School of Education
Research and Enterprise Conference


Keynote: 1pm – 1.45pm

Hopeful or hopeless? Race and teacher education in turbulent times


Professor Vini Lander

Director of the Centre for Race, Education and Decoloniality in the Carnegie School of Education, Leeds Beckett University, UK


The result of the Referendum in 2016 to leave the European Union and the subsequent rise in racist hate crimes demonstrated how racism is ever present in liberal democracies. This was highlighted by the Windrush Scandal in April 2018 when elderly people of African-Caribbean heritage having lived the majority of their lives in England were deported. The COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate effect on people of colour set against the perpetual pandemic of racism highlighted by the brutal murder of George Floyd in 2020 and the statistics
which demonstrate the pernicious presence of structural racism have increased a sense of precariousness which has heightened a sense of not belonging among Britain’s Black and global majority citizens. The continued absence of Black and global majority people in public office and academia reinforces this marginality.

Education policies continue to sustain the simultaneous notions of assimilation whilst
maintaining the discourse of the “Other” within. Teacher education in England continues to be part of an education system designed to assimilate Black, and global majority school students, be they newly arrived children of migrant families or born in England, through monocultural curricula which largely fail to reflect culturally and ethnically diverse lives. Using critical race theory and whiteness the paper examines policy silences and the avoidance of ‘race’ in teacher education practice through the narratives of teacher educators. The tools of whiteness framework (Picower, 2009) is used to analyse how policy and practice erase race from preservice teacher education.

These policy silences and omissions in teacher education practice are dissonant when we consider the increasingly diverse pupil population. This in turn is contrasted by a predominantly White teacher workforce which is mandated to promote fundamental British values, to act as
state instruments of surveillance to monitor students who are “not quite British enough”, to
advance Eurocentric curricula and thus perpetuate the dominant discourse of whiteness.

So, amidst the turbulent social and political milieu how can teacher education be cultivated as a place for hope and change? The presentation will examine how whiteness in teacher education can be disrupted to advance student teachers’ understanding of race and racism, and how they can become catalysts for hope and change.


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