Student Commission on Racial Justice

Student Commission on Racial Justice

Established in 2020, the Student Commission on Racial Justice is a national, student-led project giving young people across the country a platform to speak out. Young people view Black Lives Matter as one of the most important issues of their generation. Exploring racial justice across four key areas of society – education, employment, health and policing and crime – the Student Commission is giving young people a voice and empowering them to take action.

Leaders Unlocked have built this project from the ground up, based on our extensive networks within the Further Education sector. We are currently partnered with ten colleges across England: Barnsley College, Birmingham Metropolitan College, Bridgwater & Taunton College, Hopwood Hall College, Kirklees College, Leicester College, Leyton Sixth Form College, MK College Group, and The Sheffield College.

Working with the participating colleges, we recruit over 40 passionate students to lead the Commission. Throughout the project, the Commissioners are supported by Leaders Unlocked to build skills in research, public speaking and engaging other young people. They also produce a short animation or film and workshop that reaches tens of thousands of students across England. The Commission work with their own colleges and national stakeholders to develop recommendations for action to tackle racial injustice.

58% of negative experiences in education, caused by race or ethnicity took place in secondary school followed by 23% in college and 17% in primary school.

How it works

Recruitment: We support the colleges with a 2-stage recruitment process to find over 40 Student Commissioners aged 16-24. The Commissioners are guided by Leaders Unlocked and a group of peer facilitators recruited through our existing networks.

Student Commission meetings: Over the course of the project the Student Commission meet as a whole group and in smaller sub-group meetings. These events bring Commissioners together to share their views and experiences, work with experts and develop national recommendations for change.

Peer research: Supported by Leaders Unlocked the Commissioners undertake peer research with other young people using online and face to face methods. Since 2020, Commissioners have gathered the views and experiences of over 9,000 young people. Commissioners have analysed and interpreted these findings and then developed national recommendations for change.

Short animations and film: Working with industry experts, Commissioners have developed the concept for 2 short animations and 1 short film which aim to generate conversations about racial equality.

Staff training and student workshop: Commissioners have developed 2 workshops which have been delivered to students in the partnering colleges. We have taken a ‘train the trainer’ approach, working with Student Commissioners to lead staff training on how to deliver the student workshop.

National recommendations: Leaders Unlocked works with Student Commissioners to produce national recommendations for addressing racial injustice. Building on the insights that Commissioners have gathered throughout the project, these viable recommendations are shared with decision makers who can implement them.

Showcase event: The project concludes with a summer showcase event where Commissioners present their findings and recommendations to key stakeholders from education, public health, policy bodies, parliament, the press, and other key organisations.


On 25th May 2020, George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis. This tragic event highlighted the ongoing prevalence of systemic racism in society and sparked Black Lives Matter protests around the world, including in the UK. Young people have told Leaders Unlocked that Black Lives Matter is one of the most important issues for their generation. Our Student Commission on Racial Justice provides a platform for students across the country to work collectively to tackle racial injustice.

Get involved

If you’re interested in getting involved with the work we do at Leaders Unlocked, please do send us a message via our contact us page. We are always keen to hear from young people who may want to take part in our projects, as well as professionals who may want to collaborate.

More than 65% of our
staff came from Leaders Unlocked projects

"There’s been a fundamental change in the way that we approach youth consultation. Before it was a staff-led approach. Now there’s a genuine youth-led approach; there are up to 35 young people, talking to other young people about their experience of crime and policing. It has been such a significant impact."