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Introduction to Racism and Deficit Thinking in Education

What is racism and how does it show up in the school environment? This session explores this question and gives an overview of our main ideas and theories for how we begin to transform education for young people.

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Begin your anti-racist journey

This 2.5-hour session is specifically for people who want to begin having these important conversations around anti-racist education, and are interested in exploring strategies that will lead them to become an active threat to inequity.


Educators, youth workers, social workers, and even parents who are seeking to better understand the intersections of inequity will benefit from our unique and engaging approach.


During the session you will: 

  • Begin to understand the concepts of racism and deficit thinking 

  • Begin using your learning to locate your own role in perpetuating racism

  • Challenge some frequently used terms in anti-racist practice

  • Leave with reflective tools to support your anti-racist practice


We hope that after attending this session you will be encouraged to commit to our full course, (De)-Constructing An Anti-Racist Classroom, and begin to build your anti-oppressive practice with us.

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We are primarily interested in enabling participants to be able to better support themselves and gain the confidence they need to affirm all young people’s inherent capacity for success.


An anti-deficit thinking approach improves the confidence and self-efficacy of young people and empowers them to understand their own values, beliefs, cultures, and those of others.


Having a teacher who’s committed to anti-racist education helps young people to understand and realise their own rights and the rights of others within the school, within the community, and globally.

Affirming young people

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Modue 1

What is deficit thinking?

Deficit thinking is the idea that young people from various “at risk” groups fail in school due to their own “internal deficiencies”. This could be several different factors: home life, social and economic status, gender and race. 


Deficit thinking plays out in many subtle and overt ways in the school environment. And it’s safe to say that it’s impacting most young people in the UK today. We believe that deficit thinking plays a central role in enabling racism and other inequities to thrive in our education system.

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“Class 13 delivered this session to our whole staff (admin, LSAs, teachers etc). We explored many thought-provoking questions and had honest and open conversations about our school, our role as a school in society, what we want specifically for our children at Sebright, and how we can begin to make real change. The training was full of images, videos and quotes to unpick the topics and aid understanding. Class 13 is dedicated to helping change the education sector from the roots – in schools with educators. I encourage all educational settings to make time for this.”

Terry Corpe, Head of School, Sebright Primary School

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Further reading

We are on a mission to spread awareness of the harm deficit thinking is causing in the education system. Sign up now to receive a varied and accessible reading list.

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