February is UK LGBT+ History Month and the theme this year is ‘Body, Mind, Spirit’

Hannah Wilson portrait

Written by Hannah Wilson

Founder of Diverse Educators

Different groups of people have been impacted in different ways through Covid-19 and lockdown. There are growing concerns about the mental health wellbeing of our LGBTQI+ young people who may not be a safe space to show up as their authentic selves.

Here are 10 things you can do as a teacher, a school leader or as a school to get involved, from resources to events, from training to awards to help to raise awareness and increase understanding:

1. Schools’ Out have a directory of fantastic free resources for schools here:

https://lgbtplushistorymonth.co.uk/resources/  and you can download the free posters here: https://lgbtplushistorymonth.co.uk/resources/lgbt-history-month/  

2. The Proud Trust have a free downloadable resource pack for schools:

https://lgbtplushistorymonth.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/LGBT-History-Month-Pack-2021.pdf

3. Check out all of the organisations listed on the Diverse Educators’ website under the Protected Characteristic of Sexual Orientation:

https://www.diverseeducators.co.uk/sexual-orientation/   

4. Diverse Educators partner with the Carnegie School of Education, Leeds Beckett, home to the LGBTQ+ Centre for Inclusion in Education, find out more about their research and their Schools’ Award:

https://www.diverseeducators.co.uk/centre-for-lgbtq-inclusion/  

5. Read and share a #DiverseEd blog about the lived experience of a LGBT teacher, Jared Cawley, and understand how to support the wellbeing of our colleagues:

https://www.diverseeducators.co.uk/my-wellbeing-as-a-lgbt-teacher/

6. Dual Frequency have created an interactive digital calendar for all things Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Download and start using your copy here:

https://www.diverseeducators.co.uk/dual-frequency/

7. Diversity Role Models have released season one of Role Model Stories that includes six episodes, with stories from Vicky Jane, Simeon, Mon, Barry, Richy and Simon, packed with inspiring personal stories covering a range of topics from history, intersectionality, faith and LGBT+ inclusion, gender identity, different families and more. Each video comes with a downloadable teacher resource.

https://www.diverseeducators.co.uk/diversity-role-models/

8. Diversity Role Models have also recently published a report: ‘Pathways to LGBT+ Inclusion: Report’ revealed only 20% of secondary students learnt about LGBT+ identities and HBT bullying at school, while only 27% of secondary students said their school would be safe for a fellow student to come out as LGBT+.

9. #LGBTed have recently published a book: Big Gay Adventures in Education and they host a weekly twitter chat:

https://www.diverseeducators.co.uk/lgbted/

10. Find out how your LGBTQI+ staff feel about your workplace culture with Edurio’s free EDI survey:

https://home.edurio.com/edi-review

Reflections:

  • If we believe in a whole education to develop the whole child, how are we enabling our staff to bring their whole self to school too?
  • How can we be inclusive allies to support our pupils and students, staff and governors, parents and carers, in feeling physically and psychologically safe in our schools? 

As a tangible action for change we recommend that you check out the Queer Knowledge Organiser created by David Lowbridge-Ellis in our Cross-Curricular resources drive and review your provision.

 

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Why Being a Sikh Woman is My Superpower

Gurjeevan Malhi portrait

Written by Gurjeevan Malhi

A Sikh female Head of Year who works at the forward thinking @OfficialNUSA

My Sikh heritage is my inner superpower, it makes me stand out from the crowd and educate those around me. I believe in ‘Seva’, the Sikh concept of selfless service. Sikhism is led by the teaching of Guru’s and the word ‘Guru’ translates into ‘teacher’. So it seems perfect that I work within education; my values align perfectly. 

I applied for a school in Nottingham completely by accident in my training year. I had no desire to leave Birmingham but I went to the interview for experience. I grew up in Smethwick, a very multi-ethnically diverse area; a place far from perfect but one of cultural comfort. When I got to my interview, I noticed that the pupil demographic was predominantly white working class; a world away from what I was used to, but I was intrigued. According to The Guardian, almost half of English schools have no BAME teachers and it’s easy to understand why. During the interview, I was the only person of colour. That can feel very isolating! However, I was privileged enough to get the job and I had a decision to make. I was away from home, didn’t know a soul but I wanted to risk it and accept the role. 

The first few months were difficult. Some parents were not as kind and pupils had limited understanding of culture. However, it wasn’t all uncomfortable; a favourite memory of my NQT year was a pupil tentatively asking me ’Miss, I don’t mean to be offensive, but do you like curry?’ The answer was and still is a resounding ‘YES!’ It made me think. 

