11 June 2020

The University of East London's School of Education was renamed the Cass School of Education and Communities in 2008 following a donation from the Sir John Cass's Foundation. 

The Sir John Cass's Foundation, established in 1748, arose from the endowment of Sir John Cass whose wealth benefited from his engagement with the slave trade. Slavery is monstrous to us all and we cannot comprehend how cultures around the world have, during some point in history, considered this not to be morally bankrupt. 

The mission of the Foundation is to promote the education of young people in London, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, through its grant programmes for individuals, educational institutions and organisations. 

The University's relationship with the Sir John Cass's Foundation has brought many benefits to our students over the years including a range of scholarships for those in hardship and contributes to the wider community with support to a variety of schools and universities. 

Whilst attempting to make sense of modern philanthropic endeavours that have their historic origins in racist (or other hateful and corrupt) activity, we must ensure that any past institutional decisions are reflected upon and reviewed to enable us to fulfil our commitment to become an anti-racist institution. 

Following consultation with our Black Academy and wider students and staff, we have removed the statue of Sir John Cass which was standing within the Education & Communities School Building. We will be instigating a University-wide review of all sources of historic funding together with the development of a new institutional naming policy reflecting our University values that puts equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of our transformation strategy, Vision 2028.

The review will be chaired by an independent member of the University's Board of Governors. The composition of this review will ensure it is representative of our whole community.

The University of East London celebrates diversity, fosters inclusivity and is committed to an environment of mutual respect and equity for every member of our learning community. "

We still have much to do to become a genuinely anti-racist institution, but here is some of the progress we have made so far:

  • Racially diverse representation on both our University Executive Board (the most senior leaders of the University) and on our Board of Governors (the trustees of our charity)
  • Achieved the Race Equality Charter Mark in May 2019 (one of only 14 universities to be awarded)
  • Established the first Office for Institutional Equity that sits within the Vice Chancellor & President’s Office in the UK with a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion at the centre of the University’s Vision 2028 strategy.
  • Ranked number 1 in the UK for addressing inequalities (second in the world) by the Times Higher Education Global Impact Ranking, 2020
  • Inclusive recruitment training for all members of staff involved in recruitment and selection including anonymous shortlisting, racially diverse panels, and compulsory equality, diversity and inclusion training as part of staff induction
  • We have established a white anti-racist ally group within the University and are working towards developing such a group in each school
  • We are rolling out mandatory anti-racist training for all staff including the University Executive Board and the Board of Governors
  • We are one of the few universities in the UK that has a thriving Black Academy
  • We have a BAME staff network 
  • We are continually advancing the inclusivity of our curriculum 
  • Our award-winning library is working towards decolonising the resources available to students and staff
  • We are committed to closing the degree-awarding gap for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students, as well as the gap relating to progression to graduate employment with all senior leaders held accountable for EDI plans

Sir John Cass's Foundation has issued a statement about its history and the Black Lives Matter movement. Read it here.

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