A new venture between Liverpool Hope University and Liverpool City Council is looking to boost the number of people from the BAME community working in teaching and social work.
Thirty places will be available for BAME applicants when the initiative begins in September 2021, divided equally between social work and teaching courses.
“There’s a marked under-representation of social workers and teachers from the BAME community in Liverpool, despite the city having a large, well-established BAME community,” said Professor Michael Lavalette, head of the university’s School of Social Sciences.
Part of the problem, he added, was that the demand to study in these areas often greatly exceeds the number of places available.
“In recent years at Liverpool Hope University we had, for example, around 450 applications each year for around 25-30 places on our three-year BA in social work. This scheme means we’ll actually be able to increase our capacity overall.”
Our failure to enhance opportunities for the BAME stems from perpetually using the same model again and again – Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Anna Rothery
One of the driving forces behind the project has been Anna Rothery, the city’s first black Lord Mayor.
“I came through an access to education programme myself, and that was a real lifeline for me, giving me the confidence to go into higher education,” she said.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that anybody given the right alignment of opportunities and support, as I’ve been given, can achieve anything.
“This has never been about ability within the BAME community – it has always been about accessibility.”
Historically, said Cllr Rothery, many BAME graduates have become “eternal students”, excelling in their studies yet unable to secure employment in the city. To that end, project applicants will be offered pre-training ahead of the courses, in a bid to smooth the transition, as well as having access to BAME mentors already working in their chosen field.
“The one fundamental thing I’ve learned over the years is that our failure to enhance opportunities for the BAME stems from perpetually using the same model again and again,” said the mayor.
“These mentors understand the journey, the barriers, and the challenges they faced and navigated coming through the system.”
Professor Lavalette is confident that the scheme will make a positive change.
“We know this scheme is going to make a big difference,” he said. “And we’ll ensure there are support networks in place so that any students who take up these courses are given every chance of success.”
The Lord Mayor and Hope’s vice-chancellor explain the thinking behind the new project