Making change: a year in review – Our actions to promote inclusion and opportunity for the black community

In support of the Black Lives Matter movement, in July 2020, we launched our action plan ‘Making Change: Promoting inclusion and opportunity for the black community. We made a pledge to do better. To make progress to eradicate racism and create positive change.
Since this time, we have developed several initiatives across four areas of our education business:
  • Curriculum Design & Student Experience
  • Community Outreach
  • Recruitment
  • Training and Development
Chris Stacey

“Despite the challenges of COVID, promoting inclusion for the black community has remained a priority. I am extremely proud to share our key achievements to date. Across the four streams, we have made significant progress. Thank you to those individuals who have got involved in this work. We will continue our commitment to making our organisation diverse and inclusive, both now and in the future.”

Chris Stacey 

CEO, CATS Global Schools 

The changes we have made

Here we share our year in review, providing insight into our key achievements so far and the steps we are taking to drive fundamental change.

Community Outreach

A fully-funded ‘Access All Areas’ Scholarship for an Arts Student

Continuing a successful partnership with Hearst UK, Cambridge School of Visual & Performing Arts recently launched a full scholarship programme with Cosmopolitan to encourage accessibility and diversity in the fashion and creative industries. We have promoted our ‘Access All Areas’ Scholarship and encouraged applications from under-represented groups in the community.
It offers one successful applicant a scholarship for any of the CSVPA arts, design and performing arts courses (including Extended Diplomas, Foundation, BA (Hons) or Masters). Applicants are invited to #showusyourvision and either submit content on their preferred social media channel or send their idea by post/email with a written statement and portfolio.
Karin Askham

“We are delighted to continue our important partnership with Hearst UK. Our equal opportunities policy reflects our belief in cultural diversity that embraces individuals and promotes community spirit. By creating a working, learning and social environment in which students can utilise their skills and talents to the full without fear of prejudice or harassment, we aim to create a culture where everyone can reach their fullest potential.”

Karin Askham

Rector, CSVPA

A scholarship in partnership with Expressions Basketball

CATS Boston has created a scholarship programme, in partnership with local basketball team and private non-profit organisation, Expressions Basketball.
New for 2021 is the development of a scholarship programme, which builds on a student’s academic studies. In partnership with Expressions, CATS Boston have successfully offered two students basketball scholarships.

“We have developed a strong relationship with Expressions Basketball. Basketball in the United States has been a way out for many black students who find themselves in tough situations. This relationship has allowed us to meet students and their families and provide opportunity for our black community.”

Ben Bonaventura

Head of School, CATS Boston

Curriculum Design & Student Experience

An inspiring guest lecture programme at CATS Boston

First in a series of talks led by the diversity group, was Danny Bonaventura, who delivered a lecture at CATS Boston. His talk on “Why Black Lives Matter to Me and Why They Should Matter to You” covered his experiences growing up in a multi-cultural community – as a child of two teachers who worked in a diverse New York public school, as a student, athlete, and now as Director of Internships for Athletes at the University of Pittsburgh. He encouraged students to research BLM and to involve themselves in anti-racism. The entire school, students and staff participated in the online presentation, and it was shared with other schools around the group.

Our most recent guest lecturer was Rohan Murphy, a black Paralympian and motivational speaker, who helped continue this dialogue. Rohan delivered a motivational presentation to all staff and students at CATS Boston. He shared his experiences and the challenges he has overcome. He encouraged participants to accept differences, overcome adversity and live life with a purpose. Some students and faculty members said it was a “life-changing experience”. 

CATS London named as a Pearson’s ‘Lit in Colour Pioneer’

With 18,000 students from 100 nationalities across our schools and the purpose of inspiring the next generation of world shapers, we are dedicated to making our curriculums more diverse. CATS London is doing this by broadening the field of study for class texts and therefore students’ perspective and knowledge of global literature.
The Lit in Colour Pioneers Programme
Pearson, Penguin and The Runnymede Trust have joined forces, encouraging schools to make the switch to a more diverse English Literature curriculum. CATS London was one of 100 secondary schools and colleges across the UK selected to take part in the ‘Lit in Colour Pioneers Programme’.
CATS London has received a Lit in Colour mini library (including 300 texts from Black, Asian and minority ethnic writers), resources and training for teachers, networking events and a student ambassador programme.

“Diversifying our curriculum (across the programmes A Level / UFP) has been a focus for several years now. However, the Lit in Colour Pioneers programme and specifically the 300 texts from diverse writers, will be an invaluable resource in broadening our scope of texts further. The programme will also enable our students to network with students from other colleges and share their ideas on a wider scale”.

Gemma Gouyette

Curriculum Director for Languages, Arts and Humanities, CATS London

Other successes
  • The CATS Diversity Committees are student-led groups, which are now established at CATS UK and US schools. Members have been conducting curriculum audits, initiating conversations with their peers and teachers on complex and often uncomfortable topics, such as racism and discrimination.
  • Progress is underway on reviewing and improving Schemes of Work in our schools to make them more diverse. For example, the French teachers at CATS London have developed the syllabus, to promote diversity in lessons through film and historical documents.
  • A student at CATS London has created a social change website, which was shared with other peers. This will be used as a spearhead for student-led resource next academic year.

Learning & Development

Delivery of group-wide Discussion Groups

We have delivered three group-wide Discussion Groups, covering the topics: Representation, Behaviour and Reflections of Race Privilege. These sessions aim to discuss issues, listen and, most of all, commit to embedding change within our organisation.
In the new academic year, we aim to offer these discussion group opportunities monthly.

Hosted an event with Everyday Racism

We have built a partnership with Everyday Racism, who hosted our anti-racism training session on 2 June. Anti-racist writers and educators, Natalie and Naomi, shared their story of creating the platform @everydayracism_, which has grown to a following of over 145,000 in less than twelve months. They introduced the session by explaining some of the reasons why the conversation about anti-racism has blown wide open using examples from their own experiences and the wider global context.
The session was fully booked with 40 employees attending, and a recording of the session is available for those who were unable to attend in person.

A programme to celebrate black achievement

Black History Month has been celebrated across schools. At CATS London, resources are shared with staff each week by Attendance Officer, Marilyn Gentle-Walsh, who has a personal passion for BLM and black history. The library of content has been created that covers black history and celebrates black achievement, ensuring this is an ongoing conversation. The resource library includes literature, reports and articles on race, which have also helped to shape our Discussion Group topics.


Unconscious bias training for staff and hiring managers

95% of colleagues in management positions and hiring managers have attended mandatory unconscious bias training.
Other successes
  • Developed relationships with a selection of organisations to attract job applications from the black community, such as Action for Black Minority and Ethnic Communities Cambridgeshire and Ethnic Minority Council Canterbury.
  • Progress is underway to create a jobs fair calendar so that we can better reach the black community.

Next steps

We understand that this is a process of continuous improvement, and whilst we have made great progress, our work does not stop here. Our achievements over the last year have given us a blueprint, which we can take forward and build upon, to create long-term change and promote opportunity for the black community.

Over the next 3 months, we will:

  • Build a space where we can share content, articles, and insights relating to Black Lives Matter
  • Continue hosting our Discussion Groups with the addition of guest speakers.
  • Plan UK Black History Month activities across our school communities in preparation for October.