GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Comhairle Choitcheann Teagaisg na h-Alba

Saroj Lal Award for a Pioneering Spirit in Equality and Diversity

Nominations are now closed for the Saroj Lal Award for a Pioneering Spirit in Equality and Diversity.

GTC Scotland sought nominations on behalf of any Scottish teacher (nominee) 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 BAME 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 BAME 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.

The Award

Considering the lifetime achievements of Saroj, and her ongoing pioneering endeavours to fight for equality and diversity, it is with great pleasure that GTC Scotland introduces The Saroj Lal Award for a Pioneering Spirit in Equality and Diversity. This award will enhance the existing suite of GTC Scotland Awards. The Award has been created to identify and celebrate the efforts of those colleagues who exceed expectations, like Saroj, and who demonstrates a pioneering spirit, who show determination and challenge adversity in a bid to promote and facilitate a culture and ethos of equality and diversity and actively challenge discrimination.

Timeline for nomination process

Date Stage in process
20 April 2021 Nominations open
1 June 2021 Nominations deadline
Summer 2021 Panel to review the nominations
August 2021 Shortlist identified and nominees invited to a professional conversation with Professor Rowena Arshad, Vineet Lal and Dr Pauline Stephen.
September 2021 Shortlisted nominees invited to discuss their case studies for articles in Teaching Scotland magazine
September 2021 The winner will be awarded during the online GTC Scotland Professional Learning Award celebrations in September.

Award Panel

The Saroj Lal Award Panel will include the following representatives:

  • Vineet Lal (son of Saroj)
  • Professor Rowena Arshad CBE, FEIS, Chair in Multicultural and Anti-Racist Education, University of Edinburgh, Recipient of GTC Scotland Convener's Award 2017
  • A selection of Professional Learning Leads from Regional Collaboratives
  • Equality and Diversity Leads from Education Scotland
  • GTC for Scotland’s Chief Executive and Registrar, Dr Pauline Stephen