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Anti-racist teaching practice: 3 first steps

By Omena O. - 8 Jan 2024

Guest blogger, Omena O, Primary School teacher and Diversity and Equity in the Curriculum consultant, shares essential information about creating an inclusive classroom.


Connect with Omena on Instagram: @afro_brit.educator or on Twitter: @BritAfro

Inclusive and anti-racist teaching is needed now more than ever, to better serve the increasingly multicultural next generation. Yet, transformation can be a daunting prospect when considering where to start on this continuous journey of learning and reflection.

We are all travelling the road of learning and unlearning, and it is all of our responsibility. Not just the few global majority (Black and brown) members of staff. This requires us to unlearn our experience of British education, and elements of our training in institutions which have historically adopted a ‘colour-blind’ approach.

This article aims to offer three introductory steps for educators beginning to critically reflect on their teaching practice.

  1. Lay your foundational knowledge
  2. Be a reflective practitioner
  3. Get connected

1. Lay your foundational knowledge

Post-BLM 2020 there’s now a wealth of contemporary Black and brown British, anti-racist scholarship. Resources offer insights into Black and brown British experience, and the colonial history of Britain resulting in the multicultural society we live in today.

Take a look at the crib sheet of my recommendations, including some excellent starting points such as Reni Eddo-Lodge's 'Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race,' Akala's 'Natives,' and Peter Fryer's 'Black People in the British Empire.' For those pressed for time, audiobooks, podcasts and YouTube videos are available. Alongside, quick reads such as reports from The Black Curriculum (Arday 2021) and The Runnymede Trust (Joseph-Salisbury 2020), which shed light on the continuing racialised inequities in education. Personally, when first engaging in anti-racist practice as an educator, I found Dr Muna Abdi’s channel on decoloniality and anti-racism in education to be engaging and thought-provoking.

Once you’ve gained an awareness of the social histories leading to today’s context, and the major inequities in education; consider developing your learners’ foundational knowledge. Anti-racist Education’s free Key Stage 1- 4 resources are a great place to start, as these sessions begin with the social construction of racial categories and what this means for racialised peoples (Black and brown/ global majority).

2. Be a reflective practitioner

While engaging with anti-racist thought, it’s crucial to reflect on your own racial and cultural background. Being reflexive involves examining your positions of power, privilege, or lack thereof, both in and out of the classroom.

Ask yourself critical questions that illuminate your position and regularly self-reflect, such as:

  • What identities do you embody? (Ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socio-economic background, neuro and physical abilities, religion/belief, language(s), citizenship status, etc.).
  • How does this manifest in your interactions with students, colleagues, parents and other stakeholders in education?
  • When or where do you feel most comfortable/ uncomfortable, and why?

A reflective journal can aid in documenting your journey and grappling with challenges.

Be intentional.
With the greatest will in the world, we aren’t totally impartial. Everything is a subjective choice: from the topics selected and perspectives included; the imagery and material presented; to our implementation of school policy (especially behaviour, exclusions and uniform); classroom management and relationships with pupils. Recognising the subjectivity inherent in our professional choices allows us to be more intentional in our decisions.

Be ready to be open and honest.
Critical reflection should extend to teaching methods. Thus consulting pupils and incorporating diverse knowledges and perspectives ensures a more inclusive learning experience.

During learner focus groups for my MA research, I was reminded of the power and importance in pupil voice and co-production of knowledge (Ladson-Billings 2014). No-one can tell us how learning is received more authentically than learners themselves. Prefacing lessons with your position or how you relate to material, without imposing personal beliefs, fosters an open forum for learners to also share their perspective and experience. This supports learners’ critical thinking as they begin to understand why people have differing perspectives and experiences, and critique varying positons of power.

In order for education to be ‘the practice of freedom’, bell hooks suggests that as educators we should bring our full selves to the classroom, creating an environment that enables transgressions against and beyond boundaries:

3. Get connected

This work is challenging, and at times lonesome.

Building connections with others committed to anti-racist and inclusive practice is vital. Engaging with teacher networks and community organisations, in-person and online, provides a platform for sharing ideas, resources, and experience. Engaging with a diverse range of opinions and perspectives offers opportunities for dialogue and continuous learning. Whilst also strengthening resolve and enhancing self-awareness- again of your positioning and embodied identities.

Ultimately, start small and stay critical.

Developing inclusive, anti-racist practice starts with small, intentional steps. Continuous evaluation and adaptation of pedagogy, to our globalised world and the changing needs of your school community, coupled with building connections within and outside of your setting.

Go ahead, begin the transformative dialogue with yourself, colleagues and learners, on the road to anti-racist education!

(All mentioned resources are linked in the crib sheet, unless hyperlinked here).


  1. The demographic of the pupil population in England and Wales is becoming increasingly non-White, with 1 in 3 children from global majority backgrounds (GOV.UK 2023).
  2. Networks such as Aspiring Heads, Black Men Teach, the BAMEEd Network, BLAM UK, DiverseEd, the Ambition Institute, Class 13, Mission 44 and the GEC (Global Equality Collective).