A unique cultural group for Black males is to be set up at South Nottingham College, supported by the School of Education at Nottingham Trent University.
The first Black on Track UK group will meet up to four times a term and will feature a social curriculum to provide Black males with structured support. Guest speakers will also be invited to act as role models and explore topics such as positive relationships with women, managing stereotypes of Black men, staying off the streets and getting into work, and planning for the future.
The launch of the group follows a 15 month research project by Nottingham Trent University’s Sheine Peart, course leader for the Masters in Education at the School of Education, which was carried out at South Nottingham College and the former Broxtowe College.
Sheine worked with young Black male students on their experiences of further education (FE). While the findings were mainly positive, they revealed that in the absence of formal cultural support in FE, students had formed their own peer support group to work with other Black students and found it a vital tool in maintaining cultural pride and strong friendships.
Sheine said: “On the whole, the students I questioned enjoyed FE and thought that it met their needs much better than school. However, there’s more to their experience than just the academic side and there is no formal cultural or emotional support for them, an issue which is replicated in FE across the country.
“South Nottingham College could see this was a real issue and were very keen to provide this support. We have put together a programme which will build an empathetic community among the members and give them a positive sense of self for the future.”
Along with Sheine, South Nottingham College learner achievement coach, Claudius Dyer, and lecturer, Norris Stewart, have also been instrumental in establishing the group, with support from its principal, Malcolm Cowgill. Funding for the group, which will start to meet in next academic year, is also being provided by South Nottingham College.
Malcolm Cowgill said: "I am extremely pleased to be supporting this innovative initiative. South Nottingham College has links abroad with South Africa, Gambia and Tanzania and we were keen to provide something UK based for young Black men".
Sheine added: “Although the group is initially an informal programme for Black male students at South Nottingham College, we have ambitions to move towards an accredited framework which will give all the participants a final award. We also have hopes to expand it through volunteering opportunities for young Black males to work in local schools on reading, achievement or mentoring projects, and eventually to link up with the police and duplicate the programme for other Black males who may be at risk, such as ex-offenders who are being integrated back into the community.”
Findings of the research carried out by Sheine Peart will be published by Trentham books in September this year in a book titled Making Education Work - How Black men and boys navigate the Further Education Sector