News & Insights 10 July 2020

Determined to Change, Determined to Sustain: Black Lives Matter at Action Tutoring

Last month, Action Tutoring put out a statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Since then, our entire organisation has been working together to find ways to take anti-racist action both in the short and long term. 

In our earliest meetings, we discussed the need for both immediate, purposeful change and for a sustained commitment to our pledges and actions. We agreed that we need to do so much better, but knew all changes had to be meaningful, well implemented, and long lasting.

We formed three cross-organisational working groups, each focusing on a key area of the charity: our pupils and resourcesvolunteer tutorsand staff. Between weekly whole-team conversations, these groups have been meeting more regularly to reflect on the current limits of our work, to read and research, to brainstorm ideas, and to turn our observations into actions. In the short term, this has manifested itself in a number of ways. For example:

  • We are reaching out to MPs across the country asking them to champion measures to tackle systemic racial inequality and commit to sustained scrutiny of policies that disadvantage Black children and young people, as well as those from all other minority ethnic groups.
  • Two sub-groups are combing through every workbook to audit their cultural representation and messaging. This research will inform changes to help improve our resources. Any new resources we produce (such as for half-term catch-up days) will follow new diversity criteria.
  • We have created a group to centre anti-racism in staff learning and development. Staff will meet regularly to share reading, webinars, policy, and history and discuss what we’ve learned in relation to anti-racism in our work and sector.
  • We are creating diverse suggested reading lists for pupils. These will also be useful for tutors who may ask us about the kinds of texts they could bring to sessions for ‘reading for pleasure’ activities.
  • We are adding a clause on anti-racism to Action Tutoring’s school partnership agreements, laying out our expectation for staff and tutors from Black and other minority ethinc backgrounds to be protected from racism. Although we hoped this would be implicit, we realise we must make it explicit. 

As for the longer term, we have plenty of ideas in the pipeline and are currently researching the best ways to carry them out. Some of our thinking includes:

  • Creating an additional training based on recognising and tackling unconscious bias. All our staff already undertake unconscious bias training but we would like to share the principles with our volunteers.
  • We are examining how we could improve our hiring practices to ensure our staff body is more inclusive, representative, and enriched by greater diversity. We recognise the precedence this must take whilst also thinking about the diversity of our volunteers.
  • We are exploring ways to diversify our volunteer pool to further enrich and expand the experience of our pupils and strengthen our community. We are putting together focus groups for different stakeholders to hear their experiences of the organisation and their ideas for building actively anti-racist practices into our community. If you would like to contribute, please contact us at hello@actiontutoring.org.uk.
  • We commit to ensuring all resources we produce from now on meet a new set of diversity criteria to promote healthier and proportional representation.

We are committed to making sustained anti-racist action central to how we work, recognising where we have failed in the past and being held accountable for any mistakes. We welcome any input from you into how we can further this work.

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