Our sector’s very core aim is to educate and these pupils were curious about the world around them, albeit maybe fearful of offending. Fate transpired that by the end of my first year, an internal role came up for the Coordinator of PSHE. I didn’t have the experience, but I went for it. I used my life experience in the interview, took the risk and it paid off! 

I ended up sharing the role but it meant that I could evoke change. We did. We do every day and it’s made an impact to the community we serve. The pupils are more comfortable to ask questions and more importantly, are more prepared for life in Modern Britain. We cannot allow our young people around us to be unaware of multi-cultural Britain. 

We are overlooked yes, we have experienced dark days, yes but we are no victims. The reality is that we carry our culture on our backs, are expected to and whilst it’s tiring, we have to ensure we do. The work we put in now ensures the next generation have it a little easier. Whilst some of us may not feel comfortable with standing out, we’ve got to own that we do. 

As a woman, more specifically a Sikh one, it’s difficult to explain just how much we’re overlooked within the wonderful world of education but if you’ve experienced the same, my message is clear. You have value, you have life experiences that we educators can enrich our pupils with. 

I’m grateful that I have wonderful female role models to look up to and learn from. Find your advocates and don’t be afraid to stand out and accept that you’re a role model for your community. Stick to your vision and remember, lift those around you; empower them. You have power within you, use it. We rise by lifting others! 

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Anti-racism in Social Work: No More Questions – Just Actions Please

Wayne Reid portrait

Written by Wayne Reid

Professional Officer & Social Worker

A senior social work manager joked to me recently that I “was the only authority on anti-racism in social work”.  Although she was jesting, it did make me wonder what accountability and protections actually exist to support social workers of colour within the profession, given what we know about the omnipresence of racism. It didn’t take me very long to conclude – very little.

 

I write this article from my perspective, not on behalf of all Black and ethnic minority people or social workers – as we are not a homogenous group. I refuse to be the tokenistic ‘Black voice’ of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW). I’ve had a diverse social work career and anti-racism is in all our interests. I’m one of many Black voices in the profession. It’s just my reality that my role at BASW enables me to be heard more broadly than others. Also, I realise that I’ve been ‘let in’ (to some extent) and ‘won’t scare the horses’, to quote the playwright and critic Bonnie Greer, in relation to the historian David Olusoga. I use Black and ethnic minority people here for ease.

 

Yes, social work is institutionally racist

 

Sensible people know racism is not just an isolated event or incident. It’s also a reflection of institutions, structures (including micro and macro socio-economic and socio-political factors) – which all interact with each other and shape the lived experiences of Black people. When will we accept that the philosophy of white supremacy runs deep in most organisational cultures? It really is not that hard to see.

 

Since my previous article on promoting anti-racism in social work, there has been some decent position statements from some organisations and prominent social workers. However, there have also been some cringe statements, some nauseatingly feeble blogs and some noteworthy silences. Unfortunately, there remains a scarcity of cast-iron and explicit actions and/or commitments to anti-racism.

 

Clearly, anti-racism in social work is not universally accepted as high importance or as urgently needed.

 

The response from the social work elite has been about as coherent, convincing and speedy as the government’s response to Covid-19, the A-Level fiasco and the Windrush scandal combined.”

However, the social work profession (like many others) is not broken. What we are experiencing and witnessing has been designed. If we truly want an equitable and inclusive profession that really encourages critical thinking, prioritises social justice and truly values diversity of service users and staff, then we need to reimagine new structures, new systems and new discourses. A paradigm shift! Anything else is just papering over gaping tectonic plates.

 

Yes, social work is institutionally racist – but so are many institutions, organisations and professions (not just the Police) when you consider Sir William MacPherson’s definition from the 1999 report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. There is evidently a “collective failure to provide an appropriate and professional service to social workers of colour based on their colour, culture or ethnic origin”. This is visible in “processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping” which disadvantage ethnic minority people.

This correlates with the over-representation of Black and ethnic minority social workers in fitness to practise cases; reports from the Social Workers Union of Black social workers being failed on their assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE) and various other detrimental career outcomes. Basically, the modern-day social work equivalent of lynching.

 

I observe many key social work leaders asking the same old tired questions, then promising another exploration of the long and gruelling wilderness we meandered through in previous decades. Just like another government enquiry into, well… take your pick! The ongoing Windrush scandal? Stephen Lawrence? Stop and search?! The tactics deployed by our oppressors generally involve seek and destroy; smokescreens and mirrors or deafening silence.

 

Is there an appetite for real change? 

 

The question is not: ‘Is social work racist?’ More incisive questions are: ‘As racism in society becomes more overt, what is social work actively doing to promote anti-racism?’ Or, ‘When will social work commit to (something like) a mandatory anti-racism commitment framework?’ With respect, in my previous article, I literally outlined a blueprint for large-scale anti-racist organisational change. I feel like I’ve done the class bully’s homework and then still taken a bashing on my way home. My ideas are not perfect (by any stretch of the imagination), but your homework is done for you, nonetheless.

