Leonie Barua – BAME Forum delegate
It was important to meet before Conference, discuss policy and how to reference back. I focused on reports of Early Years, Education and Skills (EYES) and Justice and Home Affairs Commissions. As delegate representing our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) members, I considered how policies and gaps in provision would impact BAME members and communities. I bore in mind concerns from our BAME Forum and submitted references back online in advance.
At Conference I made three references back, two re EYES and one re Justice and Home Affairs.
- Re the EYES report I made the following points:
English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) is the only reference to policy/provision for BAME adults with no mention of any provision for BAME children.
Lifelong educational policy must be specific about achievement and wellbeing of BAME learners and staff in every phase. Commitment to an inclusive, equitable National Education Service requires an ambitious and effective overarching plan for BAME students and staff, including migrant children, adult learners and refugees.
It needs a whole system approach and sufficient targeted funding to go far beyond restoring levels of provision under previous Labour Government, vital with rising racism.
- Teaching about climate change is crucial, and will have increasing significance. Reforming the curriculum should take account of this. However, debate around Brexit has exposed dangerous divisions in how we understand migration, including climate migration, climate refugees, belonging and empire and how these issues affect us all. They all need to be taught as part of a broader project of decolonising and diversifying a curriculum that is part of an inclusive and equitable National Education Service.
There should be funding for a future cross disciplinary programme to support teachers in teaching these sensitive topics to all secondary school students and highlighting how they shape all our identities and our behaviour to others.
- From Justice and Home Affairs Report
Abolition of the hostile environment is essential. This Report focuses on deportation and detention but fails to mention discriminatory and unjust visa systems, with outsourcing leading to rising costs, higher income thresholds and profiteering. This affects more and more people, causing increasing levels of stress and misery.
The Report also fails to mention this government declaring asylum seeking children may not be able to reunite with their families in the event we leave the EU with or without a deal. The Labour Party must affirm its commitment to family reunion, to the right to a family life under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights as well as to wholesale reform of visa processes.
The second reference back passed re decolonising the curriculum.
There were more BAME delegates than previously and many spoke. However, this is not enough: BAME members and forums should be meaningfully consulted at every stage of policy creation. Policy overall was weak here, with many gaps eg re health.
BAME issues should be reflected in all Conference motions and processes.
That such progressive motions (esp. on immigration) passed unanimously on Wednesday morning represented a remarkable degree of consensus and strength of feeling on these issues. These motions must continue to inform debate and statements of principle, despite ‘watering down’ during subsequent Clause 5 meeting.
We are still waiting for decisions from the NEC re BAME Labour issues following the Democracy Review.