Racial Justice in our schools

The Diocese of Bristol is dedicated to applying the recommendations of the ‘From Lament to Action’ report and recognises the critical importance of engaging in racial justice work with urgency. This commitment forms a fundamental part of our ‘Transforming Church. Together’ vision, which aims to establish communities where every individual is valued and included. 

By prioritising this vital work in our schools, we seek to nurture supportive and inclusive environments throughout the Diocese, ensuring that all our students feel a sense of belonging and can thrive in their educational environment. 

“We did not do justice in the past. We do not do justice now. And unless we are radical and decisive in this area in the future, we will still be having this conversation in 20 years’ time and still doing injustice, the few of us that remain, deservedly.” - Archbishop of Canterbury (2020) 

Our commitment

On 8 June 2020, the Rt Revd Vivienne Faull, Bishop of Bristol, made a series of public commitments, highlighting the need to tackle racial injustice across the Diocese of Bristol. 

  • Acknowledge and repent of the Church’s past involvement in and benefit from the slave trade; 
  • Challenge and address institutional racism, listening to and learning from the experiences of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people; 
  • Recruit and support more Black, Asian and minority ethnic clergy, staff, and volunteers; 
  • Make our churches truly welcoming to everyone, taking responsibility for the need for profound cultural change in our Church. 
  • Work with others in the Diocese of Bristol and the Church of England to bring these things about. 

“Our record in this area in the Church of England is not good and I begin by acknowledging past failures in this Diocese to implement Church of England initiatives requiring us to make changes. This has simply not been a priority. For me, racial justice (alongside care for our planet and care for those who are poor) goes to the very heart of the gospel. Jesus died on the cross for all. If we limit God’s love, fail to be a church for everyone, we betray the gospel. It is that simple.” – Rt Revd Vivienne Faull, Bishop of Bristol

What is the Education team doing to meet this pledge? 

The Diocesan Deputy Director of Education (DDDE) and Schools Adviser has completed modules 1-3 of the Inclusive Curriculum Framework training in association with the Church of England Foundation for Educational Leadership (CEFEL) and the Institute for Leadership and Management. Several outcomes have arisen from their involvement in this training. 

The training involved three areas of learning: 

  1. Unconscious bias 
  2. Inclusive Curriculum Framework (ICF) 
  3. Anti-Racist Pedagogy (ARP) 

The DDDE is now a member of the regional Diversity, Equality, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) group across Southwest Dioceses, leading and engaging in conversation about how best to develop practice and guidance for schools in all aspects of racial justice and inclusion. In partnership with Salisbury, Exeter, and Truro Diocese we hope to develop clear policies and guidance and training for schools around inclusive language, RE curriculum development and ‘moving beyond tokenism’. 

In addition, the DDDE has joined the Inclusion Group of the Diocesan Board of Finance. This group are contributing in many ways to the development of culture change within the staff of the diocesan office. This involves various areas of learning and events around all areas of DEIJ. The learning and involvement in this programme will feed further into schools' advice and guidance. 

What does racial justice look like in our schools? 

We are encouraging our educators to identify and dismantle systems, policies, and practices that create disadvantages. We want to ensure that every student, regardless of their background, has equal access to education and opportunities. 

With this work we hope to equip the next generation with skills to competently navigate diverse cultural spaces and challenge biases across our Diocese. Through collaboration with educators, we hope to enable our schools to empower their students in building a more equitable and inclusive society.

School leaders working group

In 2025-26 we will develop a school leader working group to disseminate the learning on ICF and ARP and consider how to best engage schools in these programmes. Volunteer schools will pilot the frameworks and share feedback and impact with schools across the Diocese. 

The WIRE Award (Widening Inclusivity in Religious Education)

The WIRE Award was created in South Gloucestershire and has now spread to be used by all the representative Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education (SACREs) in our Diocese – Swindon, Bristol, and Wiltshire. 

To date over 40 schools have received the award and now 12 have also achieved the ‘WIRE Gold’, which was launched as a next step in 2019. 

Children sat in school at a WIRE Awards event   WIRE Award certificate

Diverse book lists 

Our School Advisers have developed two evolving book lists on spirituality and religious education, with a focus on diversity. 

Book cover - He's got the whole world in his hands by Kadir Nelson Book cover - The proudest blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad Book cover - The boy at the back of the class by Onjali Rauf

In the creation of these book lists, we hope that all pupils and staff can see themselves represented in their school curriculum and resources, and these materials should reflect the outside world in all its diversity, regardless of how diverse the immediate community may or may not be. Quality diverse children’s texts contribute significantly to this experience. We include these texts as examples in our training on RE, spiritual development and collective worship as well as our Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS) training. 

Additional resources 

Read about the 2024 annual RE conference: Let's talk about race - the power of RE to make a change

Hear about the Interfaith RE Day for South Gloucestershire Schools: Different and the same!

Contact our education team to discuss how you can implement changes in your school.

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