On 8th January, Katherin and Valentina gave a workshop titled Inequalities and bias in schools: reasons, research and reactions at Gracemount Primary School in Edinburgh. The event was organised as part of the school January in-service day and involved more than 50 members of staff including teachers, nursery staff, Pupil Support Assistants, and office staff.
The workshop started with an overview of ‘traditional’ and recent academic research on socioeconomic and ethnic inequalities in education, focusing particularly on the role of teacher-student relationships and on recent evidence on achievement gaps in Scotland and England.
Gracemount school staff was then guided through two main interactive, reflective, and creative group activities. The first activity focused on encouraging workshop participants to critically discuss BIPE preliminary findings on teacher bias. Then to share their own experiences and views on potential mechanisms and explanations for misunderstandings and misperceptions between teachers and school staff on one side and pupils and their families on their other. The second activity gave the staff the opportunity to reflect on their own school and classroom practices and experiences in order to develop practical strategies to tackle bias and inequalities in the context of Gracemount school itself.
Initial feedback from participants was very positive, demonstrating a great deal of interest in the topic addressed by the workshop and its interactive activities. Participants said that, as a result, they felt encouraged to challenge themselves as teachers and education practitioners.
For example, one participant reported how the workshop might motivate themselves and other teachers to:
[…] become more aware of their biases[,] keep themselves accountable for how the children are perceived, [l]ook at our own behaviour and how it impacts our teaching[, and b]e honest with ourselves.