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Exceptional Education at the Heart of the Community

Break the Cycle

Generating racial equity in education leadership

Break the Cycle is a national grassroots movement committed to promoting Black, Asian and minority ethnic leadership across education and youth work in the UK.

The Break the Cycle Manifesto is an action plan for all schools and their communities as we work to challenge and change the cultures that hold back the next generation of BAME leadership.

 The current massive under-representation of BAME leaders with Children and Young People – especially at senior levels – fails all our children and teachers as well as our whole society.  This must change in order to:

  • Tackle racism in and beyond our schools
  • Encourage BAME students to aspire to the highest levels of leadership
  • Address the unconscious bias that leadership is white


The Break the Cycle movement is supported by a Manifesto and an Action Plan for local communities. These are designed to help individual schools and our ‘local task groups’ challenge and change the cultures that hold back the next generation of BAME leadership

We have failed generations of BAME students.  Growing up mixed-race, with an Indian father, in the 1960s, the only role models I had at school were white.  The fact that kids today, 50 plus years later, are experiencing the same distorted view of our society is unacceptable. It is time to break the cycle of racism and unconscious bias. It’s time for change.

Steve Chalke, MBE, Founder of Oasis

Who are Break the Cycle?

The Break the Cycle movement was initiated by a small group of BAME leaders in education to look at how, working alongside others already in this field, they might help to:

  • Transform the attitudes and cultures that hold back the next generation of BAME leaders in both primary and secondary education.
  • Raise the expectations and opportunities for BAME students. 

Together the group reached the conclusion that nothing short of a national grassroots initiative was needed in order to make the change that everyone wants to see. They now serve as the Break the Cycle steering group.

The Break the Cycle Manifesto

The Break the Cycle Manifesto is an action plan for all schools – primary and secondary – committed to challenging and changing the cultures that hold back the next generation of BAME leadership.

It was written and launched at a national conference held in central London on 2019 with Damian Hinds MP (the Secretary of State for Education), Baroness Valerie Amos, (Director of SOAS, University of London), Lord Michael Hastings (Chancellor of Regents University, London), Steve Chalke (Founder of Oasis Community Learning) and more.

The attendees of the first national conference worked together to:

  • Produce the Break the Cycle Manifesto, to present it to the Education Secretary and to publish it for use by schools and our local task groups around the UK.
  • Initiate a framework for the development of our local task groups whose task it now is to spread the word, work with existing networks, organisations and schools to press this important agenda and movement forward.
  • Establish the Break the Cycle Kite-Mark for use on the websites, job adverts and publicity of primary and secondary schools who are working toward the goals of the manifesto.
  • To network with each other to create supportive partnerships with existing organisations so that we work together to achieve change.

 

A local action plan

How to set up your own local or regional Break the Cycle Task Group:

1. Invite senior leaders from your school/local schools as well as BAME teaching and non-teaching staff.

2. Using the Break the Cycle Manifesto as your ongoing agenda commit to:

  • Meet at regular intervals (a minimum of once every two months).
  • Establish a small leadership executive team.
  • Always review the outcomes of your last meeting.
  • Tackle a least one of the ten clauses of the Break the Cycle Manifesto each time you meet.
  • Use the meeting to establish some achievable (SMART) outcomes, which you will work towards over the coming weeks and months.
  • Publicise your work in staff rooms, shops, community centres etc. around your local community.
  • Contact your Local Council Leader with your ideas.
  • Invite more schools – both primary and secondary – to join you.
  • Make sure that you create and develop local alliances and good, supportive working relationships with other active BAME campaign groups.

3. Four questions for your first meeting:

  • Does the leadership of your school reflect the ethnic makeup of the local community?
  • If not, what are the impacts of this?
  • How will you work to rectify this situation?
  • How can you get other schools on-board with your initiative?

4. Who else can you invite or involve in your action group to add impetus? Link with national and local networks such as BAMEed or local council members, or MP.