Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions

To receive any questions or petitions from members of the public.


(NOTE: There is a time limit of up to 30 minutes for the above item of business. In accordance with the arrangements published on the Council’s website, questions/petitions at the meeting are required to be submitted in writing, to, by 9.00 a.m. on Monday 19th June, 2023).
















































































































































The Committee received 9 public questions from Racism Sheffield. The Lead Questioner, Fatima Salim, read many of the questions alongside other members of the group. Ms Salim asked:


‘Those who know racism happens behind the scenes, do nothing, or defend their position knowing that they are wrong, are just as complicit as the perpetrators. If this type of matter comes to the public arena, we want to know if politicians will apologise, whether staff will be held to account, or will this it all be brushed under the carpet?’


Councillor Dale provided a response as follows:


The recent Race Equality Commission in Sheffield has concluded that racism and racial disparities remain significant in the lives of Sheffield citizens. Sheffield City Council is committed to ensuring positive action is taken to address these issues. We are committed to becoming an Anti-racist City.


We are working hard to ensure we collect data and have measurable targets to monitor and oversee both how we deliver our services in the community and to POC but also how we look to employ people from our diverse communities.  We are also a learning organisation that looks to educate and develop our leaders and learn from both good and bad experiences and where people believe they have been aggrieved. We will apologise when we get things wrong. We will look to learn and work in collaboration to get things right.


We are looking over the next year to work with Schools and MAT in partnership with Learn Sheffield to increase diversity on Governing Bodies to represent the communities and pupils they serve and also to focus on Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion and to play there part in ensuring Sheffield is an anti-racist City.


We encourage all schools to ensure that there is a culture where racism can be reported and that it is thoroughly investigated, and appropriate actions taken. Sheffield City Council is committed to working with schools to ensure racism is challenged and inclusivity is at the heart of education across the city.’


Question two was as follows: ‘Everyone knows that POC have to work twice if not 3 times as hard just to be recognised if they want to be in leadership positions. Could you tell us how are you supporting current POC in leadership positions and how will you ensure they will always have a fair chance at leadership so that young BAME students can have achievable aspirations?’


Councillor Dale provided the following response: ‘The Race Equality Commission in June 2022 stated that perceptions of bias emerged as a factor in how professionals across sectors experienced there working life. There is a commitment that Sheffield will be an Anti-Racist City. Over the next academic year Sheffield City Council will continue to work to ensure that there are equal opportunities to progress into leadership roles and we will actively engage with POC in leadership roles or aspiring to be leaders to understand barriers and together find solutions. Sheffield City Council with regard to the Family and Children’s Committee will again share the Race Equality Commission findings with all education institutions and childcare providers in the City and work with them to look at how we ensure that all our employees have equal access and opportunity for leadership roles.’


Question three was as follows: ‘How many headteachers do you have of colour in Sheffield? What support, safe space, have they been given? If not, why?’


Councillor Dale provided the following response: ‘Sheffield City Council does not hold the number of headteachers of colour working in the City. Each individual school whether Local Authority or Academy maintains its own record of this information as they are the employer. Sheffield City Council always looks to provide support when requested by the school as an employer. Schools however provide their own pastoral support to their employees and have their own Human Resource facilities.  We however recognise this is possibly an area for development and will work with our education institutions and leaders over the coming year to identify and issues and work collectively including with employees and leaders of colour to find better solutions.’


Question four was as follows: ‘As there are only 4 POC headteachers currently in Sheffield, what has the head of education and offices done to protect them? If they are not protected, how do we expect our POC children to be protected?’


Councillor Dale provided the following response: ‘Sheffield City Council is committed to lead on becoming an Anti-Racist City. We value all our headteachers who work across the City in both Local Authority Maintained Schools and Academies. Headteachers are employed by their school organisation and as such are provided support by their Chair of Governors and Governing Body or Trust.  The question suggests that more can be done to support Headteachers who are POC. The new Strategic Director of Children’s Services has offered an open invitation to speak to leaders and headteachers of colour over her first few weeks and will prioritise this to understand barriers and issues that are faced by these valued leaders in our City who role model possibilities and opportunities for our children.’


Question five was as follows: ‘What are you doing to support women of colour in senior positions in schools?’


Councillor Dale provided the following response: ‘The new Strategic Director of Children’s Services along with her team are committed to ensuring Sheffield is an Anti-Racist City.  She has offered an open door to all leaders of colour to look at any additional support that can be offered and how we share good practice across all education institutions.’


Question 6 was as follows: ‘We are aware of the race commission that Sheffield has just had. Can you tell us how systemic racism in the Sheffield education system is being monitored? And do officers and people in power know what this looks like?’


