Tony Sewell

Tony Sewell CBE (born 1959) is a British educational consultant and CEO of the educational charity Generating Genius.[1] In July 2020, Sewell was appointed chair of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities tasked with looking into race disparity in the UK.[2]

Tony Sewell

Dr Tony Sewell.jpg
Sewell in 2020
Chair of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities
Assumed office
July 2020 (2020-07)
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Personal details
Born1959 (age 61–62)
Brixton, London, England
Alma materUniversity of Essex
OccupationEducational consultant

Early lifeEdit

Tony Sewell was born in Brixton in 1959 and grew up in Penge, Bromley. Sewell's parents arrived in London in the 1950s from Jamaica. During his childhood, Sewell was a member of the Scouts and much of his adolescence was spent in Church youth-group activities in and around Sydenham.[3]

In 1981, Sewell graduated from the University of Essex where he studied English Literature.[4]

Professional lifeEdit

After graduating from university, Sewell was employed as a school teacher in Brent. Sewell left this role to teach in Jamaica for two years.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, he wrote a weekly social commentary column for The Voice. In 1995, he received a PhD from the University of Nottingham.[5] In 2012, Sewell was appointed by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to chair an inquiry into the challenges faced by primary and secondary schools in London.[6] The inquiry's findings resulted in the government agreeing to provide £26 million to improve teachers' subject knowledge as part of the London Schools Excellence Fund.[4][7]

In October 2015, Sewell was appointed as a member of the Youth Justice Board.[7]

In July 2020, Sewell was appointed chair of a Government commission tasked with looking into race disparity in the UK. His appointment was criticised by the Muslim Council of Britain, which argued that Sewell was "keen on downplaying race disparities".[2] On 31 March 2021, Sewell's commission, the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, published its 258-page report,[8] which concluded that the UK was not institutionally racist.[9]

The report's findings were criticised by some campaigners, such as Runnymede Trust chief executive Halima Begum, who said that denying the existence of institutional racism was "deeply, deeply worrying".[10] Begum, an open supporter of the Labour Party, was criticized in turn for being politically motivated in her criticisms of the report.[11][12] The report was praised by David Goodhart and by The Times, which described it as a "nuanced and practical document".[13][14]

Sewell received extensive online abuse after the report's publication, including from Labour MP Clive Lewis and Cambridge academic Priyamvada Gopal.[15] Gopal accused Sewell of not having a PhD; when she learned he did, Gopal tweeted: "Okay, established. It is, in fact, Dr Sewell. Fair enough. Even Dr Goebbels had a research PhD. (University of Heidelberg, 1921)". The comparison to Goebbels, a prominent Nazi, attracted criticism from numerous commentators.[16][17][18] Trevor Phillips, the former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, attacked the "white establishment" for not defending Sewell.[18]


Sewell has attracted criticism from some of his views.

In 2006, Sewell claimed that boys were being failed by schools because lessons had become too "feminised".[19] Sewell's comments were criticised by John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders. Dunford accused Sewell of making "sweeping generalisations" and argued that "schools have put an immense amount of effort into raising boys' achievement in recent years, just as they did for girls in the previous years".[20]

In 2010, Sewell wrote an article in Prospect magazine in which he argued that "much of the supposed evidence of institutional racism is flimsy".[21] Speaking in July 2020, Sewell explained that he did believe that "racism exists in structures", but added: "I do think some of the disparities there may not have origins in race. They could be rooted in class, different geographies, or different powers".[2]

In July 2020, The Guardian revealed that in 1990 Sewell published a column in the Voice newspaper in which he said:

We heteros are sick and tired of tortured queens playing hide and seek around their closets. Homosexuals are the greatest queer-bashers around. No other group of people are so preoccupied with making their own sexuality look dirty.

In response to The Guardian's story, Sewell apologised and said that his comments were "wrong and offensive".[22]


In 2016, Sewell was awarded a CBE for his work in education.

In 2017, Sewell was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in law from the University of Exeter.

In 2018, Sewell became an Honorary Fellow of University College London.

In 2018, Sewell was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of law from the University of Essex in 2019.[23]


  • Garvey's children: the legacy of Marcus Garvey. London: Voice Communications, 1987.
  • Jamaica Inc.. London: The X Press, 1993.
  • Keep on Moving: The Windrush Legacy - The Black Experience in Britain from 1948. London: Voice Enterprises, 1998.
  • Black Masculinities and Schooling: How Black Boys Survive Modern Schooling. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books Ltd, 1996.
  • Generating Genius: Black Boys in Love, Ritual and Schooling. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham, 2006.


  1. ^ "Dr Tony Sewell CBE | Honorary graduates | University of Exeter". Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Charity boss to head government race commission". BBC News. 16 July 2020. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  3. ^ Kinson, Sarah (12 November 2014). "London People: Dr Tony Sewell". Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Dr Tony Sewell CBE | 11th Festival of Education". Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  5. ^ Sewell, Cleveland A. (1995). "The relationship between African-Caribbean boys' sub-culture and schooling". University of Nottingham. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  6. ^ "The Mayor's Education Inquiry First Report". London City Hall. 3 February 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  7. ^ a b Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (29 October 2015). "Dr Tony Sewell appointed as new member of Youth Justice Board". Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  8. ^ "Race report: What are the key points?". BBC News. 31 March 2021. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  9. ^ Martin, George (31 March 2021). "Who is Tony Sewell, the controversial chair behind the Government's race report?". Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  10. ^ Forrest, Adam (31 March 2021). "Who are the authors behind government's race report?". The Independent. Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  11. ^ Reporter, Billy Kenber, Investigations. "Runnymede Trust boss Halima Begum accused of using it to play politics". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2021-04-09.
  12. ^ "The Times view on the Runnymede Trust: Race to the Bottom". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2021-04-09.
  13. ^ Goodhart, David (2021-04-01). "Any BLM activists reading this race report will find their beliefs shredded". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2021-04-09.
  14. ^ "The Times view on the Runnymede Trust: Race to the Bottom". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2021-04-09.
  15. ^ "Race review chief Tony Sewell compared to Joseph Goebbels in social media abuse". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2021-04-06.
  16. ^ "Race review chief Tony Sewell compared to Joseph Goebbels in social media abuse". The Times. 2 April 2021.
  17. ^ Syed, Matthew. "Pit my truth against your truth and it's a terrifying race to the bottom". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2021-04-05.
  18. ^ a b Phillips, Trevor. "Silence of white establishment betrays Sewell". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2021-04-05.
  19. ^ "Schools 'too feminine for boys'". BBC News. 13 June 2006. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  20. ^ Smith, Alexandra (13 June 2006). "Feminised curriculum 'has thrown boy out with bathwater'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  21. ^ Sewell, Tony (22 September 2010). "Master class in victimhood". Prospect. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  22. ^ Murphy, Simon; Stewart, Heather; Dodd, Vikram; Walker, Peter (16 July 2020). "Race commission head Tony Sewell apologises for anti-gay comments". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  23. ^ CBE, Dr Tony Sewell. "Dr Tony Sewell CBE". Policy Exchange. Retrieved 17 July 2020.