1st May 2023
GTC Scotland News

Entries open for Saroj Lal Award for a Pioneering Spirit in Equality and Diversity

Nominations for the 2023 Saroj Lal Award for a Pioneering Spirit in Equality and Diversity closed on 1 September 2023.

The Award was created to identify and celebrate the efforts of colleagues who demonstrate a pioneering spirit, determination and challenge adversity in a bid to promote and facilitate a culture and ethos of equality and diversity and actively challenge discrimination. We are seeking self-nominations from any GTC Scotland registrant based in Scotland who has gone above and beyond in their efforts to fight for the cause of equality and diversity.

The Life and Work of Saroj Lal

Saroj Lal was a trailblazing teacher and campaigner in Scottish race relations. Born and educated in India, she migrated to the UK in the late 1960s. Saroj taught at Edinburgh’s South Morningside Primary School for 3 years and was among the earliest Asian primary school teachers in Scotland. She was known for wearing her colourful saris, red lipstick, and being fundamentally proud of her heritage.

Her BME background and experience as a schoolteacher were central to her later work in multi-culturalism and anti-racist education. She would challenge perceptions throughout her career at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and Lothian Race Equality Council, fighting for equal representation of minority ethnic communities in the classroom, children’s literature and the media. She championed the BME cause, setting up Edinburgh’s first dedicated ethnic library, developing minority arts and expanding mother tongue teaching citywide.

Education and women’s rights remained a priority: she encouraged girls to pursue higher education by creating the Asian Cultural Girls’ Club at Drummond High School and the Continuation Course at Telford College. She also broke new ground with Lothian and Borders Police, defining the nature of racial attacks and encouraging the monitoring of racist bullying in schools. She became the first Asian woman in Scotland to be appointed as a Justice of the Peace.

Her pioneering achievements remain an inspiration to many and she leaves a lasting legacy in Edinburgh and Scotland.

Equality and Diversity – what is expected of teachers?

Teachers should strive to promote equality and diversity ensuring that everyone is treated with respect and that individual differences are valued. Inequality against those with protected characteristics – age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation – must be addressed and prevented.

The award is linked to the Standard for Career-Long Professional Learning (PDF 392 KB) and the Professional Values.

Applications are now closed for this award

Previous recipients in their own words

Previous recipients of the Saroj Lal Awards have shared their stories in Teaching Scotland magazine.

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