World Mental Health Day 2020 - a BAME perspective
Teaching a broader range of historical perspectives is fundamentally important because our understanding of history shapes the context in which we view the contemporary world. Consequently, the neglect of black and other diverse history leads to a poor understanding of the events, movements and motivations unfolding around us. Taking this a step further, making the study of black history an event rather than a pervasive element of the curriculum tacitly reinforces the notion of black history as the history of the ‘other’ rather than an integral part of our shared past.
There is no set date for the national history curriculum to be reviewed, despite ministerial interest and the work of groups such as The Black Curriculum. However, prior to GCSE level the history curriculum is very flexible, encompassing British history from 1066 onwards and mandating at least one study of a significant society or issue in world history. Everyone involved in schools, whether as a parent or a professional, therefore has the opportunity to help this flexibility be used to explore black history more thoroughly. The suggestions below can help you do this in an effective and constructive way
You are far more influential as part of a group than as an individual. Every group of parents will organise differently, whether it is through WhatsApp or (socially distanced) groups at the school gates, but as a general rule the more people making the same request, the more likely a school is to meaningfully engage.
Regardless of the importance of an aspect of black history, or any history, it is difficult to integrate it if the syllabus being taught is on a completely separate topic. Studying, for example, the Windrush Generation as part of a course on the aftermath of World War Two is much easier to do than set up an entirely new course on a topic which is rarely studied at all, such as the British civil rights movement.
Simply asking for more black history to be taught is helpful, but not as likely to spur action as offering a solution. Whilst you do not need to write an entire syllabus, broaching the topic with a useful first step already in mind helps. You can offer suggestions about useful resources and approaches, or even offer to speak on a topic yourself if it is in your area of expertise.
One factor which influences what optional content is covered is teacher subject knowledge. Discussing what knowledge of black history the teachers have is a good first step to integrating those areas into the school’s syllabus.
Directly studying history is not the only way to explore black history. Other subjects, such as English literature, allow for discussion of black culture and history by immersing students in the wider context. Reading works such as ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ or the poetry of Maya Angelou in lieu of ‘Of Mice and Men’ brings additional dimensions to students’ understanding of black perspectives. This is especially important as history is limited by it sources, the majority of which were produced by white men, whereas subjects which use contemporary sources have a much larger and ever expanding pool of diverse voices to draw on. It can also help in schools where the history teachers’ subject knowledge of black history would make it difficult for the topic to be taught.
Governors and trustees have a broad remit to provide leadership and accountability on the school’s educational performance, finances, and strategic direction. Discussions about the principle of including a more diverse approach to history in the curriculum fall within their responsibility, and they also have the benefit of existing lines of communication and credibility with the school’s leadership.
Academies and private schools have more freedom to set their own curriculum. Whilst they are still heavily influenced by the content of exams, they have greater autonomy to include a wider range of content. More than half of single academy trusts have changed their curriculum, as have over a quarter of multi-academy trusts, so both the ability and willingness to change is already established.
There is of course no guarantee that a school will be willing to teach more black history, and there are issues with parental control over the syllabus which may make them wary of allowing outside influence, however well intentioned. With that in mind, it is worth remembering that a great deal of learning takes place outside of school. Parents can engage children by helping them find resources, such as ‘Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain’, which they might not come across following the curriculum, but will greatly add to their understanding. Whether through expanding a school’s approach or helping individual children access more diverse resources, we can all play our part in ensuring that the study of black and other diverse history is commonplace rather than an event in October.
As a firm, we have had many discussions about BAME and Black Lives Matter and how we can make a difference to the movement. We wanted to do more than just put out a statement of support - we wanted to take substantive action to address the inequalities faced by Black people and other ethnic minorities. As part of this, we are publishing a series of blogs from our varying practice areas highlighting what we are doing, how you can make a difference and shining a light on the issues. The blog series can be found here.
Tim Haggett is a Talent & Development Manager within the Human Resources department at Kingsley Napley. Tim's instrumental role ensures that the firm is able to make the best possible use of its employees' talent. He is also a member of Kingsley Napley's BAME & Allies network.
To mark Suicide Prevention Day and raise awareness of the prevalence of deaths by suicide in the UK, Kingsley Napley is set to host a mental health panel discussion on 10 September 2021.
On the 28 July 2021, the Government unveiled the highly anticipated National Disability Strategy (‘the strategy’). Pledged in the Government’s 2019 manifesto, the aim is to “improve the everyday lives of disabled people”. The Prime Minister described the strategy as the most comprehensive, concerted, cross-government plan relating to disability ever. A bold claim, but is it justified?
Whilst our Muslim colleagues and friends celebrate over communal meals and prayer, it is also a time for us at Kingsley Napley to reflect on the importance of observing and respecting the cultural and religious differences of others. We are motivated to make Kingsley Napley a place which is not only diverse, but also inclusive, where all our people feel able to bring their true selves to work.
When I told some of my friends I was writing a piece about drag activism, their reaction was almost unanimous…
"Oh, but, is there much to say?"
