What about us? The Recruitment, Retention and Progression of Black Teachers
NUT Black Teachers' Conference, October 2005
Camille London-Miyo, Rushey Mead School
The NUT Black Teachers' Conference was a brilliant event and an excellent opportunity to network with black teachers from all over the country.
Conference involved two days of talks, workshops and time to talk to other teachers. It was hard work, it was challenging, but most of all of it was worthwhile.
It provided me with further information on TLRs and gave me information about new initiatives and strategies, for example the work of the General Teaching Council and the work it was doing to develop a National Black Teachers' network. There have been times over the years where I have felt a little isolated because of the apparently small number of black teachers in Leicester. However, this conference provided the opportunity to see one of the largest numbers of black teachers talking about education in the UK. It brought to the fore recent issues that were happening in schools and provided various strategies in order to deal with them in a more proactive way.
I had been critical of the Union in the past, but Conference helped to highlight that the Union is about us. We make up the union and we have to take responsibility for what it is and how it acts within the wider community.
Reg Weaver (President of the National Education Association in the USA - the largest teaching union in North America) was the keynote speaker, and he was indeed very inspirational. Everyone came away from that talk with strategies and ideas about teaching.
The talk from Tom Lewis of the Teacher Support Network highlighted the fact that teachers from minority ethnic groups did not use the service as much as they could, and he was very informative about the various ways that the support line could help all teachers.
I attended two workshops:
• Building a National Network For Black Teachers, with representatives from the General Teaching Council, and
• "We Need to Know - Strategies for Success," led by Dr Lorna Cork from Birmingham.
Both workshops were excellent and oversubscribed. A film about the experience of dual heritage youngsters living in Sussex was shown, and this raised lots of issues about some of the negative experiences they faced living in a predominantly white community.
There was insufficient time to really get to talk to people, but lots of contacts were made and I left conference feeling really empowered to go on and encourage other black teachers in Leicester to sign up and go to this conference next year.
Writing this article was the first step. If you would like to know more about the 2005 conference please contact your local representative, and hopefully more information will be put on the RMS CPD website.