In tribute to Betty Campbell, Wales’ first black head teacher, and for the sake of our young people, the Cabinet Secretary for Education should launch an initiative to increase the number of black and ethnic minority teachers in Welsh schools.
Wales’ first black head teacher, Betty Campbell, who has died aged 82, had to overcome major obstacles, in particular entrenched racism, to achieve her dream of becoming a teacher. We offer our condolences to her family and many friends.
An inspiring teacher and community champion in Butetown, Cardiff, Betty was an outstanding role model for young black people, particularly girls.
Unfortunately role models like Mrs Campbell are still scarce in Welsh schools. This emerged during consultations by Egino – as recently as 2016 – on proposals for breaking the links between poverty and ethnicity in Wales.
Both educationalists and community representatives participating in a round table on education, held in Butetown, stressed the importance of action to increase black and ethnic minority role models in schools.
Whether or not the problem results from a lack of applications from black and ethnic minority students or of applicants not being accepted on to teacher training programmes in adequate numbers is not sufficiently clear.
What is clear is that schools and education authorities need to recognise the impact of role models on performance and expectations. They also need to recognise that there is a problem and work towards recruiting more black and ethnic minority teachers.
Participants in our consultation argued for a Welsh Government action plan to bring about improvements, including active encouragement for black and ethnic minority students to become teachers, targets for school appointments of teaching and support staff, and analysis of universities’ and schools’ recruitment policies.
An action plan to increase black and ethnic minority role models in schools would be a fitting tribute to Betty Campbell, and boost young peoples’ prospects. The Cabinet Secretary for Education should give it urgent consideration.
Blog author: Lila Haines
JRF Viewpoint: Breaking the links between poverty and ethnicity in Wales
Viewpoint authors: Anna Nicholl, Chris Johnes and Duncan Holtom
Print copies are also available, in English and Welsh, from [email protected]
Note: This represents the author’s views and interpretations and does not necessarily reflect the position of any other organisation or individual.