COVID in colour: the experiences of young Black and People of Colour Scots during the COVID-19 pandemic

Date: 9th October 2020
Category: UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimin, Non-discrimination

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Twelve young Anti-Racist and Pro-Black Ambassadors from Intercultural Youth Scotland led a consultation involving 63 young Black and People of Colour Scots aged 15 and over. The consultation’s aim was to shed light on young Black and People of Colour’s experiences, wellbeing, education, and perceived life opportunities arising from COVID-19.

The findings include:

  • Prior to lockdown, 63% of respondents had experienced or witnessed racism at their school. Almost half (45%) felt they had fewer opportunities than their White counterparts and that the pandemic has highlighted this unequal access to life opportunities.
  • Four out of 10 respondents (41%) reported that they had access to counselling services and almost five in 10 respondents (46%) felt they could talk to their teachers about their concerns.
  • More than a third of respondents (34%) felt they were coping well with the challenges of the lockdown, whereas a quarter (26%) felt they were not adjusting well.
  • Six out of 10 respondents (59%) reported that the lockdown had affected their motivation and inhibited their ability to progress with schoolwork.
  • More than a third (37%) reported feeling uncomfortable with the increased police presence during the pandemic and during the protests on the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
  • A majority of respondents (54%) reported feeling worried and scared by data that shows the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and People of Colour.
  • Half of the participants reported that they were able to access their school materials through the internet without disruption. However, the vast majority (75%) expressed difficulties in continuing their learning outside the classroom environment.
  • An overwhelming majority of respondents (91%) agreed or strongly agreed that the best solution to exam cancellation was to ask teachers to predict students’ grades.
  • Forty percent of respondents aged 15-18 did not believe that being a young Black student or a Student of colour would put them at a disadvantage when teachers predicted their grades. However, a significant proportion of respondents (34%) did believe that this would impact the teachers’ assessment.
  • Almost half of the respondents (47%) aged 15-18 years old believed that they would be disadvantaged when their grades were predicted because the SQA’s moderation of teacher estimates relied solely on the historic exam performance of schools.
  • Over half of the respondents (56%) did not think that universities would consider potential biases influencing predicted grades for Black and Students of colour.
  • The unexpected cancellation of exams due to Covid-19 was especially troubling given that more than half of the respondents (55%) aged 15-18 stated that they did not have a backup plan in case they did not receive the grades they expect.

Based upon these results, Intercultural Youth Scotland, The Anti-Racist Educator and Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators have created a set of recommendations for school staff, policymakers, government officials, parents, and anyone involved in the lives of young Black and People Of Colour Scots and children.