study explores the students’ reflections on enactments of inequity, bias and privilege. The findings indicated students of colour in this school experienced racism, but felt the need to diminish or ignore these experiences. While the students felt discriminated against due to race, they did not feel that these interactions were addressed by their school. The necessity of race talk in schools and opportunities for hearing voices of colour was highlighted by utilizing a Critical Race Theory (CRT) framework. Implications for teachers, research, and educational policy have been identified. The presentation will conclude with suggestions for more explicit focus on race in the classrooms, curriculum and policies.

Presentation 3

Decolonising the Curriculum through a global citizenship lens

Dr Nighet Riaz

Scotland’s curricular intention has been to imbricate global citizenship throughout the curriculum (Biesta:2008), so that it presents as a cross-curricular and whole school approach. However, there is debate if the Curriculum for Excellence opens up critical spaces for ‘a complex, ethical understanding and calls to action related to global injustices and political responsibilities’ (Swanson and Pashby:2016, 4) or where the discourse could stand for progressivism yet does not disturb the national narrative, where activism is written out of the story, focusing on ‘responsible citizenship’. This focus reinforces ‘the ontological and epistemic supremacy and privilege of the West (Swanson:2015 in Swanson and Pashby:2016, 5) through the erasure of global events such as climate change, #BlackLivesMatter, to engage children and young people.

The author and fellow Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators (SAMEE) wanted to explore how policies could be made more progressive through an activist lens and will outline a project which aims to actualise aspects of global citizenship through the use of linguistic capital and climate justice.

The ‘Humari Pehchaan’ (Who am I?) project emerged as part of a journey of how the author situated herself in the colonial story where she describes her journey from compulsory to higher education (Riaz in Moncrieffe et al: 2020) and conversations with SAMEE members. It was coupled with a previous public call to address the lack of implementation of Urdu as a heritage language in the Languages 2+1 Language Policy in the school curriculum in Glasgow (Stewart, 8th February, 2018).


Biesta, G.J.J. (2008). What kind of citizen? What kind of democracy? Citizenship Education and the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence. Scottish Educational Review, 40(2), pp.38-52.

Moncrieffe, M., Race, R., Harris, R., Chetty, D., Riaz, N., Ayling, P., Arphattananon, T., Nasilbullov, K., Kopylova, N. and Steinburg, S. (2020) Decolonising the Curriculum-Transnational Perspectives.

Stewart, C. (2018) Council ‘failing Glasgow’s diverse pupils’ as Urdu classes dwindle (8th February 2018)

Swanson, D.M. and Pashby, K. (2016) Towards a critical global citizenship?: a comparative analysis of GC education discourses in Scotland and Alberta. Journal of Research in Curriculum and Instruction20(3), pp.184-195.

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Charlaine Simpson – SERA Academic Secretary

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