In 1980, awakened by the Black Parents Movement and surrounding discourse at the time, a group of local parents and teachers gathered at Kentish Town Library to discuss practical ways in which they could support each other and their children. At the time, academic and social research on educational attainment suggested large numbers of black and mixed heritage British young people were leaving school or being permanently excluded with little to no formal qualifications. Key issues were identified with the education system including:
An underrepresentation of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) teachers in mainstream schools.
A failure to include the historic and contemporary contributions of BME societies, communities or individuals.
A misunderstanding of the diverse needs of BME pupils.
A readiness to label BME pupils negatively from an early age.
The overriding concern was that if young people, were failing to complete school to age 16 or left without achieving a required standard of education, the result would often be a lifetime of continued social disadvantage, negatively impacting on their health, employment, housing, quality of life and self-esteem.
Immediate action was needed. Thus, the Camden Black Parents and Teachers Association (CBP&TA) was established. At that time, the emphasis was on development through self-help and working collectively. As the organisation grew, the members realised that much more could be done to help young people with funding and dedicated support roles. In 1989, the CBP&TA became a registered charity.
Over the years, the organisation has supported and touched the lives of thousands of parents and young people, not just in its "home town" of Camden, but London wide. In 1998, with the support of Camden Council, CBP&TA was granted a long-term lease for its current premises in the Queen's Crescent area of Kentish Town. The building was named the CARAF Centre - creating a hub for our services. While location, staff, and children have changed many times, the motivations remain the same - supporting parents to support their children.