Councillor Dale provided the following response: ‘Sheffield City Council commissioned the report and are acting on its recommendations. There are specific actions overseen by this committee to ensure we work towards an Anti-Racist City and organisation. Senior leaders work hard to understand the concepts of implicit and explicit racism and unconscious bias and look to listen and co-produce solutions with POC and with underrepresented groups in Sheffield. Senior leaders strive to actively promote equality, diversity, and inclusion.


We are committed through our action plan to:


·       Collect accurate data of school governance, leadership teams, teaching and support staff diversity for LA maintained schools

·       Further develop EDI resources including guidance and training to support schools and schools’ staff including racial literacy and cultural competency.

·       Promote equality related awareness days across schools

·       Work with Learn Sheffield to keep the REC as an agenda item on Governors, CEO’s briefings to share and collate information and best practice.

·       Governor and staff recruitment are anonymised and governors are brought together every 6 months to share practice/experiences. Continue to support and develop opportunities for governors from Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnic backgrounds.

·       Support the early years sector by convening regular meetings to address issues of race and EDI and signposting to agencies who can support them further.

·       Support a Locality approach through our education localities. Develop a programme of inclusive engagement, linked to the local population, start with the priority areas where we know improvements are needed.

·       Support the Early Years Sector through three twilight sessions as well as carry out setting visits to support on a one-to-one basis.  We deliver training ‘Introduction to … Inclusive environments’ which supports settings in creating a warm and welcoming environment within their early years provision.

·       Whilst recruitment and retention in Early Years is a national issue, Sheffield is working with colleges and universities to encourage people into the workforce or to develop their skills further. To share good practice, we deliver city wide networking events and briefings as well as training opportunities.  


Sheffield City Council is committed to working with POC and with lived experience to ensure these are the right priorities for the coming year to ensure we promote an Anti-Racist approach across all our partners and educational institutions.’                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 



























































Question 7 was as follows: ‘Have senior council officers and members had training to understand what racism can look l like and if an allegation is made is their tactic to defend rather than address?’


Councillor Dale provided the following response: ‘The second action  of the Race Equality Commission was that organisations need to invest in educating and developing leaders and employees. There is already training which is provided. Over the coming few months we will be reviewing this to ensure that it meets the requirement to become an Anti-Racist City.  We will also work with schools through Learn Sheffield to review current race equality training to ensure it meets our objective.’


Question 8 was as follows: ‘Are you aware that POC teachers will have more allegations made against them than white teachers. How is this being monitored in Sheffield? Do you value people in leadership and do you see this as a benefit to our young children?’


Councillor Dale responded as follows: ‘Governing Bodies are responsible for complaints made about their school both by pupils, parents and their employees.  As a Council that is leading an anti-racist approach we are committed to working with educational institutions to support this agenda. We value leaders and want to ensure that all communities in Sheffield are fairly represented and heard – this is essential on a number of levels and not least for our future generation both for their opportunities and the diversity they bring to our City.’


Question 9 was as follows: ‘Like many industries, the education system in Sheffield is built on systemic and institutionalised racism. As it your responsibility, what has the head of education and officers done to ensure diversity amongst teachers and specifically within leadership?’


Councillor Dale responded as follows: ‘The Race Equality Commission from June 2022 ‘The Race Equality Commission (REC) has concluded that racism and racial disparities remain significant in the lives of Sheffield’s citizens. What has been shared with the Commission spans education, crime, justice and policing, sport and culture, health, business and employment, civic life and communities, and more. The perpetuation of racism, and racial disparities across sectors and major institutions in the city compel the Commission to restate the urgency to instigate positive measures and improvements in organisations and among its citizenry’. We are committed to addressing these issues and look to learn from lived experience to ensure we are an Anti-Racist City.


The one year on actions that have been delivered to move the organisation and city closer to becoming Anti-Racist is being published imminently. This will and has included a focus by Council Officer’s when visiting schools and education institutions to discuss the Race Equality Commission and possible implications. We have been reviewing the training package for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion meeting with providers to discuss possibilities. We have shared good practice about equality awareness days in schools which has been well received. We have been working with Learn Sheffield on raising the profile of Race Equality Commission recommendations and priorities.  We have far more work to do in this area and will review our actions and also progress over the coming months working closely with members of the community and the Education, Children’s and Families Policy Committee.’


Ms Salim expressed unhappiness with the answers provided by the Committee, and stated she felt they were formal. She asked the Committee to state what was being done currently to address racism in the Education system. Councillor Dale offered to create meetings with Racism Sheffield and encouraged the public speakers to attend future meetings and to hold the Committee to account if they felt commitments were not being met. Councillor Dale stated this had been added to the Work Programme and that this would be looked at over the coming year.