The Government has appointed an education charity boss to lead its new racial disparity commission and hold “a national conversation about race”.
Dr Tony Sewell CBE was confirmed by the Government as the chairman of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities on Thursday.
Dr Sewell, the current head of education charity Generating Genius, previously worked with Boris Johnson in 2013 when he led the then London Mayor’s education inquiry into the capital’s schools, resulting in the creation of the London Schools Excellence Fund.
Following the appointment, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “In terms of Dr Sewell CBE, he has supported many young people from diverse backgrounds into STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] careers.
“The PM knows his work and how it has improved access to education across London very well. The PM is confident that he shares his commitment to maximising opportunity for all.”
Mr Johnson announced the establishment of the commission after a series of anti-racism protests on British streets triggered by the death of George Floyd in the US.
The 10-person group, comprised of representatives from the fields of science, education, broadcasting, economics, medicine, policing and community organising, will look to deliver a report on race disparity within the health, education, criminal justice and employment sectors by the end of this year.
Mr Johnson said: “This cross-Government commission will examine inequality in the UK, across the whole population. The commission will be inclusive, undertaking research and inviting submissions where necessary. It will set a positive agenda for change.”
Following his appointment, Dr Sewell said: “I have spent my entire career in education striving to help all students achieve their full potential. I know, however that inequality exists, and I am committed to working with my fellow commissioners to understand why.
“Together, we will set out recommendations for action across Government, public bodies and the private sector, and will seek to inform a national conversation about race, led by the evidence.”
The other commissioners include the space scientist and broadcaster Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Keith Fraser, the chairman of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales and the ex-BBC journalist Dr Samir Shah.
Two representatives from the Windrush Working Group – the director of Voice4Change, Kunle Olulode, and Blondel Cluff, the chief executive of the West India committee – will attend meetings where relevant, No. 10 confirmed.