 

We must now ask, whether there is really the appetite for real change? Is there the actual commitment, intention and motivation? Because if not, why not? Financial investment is not necessarily a major hurdle here – it comes down to the priorities and values of the existing leadership. I’d rather have some meaningful action, even if it is not perfect, as long as it is genuine – rather than this neverending paralysis of fear and/or indifference. Let’s have more clarity about what your change looks like and the timescales for implementation.  If not, it’s all just performative window-dressing and pitiful. No more questions – just meaningful actions please.

 

Disappointingly, neither Social Work England’s education and training standards for 2019 or 2021 nor the professional standards for social workers explicitly refer to anti-discriminatory (ADP)anti-oppressive (AOP) or anti-racist practice. The professional standards refer to “challenging the impact of disadvantage and discrimination, promoting social justice and helping to confront and resolve issues of inequality and inclusion”.

 

But is that really explicit enough? How can social workers be properly educated and held to account on promoting basic human rights for marginalised groups with the bar so low? Or is this just not a priority for us anymore? Social justice in this context feels like another catch-all to me – like BAME or EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion). Without explicit inclusion of these principles how can we ensure they are applied in policy, practice and education?  Simple answer?  We cannot.  Why is this no longer important?

 

There is a long history of ADP, AOP and anti-racist principles being intrinsic to social work values and ethics. The legal backdrop and framework is built on the Human Rights Act 1998, Race Relations Act 1976, Disability Discrimination Act 1995, Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and Equality Act 2010. Therefore, it’s almost incomprehensible in my mind that these hard-fought principles are omitted from today’s regulatory standards and supplementary guidance.

 

Regressive social work standards

 

The previous social work standards, regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), were stronger, expecting practitioners to “be able to practice in a non-discriminatory manner” and “use practice to challenge and address the impact of discrimination, disadvantage and oppression”. Prior to that, the General Social Care Council’s (GSCC) codes of practice required employers to “put into place and implement policies and procedures to deal with dangerous, discriminatory or exploitative behaviour and practice” and social workers to use “established processes and procedures to challenge and report dangerous, abusive, discriminatory or exploitative behaviour and practice”.

 

Therefore, the current social work standards are regressive and do nothing to advance the principles set out by their predecessors – despite the desperate and obvious necessity. Many believe these principles are now diluted and de-prioritised beyond the point of complacency.  Similar concerns have been raised by the chief social worker for children and families, with regards to the teaching of anti-oppressive practice in social work education.

 

Social Work England’s professional standards do acknowledge the impact of “difference and discrimination” on service users, but what about how these factors impact on minority groups of social workers?  There has been a silent shift to sweep the protected characteristics under the carpet of ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ (EDI); which we know masks individuality – much in the same way as ‘BAME’ does to Black and ethnic minority groups. It conveniently rolls off the tongue – but subtly dehumanises and ‘others’ us.

 

The importance of incorporating these values and ethics was highlighted by BASW England in our response to Social Work England’s (SWE) consultations on rules and standards in April and June 2019 (prior to Social Work England’s inception). Unfortunately, our recommendations were not included. Reminders were issued to Social Work England (via Twitter) on 17/06/20 and 23/06/20. As of yet, there has been no response. I refer to these facts to underline the importance of these fundamental principles and how their omission in social work regulation is a travesty of social justice in itself. Without explicit inclusion, how else can social work educators and workers be properly educated and held accountable on ADP, AOP and anti-racism?  There are real concerns about the standards being superficial, cold-hearted, corporate benchmarks, as opposed to empirical and evolutionary cornerstones of social work that advance human rights and social justice.

 

“I still find it astounding that social workers are so heavily regulated and that their employers are not.”

The Local Government Association’s (LGA) employer standards, are not mandatory and insufficient accountability exists  A few other equality frameworks and ‘innovations’ exist or are in the pipeline, but again the big questions are: Are they mandatory and enforceable? Do they apply to all social work employers? Do they explicitly embed ADP, AOP and anti-racism in social work policy, practice and education? Not as far as I can see. So, the provisions all seem very piecemeal and one-sided to me and rather oppressive for all – especially Black and ethnic minority social workers.

 

Do Social Work England and the chief social workers support the idea of the LGA’s employment standards becoming mandatory and universal? We know from BASW campaignsresearch and our ongoing discussions with members that the working conditions for social workers remain diabolical in many organisations. However, there is little evidence of this being taken into account and appropriate action taken against employers (when necessary) as part of fitness to practise cases.

