All 1 Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon contributions to the Schools Bill [HL] 2022-23

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Mon 18th Jul 2022
Schools Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Report stage: Part 1 & Lords Hansard - Part 1

Schools Bill [HL]

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Excerpts
That is my party’s view on those amendments.
Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Portrait Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Lab)
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My Lords, I will speak very briefly on Amendment 118B.

For generations, there have been interventions that have looked at education, but what needs to change is to make schooling applicable to everyone. What is always missing is where the black child fits in. We have only to look at the scandal around the Windrush generation and the lessons that have not been learned, and the injustices that occurred back in 1948 and still do in the present day.

Back in the 1960s, Bernard Coard wrote a book called How the West Indian Child is Made Educationally Sub-normal in the British School System. The British school system has failed children in schools following the immigration of their parents into this country, and the racism they suffered in education in some cases continues to this day.

In my opinion, the majority of children in pupil referral units are from the black community. Children are sent there for many reasons, and racism is high on the agenda. Once children are placed there, you could say that is the end of their education, life chances and prospects. We can see this in the Prison Service and with employment opportunities.

The Schools Bill needs to look at education for all. Education is supposed to equip you for the future, and for you to understand who you are and that your background matters.

Racism was laid bare during the pandemic. We saw that the first casualties to have died of Covid-19 were from the black and Asian community. This was highlighted as part of my review.

Unless the Government look seriously at the impact of racism in our schools on education and wider society, we will back discussing the same agenda in years to come.

To touch on black history, it does not address the curriculum in education. I believe that decolonisation is the way forward. The Stephen Lawrence foundation will be working on this moving forward.

Wales is looking at education and the changes that are needed to the system. This is a start. What are the Government looking to do in the other devolved nations? Following on from the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Woolley, I wish that we would take the racism that happens in schools a lot more seriously.

Lord Agnew of Oulton Portrait Lord Agnew of Oulton (Con)
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My Lords, I reassure the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, that regional schools directors are civil servants. I am sure my noble friend the Minister will confirm that there are no proposed changes to that. During my tenure they were all directly answerable to me on behalf of our Secretary of State. I tried very hard to ensure that we had a mixture of skills in that group.

When I was the academies Minister, the national schools commissioner had been a teacher, then a headteacher, then the chief executive of an academy trust, so he had a very good understanding of the whole culture. We had another very good regional schools commissioner who had been the head of local authority social services and so on, but we also had permanent civil servants. My mission was to bring them all together. They all reported to me, and we met as a group regularly so that there could be a transfer of ideas between them. I do not think there are any plans for that to change.