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Royal Central School pledges series of actions to address ‘structural racism’

Students and staff gathered outside Central on May 11 in support of systematic change within the institution Students and staff gathered outside Central on May 11 in support of systematic change within the institution
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Royal Central School of Speech and Drama has promised a series of actions to address “unconscious and structural racism”, including an independent review of its diversity policies.

This follows a walkout on May 11, when about 250 students and staff members gathered outside the London school in support of systematic change within the institution, sparked by its earlier debate on diversity, Dear White Central.

Central principal Gavin Henderson faces calls to resign over diversity quotas remarks

Central’s governing body released a statement following a board meeting on May 14, at which governors discussed issues raised by students, and produced a list of aims to improve inclusion.

These include:

  • Commissioning an external and independent review of the processes of diversity within all aspects of Central’s work.
  • Implementing an action plan following the audit of diversity.
  • Reviewing and extending existing admission targets for black, Asian and minority ethnic students.
  • Creating a new inclusion and diversity officer role at the school.
  • Developing induction materials for new students and staff on inclusion.

Responding to earlier comments made by principal Gavin Henderson, in which he implied that introducing quotas for BAME students could be a risk to the quality of the student body, the statement said: “The school and its leadership team would like categorically to state that it does not believe that student quotas or targets are in themselves a risk to standards or quality.

“Neither does Central associate the recruitment of students of staff from any socio-economic or ethnic background or with any protected characteristic, with a particular risk to standard.”

The statement added that Central “stands against racism”, but admitted that “institutional racism can be unconscious and structural”.

As part of its actions for change, Central has pledged to increase student membership on its Access, Participation, Progression and Inclusion Committee and to implement a programme of unconscious bias training for the governors and all staff, including the principal.

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