That's when I realised that drag queens, for many, are more synonymous with big hair and lip-syncing pop hits rather than political consciousness and activism. You can certainly understand the reason for this - we have been totally spoiled in recent years with the explosion of Ru Paul’s Drag Race around the world - the make-up, talents and confidence being a feast for the eyes (and the soul). But we cannot minimise the political importance of Mama Ru’s creation. Who could forget numbers such as “Shady Politics”; the discussions of gay conversion therapy while applying make-up; and Bob the Drag Queen describing his arrest during a 2011 marriage equality protest? Not to mention Nancy Pelosi sashaying into the All Stars season…
Coming out is an extremely personal journey and will be unique to each person. It takes a lot of courage to come out and a person may have to repeatedly do this in their personal and professional lives. Statistics show that 46% of people who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual and 47% of people who identify as trans feel comfortable to discuss their orientation or gender identity.
How can you put the spotlight on intersectionality to remind others that, even within the LGBTQ+ community, not everyone is treated equal?
Are you proud of who you are, your journey and the person that you’ve become? Do you truly wear your heart on your sleeve? For some, being open and honest about who we are (which includes our gender identity or sexuality) does not come easily and can be extremely hard. It can be even tougher at work, and for those that hide their true self, the energy expenditure is endless. That survival cost of energy makes you less productive, or even worse still, it has a detrimental impact on your mental and physical health.
I am a trans woman who has recently embarked on her transition. Having only taken my first steps on this journey, I am acutely aware when writing this that I have much to learn about myself, about being trans, and about the diverse LGBTQ+ family that I now find myself part of. However, there is one theme that I feel is important to discuss as we celebrate Pride in 2021.
Following on from my colleague Sameena Munir’s blog ‘’pray the gay away: cull conversion therapy worldwide’’, the issue of gay conversion therapy dominates contemporary conversations surrounding LGBT politics and legislation in the UK, but the Government has failed to deliver on its promise to ban it.
For two weeks during Pride month, Kingsley Napley are publishing a series of blogs to celebrate Pride and highlight LGBTQ+ issues from home and abroad.
It’s been 9 years since R&B artist Frank Ocean headed off rumours about his particular pronoun usage in the album Channel Orange by posting on Tumblr that his first love had been a man. Since then, the momentum for the openness and success of queer artists has continued to gather pace, and LGBTQ+ representation in the arts and mainstream media is as wide as it has ever been. This rise has however raised important questions about pigeonholing queer artists, and perhaps most interestingly whether they must always shoulder the responsibility of ‘pushing the agenda’.
In February this year, I attended a virtual talk held by the InterLaw Diversity Forum for LGBT+ History Month. The speakers featured individuals working in the legal sector and each discussed their experience of coming out as trans or non-binary at work. It feels an apt lesson given this year’s Pride theme: Visibility, Unity and Equality.
In January 2020, I was fortunate enough to give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. As far as I know, I am the first partner at Kingsley Napley (although certainly not the first employee) who has a baby who is lucky enough to have two mums. News of my pregnancy was met with overwhelming support from my colleagues. That support continues to this very day, and my wife and I remain truly grateful for the kindness that has been shown to us. However, since falling pregnant I have learnt that not all workplaces are as supportive to same-sex parents as mine. The concept of two mums or two dads starting a family is something that some people still struggle to get their heads around. So this year, for our KN Pride blog series, I have decided to explain the questions, that speaking from my own experience, it is not helpful to say to same-sex parents.
We have newly renamed our network to the Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage (REACH) group. Our REACH network is a space where we come together to work towards fostering and maintaining an inclusive workplace, where we can all reach our full potential without fear of discrimination.
Satvir Sokhi was recently invited to speak and take part in Leeds Beckett University’s Law Enrichment session which allowed a panel of ethnically diverse professionals to speak to students about our experiences with diversity and inclusion within the legal sector.
On this day each year, over 130 countries around the world seek to celebrate sexual and gender diversities and draw attention to the various forms of discrimination and violence that the LGBTQ+ community continue to experience.
There are various drivers forcing law firms to embrace a more diverse workforce and to attract, promote and retain talent from all backgrounds, regardless of gender, gender-identity, race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, age, and socio-economic class (to name but a few).
Following the tragic events of this week, I have thought back to the past two weeks and considered how my position might have been different if I was a woman. I now recognise just how incredibly ‘normal’ it has become for women to be warned against walking alone at night, which is something I have never had to consider as a man. This dichotomy between the experiences of men and women has been made clear by the reaction across traditional and social media.
Kingsley Napley continue to support International Women’s Day to help forge a more gender equal world. As a firm we pride ourselves on having a workforce made up of over 69% women, with more than 50% in the partnership. However, we know that much work still has to be done in the legal sector and beyond.
An urgent inquiry into systemic racism in the NHS and how it manifests itself in maternity care was launched yesterday. The Inquiry has been convened by Birthrights: an organisation dedicated to improving women’s experience of pregnancy and childbirth.
Today will see the start of the UK’s first Race Equality Week (an initiative “to unite organisations and individuals in activity to address issues affecting ethnic minority employees”). Whilst initiatives like this and, indeed, the UK’s first ever Ethnicity Pay Gap Day (8 January 2021) are very welcome and a cause for celebration and hope in relation to such matters, there is much work yet to be done on the issue of race equality and we cannot afford to be complacent. The ethnicity pay gap is one aspect of this that still needs to be addressed, despite the recent publicity around it and the increasing pressure on Government to take action.
According to Diversity UK, in 2018 roughly 13.8% of the UK population was from a minority ethnic background and 40% of the population in London were from the Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) background.
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