Pupils and teachers receive The Saroj Lal Award

Saroj Lal

Celebrating diversity through creativity in our schools was the theme of the Saroj Lal Award for Edinburgh Schools event held at the City Chambers last night (Thursday 16 November).

Saroj Lal was one of the first Asian women to teach in a Scottish primary school when she began her role at South Morningside Primary School in 1970. Her many successes included being at the forefront of race relations during a period of immense political and social change, delivering anti-racism training and starting the first local authority interpreting and translating service in Edinburgh. Following her death in 2020, Saroj’s many achievements in equality, women’s rights, education, and community work are being formally recognised.

Every year our schools are invited to nominate pupil work relating to any aspect of equalities, in any artform. Headteachers were also invited to nominate staff, whose collaborative work around equalities has taken a creative approach and had an impact.

All nominated work will be used to start building a resource bank for schools. This year saw more schools and pupils enter with 11 schools nominated, 33 pupil/pupil group nominations and two teacher nominations submitted.

The entries were considered by a panel of judges, comprising Saroj Lal’s son and equalities campaigner Vineet Lal, Katie D’Souza (2022 Joint winner of the GTC Scotland Saroj Lal Award) and Nikhat Yusaf, Senior Development Officer Equalities for the City of Edinburgh Council.

The award categories for pupils were as follows:

  • Proud to be Me: Communicates the young person’s personal expression of pride in their heritage, in their own culture and/or identity.
  • How Prejudice Makes Me Feel: Expresses young people’s feelings about any form of prejudice inflicted on themselves or others.
  • Artivism: Art expresses their views on social justice and challenges others to change and/or act differently.

There were joint winners for the Proud to be Me category: Lily Schiller-Chatwood, Leith Academy and Natali Rawat, St Thomas of Aquin’s RC High School.

In the How Prejudice Makes Me Feel category the winner was Amna Parveen, Castlebrae Community Campus.          

For the Artivism category the winner were the Equalities Lead Pupils at St Augustine’s High School.

The staff winner was Elaine Oram, James Gillespie’s High School.

The Commendation winner, was a whole school effort, and went to Currie Primary School.

Councillor Joan Griffiths, Education, Children and Families Convener, hosted the event and said:

These awards build on the rich legacy that Saroj Lal left in her decades of pioneering work in Edinburgh and beyond. They recognise the work schools and pupils are doing to challenge the many forms of prejudice and discrimination.

I am so glad to see that in the Awards second year, many more schools have engaged with the award and submitted such a range of creative works, to include films, animation, poetry, and art works, demonstrating that diversity is thriving in our schools. The creativity, insights and depth of thinking on display have been hugely impressive, and everyone involved – pupils and staff – deserves to be congratulated.

Vineet Lal, son of Saroj Lal, and one of the Award judges, said:

It has been thrilling to see the passion and enthusiasm demonstrated by all those taking part in the Saroj Lal Award for Edinburgh Schools. The sheer scope and breadth of nominations, from almost a dozen participating schools this year, illustrates how engaged our local pupils are with issues linked to equality, diversity and inclusion, and it has been a pleasure and a privilege to be part of the judging panel. The creativity, insights and depth of thinking on display have been hugely impressive, and everyone involved – pupils and staff – deserves to be congratulated.

Last night’s event followed on from Portobello High School biology teacher Hardeep Kaur being awarded the he General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTC Scotland) Saroj Lal Award for a Pioneering Spirit in Equality and Diversity. 

Aims of The Saroj Lal Award for City of Edinburgh Schools: 

  • Mark the important legacy of Saroj Lal’s life and work.
  • Inspire action and promote equalities work in the widest sense.
  • Ensure pupils’ views, ideas and experiences are central and communicated widely through creative approaches.
  • Create a bank of resources for schools to use and share.
  • Challenge perceptions, remove stigma and celebrate diversity.


Published: November 17th 2023