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  • Writer's pictureSarah Solanke

How to improve the education experience for black female students

The overlooked educational needs of Black girls by educators, including teachers, administrators, and policymakers, must be addressed. Despite accounting for approximately 35% of the UK population, there has been a focus on black boys and white girls.

Black female students experience marginalisation due to being dismissed and left out of a national discourse on education which asks them to subsume themselves under other group identities relating to gender and race. Understanding black female students needs can help to improve educational experiences and the overall black female experience.

Why is marginalisation problematic?

Black female students dismissed needs are problematic because many black girls in predominantly white schools develop subconscious coping mechanisms. Altering themselves by learning to become seen but not heard is a prime example. Marginalisation is dangerous in an education system where students should learn to flourish and be confident in themselves. Still, unfortunately, black girls are being instilled with the widespread notion that there is something inherently wrong with them.

How to treat black girls needs in education:

The most effective methods to implement solutions:

1. Validation

Using validation to value every aspect of a black girl's identity, so they don't feel the need to assimilate white characteristics and alter parts of themselves. Shared histories and stories also create validation by allowing black females to view themselves through a non-deficit lens rather than instilling low self-esteem.

A great example has black women represented in positions to be role models who share their perspectives and experiences so that others can learn the sensitivity of these experiences. Moreover, having issues that cause rage, anger, distress in black females recognised rather than dismissed as being stereotyped as an illegitimate part of black females' nature.

2. Mentorship

Mentorship programs disrupt the narrative that many black females may be internalising and instead provide them access to their elders' wisdom, experiences, and survival skills. Mentorship programmes allow Black females to understand and validate their shared experiences and further understand their shared viewpoints.

In a model trialled in US schools, structured mentoring and encouragement are crucial components that could help them learn behaviours and techniques useful for navigating the education institution.

3. Empowerment strategies

Strategies, including mentorship, use structured models with clear objectives to enhance Black girls' experience in education.

The FAME and CARE models set up in 2013 and 2014, conceptualised by Ricks and Ford are structured models designed to target underachievement and enhance the educational experience of Black girls in United States schools.

The FAME model aims to work with black females to achieve goals related to awareness of black girls' emotional, academic needs, intrinsic motivation and work ethic, internal locus of control, altruism, and scholarly pride. The CARE model is another approach that emphasises the importance of an integrated, holistic approach to working with black girls in education. It comprises four areas: connection, awareness, preprogramming, and encouragement.


Education plays a critical and historical role for black females as a source of empowerment that has been a low priority educational agendas. Creating programs and initiatives that address gendered racism present in educational settings can support black females and ensure their academic success. These initiatives must look at both individual and systemic solutions. The most vital component is to ensure that there are resources to implement these strategies.

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