As the Scottish school year draws to a close, our Red Card Community Education team and Ex-pro coaches again start to review the valuable work that we have rolled out across the country.
The thousands of pupils who have taken part in our Anti-Racism and Anti-Sectarianism workshops this year are about to embark on their summer holidays, but each of them armed with the essential information and knowledge they need to promote equality and diversity within the societies they are growing up in. As the newest member of the Red Card Team, and as my first school year in post as Education Worker, it feels good to take a breath and look back over the wealth of work that I have been part of.
October marked the start of my journey; I was quickly introduced to the variety of workshops that are on offer from this busy team. The Red Card Education team comprises of some very inspirational, skilled and talented individuals; it was great to learn from each and take this into the classroom in my own sessions. A busy few months seen me through deliveries in Primaries, Secondaries, Schools for pupils with additional support needs, and a number of teacher training workshops to both Primary and Secondary teaching professionals, allowing the key messages to be embedded and spread throughout the whole school curriculum.
My initial reflections on these sessions usually centred around how interested the pupils were in the issues, but even more so on how interested the teachers were. Learning took place on both levels, which was clear from the evaluations of our large scale teacher training events.
“[I am] worried that so many in the group were unaware of legislation arising from Steven Lawrence enquiry – perhaps not as aware a country as we think”
“This was very useful in that it clarified certain facts and created a less threatening approach to racism”
“All workshops were excellent. Dee and Gillian obviously very passionate about the topic. Lots of good ideas to take back to school”
“Just started RRSA post and feel much more confident about approaching idea of racial respect now”
(West Lothian Teacher Training Day, Feb 2013)
There have been many highlights and classic ‘classroom moments’ over the year, but what reaffirms my motivation every time is the feedback we receive. Following a session I delivered with Derek Ferguson at Ardgowan Primary, Inverclyde, we received about 30 handwritten thank you letters from those pupils in the post the following week. As a follow up activity, their teacher had asked them to write to us telling us what they had learned from our workshop.
“We definitely learned a great deal. The part I enjoyed best was finding out that calling Chinese people ‘Chinkies’ is racist and different types of stereotypes can hurt. It’s not just skin colour that matters it’s also to do with their religion. Racism is an issue in our world. I hope the next generation will PROVE racism hurts”
“My favourite part of the session was when we had the mini debate. It was my favourite but because I learned new stuff as well as arguing my own beliefs”
“We definitely learned a lot. I learned that stereotypes are offensive and not to judge someone by how they look. Racism is an issue in our world. I hope that one day it will change because it is not fair for people to live like this”
“Racism is a great issue in our world. I hope that no one will say anything to me but if they do I will now know what to do”
(P6 pupils, Ardgowan Primary School, March 2013)
Both the desire and the need for our work remains strong.
Behaviours and ideas surrounding Racism and Sectarianism are constantly changing, and it is essential to be able to respond appropriately to the questions which arise from the high profile stories that are hitting our headlines. Misinformation is spread daily regarding immigration, Muslims, Roma, Gypsy and Traveller communities amongst other minority groups. Opinions that were expressed in the few workshops that took place at the very end of the school year mirrored the damaging messages of tension and fear towards minority groups which have been irresponsibly exacerbated through the media. The murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich and the anti-Muslim sentiment that was subsequently spread is an example of this. Pupils repeated damaging stereotypical and extreme views they had picked up from their peers and the press, but also expressed a strong desire to learn more about these issues.
Our messages surrounding anti-racism and sectarianism are so well received, and the enthusiasm from the pupils to learn more is always overwhelming. I have been so inspired by the interest and enthusiasm of those pupils, their desire to learn, but also by the necessity of this work. There have been important lessons to be learned in every single classroom session, for both pupils and teachers, and I look forward to the learning opportunities and the challenges that next years delivery will bring.
Show Racism the Red Card Scotland is looking to create new local authority funded partnerships with councils for the new school year commencing Aug 2013. If any Local Authorities are interested in finding out how programmes can be tailored to meet their needs please contact Dee Kinning on 0141 222 2058 or firstname.lastname@example.org