 

No more questions – just actions 

 

Community Care has reported that Black and ethnic minority social workers are “over-represented in fitness to practise cases [and] adjudication hearings are disproportionately white compared to the profession”. This evidence needs to be categorised and scrutinised in the context of social work employers (public, private and third sectors).  Also, these conclusions are not new. The GSCC and HCPC have historically reported on this too. So, what efforts have been made to address these longstanding issues of poor working conditions and inequality? Again, how much of a priority is it? Why are we continuously asking the same old questions?  No more questions – just actions please.

 

As reported in another Community Care article, how much of a priority is given to employing ethnically diverse workforces and senior leaders? I think most Black and ethnic minority professionals (and their allies) would be keen to know what is actually being done to reverse these trends.

 

Since George’s Floyd’s killing and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, BASW has been at the forefront of anti-racist social work activism. BASW England has championed anti-racism in social work on a scale unrivalled by any other organisation within the profession. Our activities have involved: the publication of numerous articles (1234 & 5); incisive and timely position statements (1 & 2); a campaign to change the racist imagery on the KCMG medal; establishing the Black & Ethnic Minority Professionals Symposium; developing the Black & Ethnic Minority Social Workers Anthology (working title); several podcasts (1 & 2) and webinars (1 & 2); a response to the minister for equalities’ report on the disparate impact of Covid-19 on Black and ethnic minority communities and presentations on anti-racism in social work (specifically designed for social work organisations) across England (and internationally).

 

The KCMG campaign is ongoing. We have received an acknowledgement from Buckingham Palace and our letter has been redirected to the Cabinet office. However, in a bizarre twist, the original tweet (which went viral) has now been deleted from Twitter. We have asked Twitter to explain this, but no response has been forthcoming. We know silence on racism is complicity with the oppressors. I think silence can also be construed as blatant racism in some scenarios. It seems when our oppressors choose not to attack us, the wall of silence is their other favoured tactic. Open dialogue has remained a prominent source of conflict resolution for good reason – it works! It helps to positively undermine any covert or overt power imbalance.

 

BASW England will continue to educate, equip and empower social workers of colour and allies. As an organisation, we realise that we are not immune to the perils of white supremacy and ‘whiteness’. However, BASW has shown a willingness to address and tackle these issues internally and within the profession more broadly. We will consider all anti-racist proposals from partnership organisations and specialist collaborators that will potentially benefit social work.  I like the idea of an Office for Minority Heath, as proposed by Professor Dinesh Bhugra, to promote proper accountability and ensure people from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds have their holistic health (and social care) needs considered.

 

You can’t read yourself into activism

 

Anti-racism in social work risks being perceived as radical activism or anarchic ideology. Our social leaders must reverse this flawed belief system. I live in hope that social work policy, practice and education will now begin to properly recognise and reflect that ‘race’ is a socially constructed idea with no scientific validity – invented and refined principally to oppress Black people.

 

Race remains an unstable concept because it is superficially based on physical appearance. When race was constructed people knew very little about DNA, genetics and human origins. It is an outdated colonial invention that still permeates modern society. Intellectually and morally, as a profession and as a society, we must see beyond what was pre-determined for us centuries ago.

 

So, if society is built on plantations of racism, still celebrates racist history and traditions and reminds us daily of the inescapability of white supremacy, it’s not enough for social workers (and social work organisations) to be ‘colour-blind’ or ‘non-racist’.”

We must be PROACTIVELY anti-racist – otherwise anything else is just tiresome lip-service. If anti-racism in social work does not exist for social workers, can it ever truly exist for service users? Anti-racism is absolutely integral to social work, so when will it be given the credence it deserves? Without standing up for our defining values and ethics, what is to stop us succumbing to the pervasive and pernicious post-modern sleaze?

 

“The work of anti-racism is to fight racism wherever you see it… even in yourself.  The struggle cannot be found in the pages of a book. You can’t read yourself into activism. Sooner or later, you’ll have to make a choice…  Do what is safe or do what is right.” (Dr Muna Abdi).

 

Ultimately, if my destiny is to try and fail, then I can live with that. I’d rather die trying, thanks. Otherwise, how can I look my kids in the face or even look myself in the mirror? My scruples dictate that I must do what I know to be right (personally and professionally). My only wish is that more people did the same. I do not want to appear ungrateful, but I can live without the acclaim, the ‘likes’, ‘retweets’, plaudits etc. I want revolution!  So, brothers, sisters and allies – if you know your herstory, if the ancestral spirits live within you, if you know right from wrong – then now is the time to show and prove yourself – RISE UP!  What have you done to enforce anti-racism and promote black liberation lately?

 

Let’s not forget, “when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression”.  The only real enemy of progress is ignorance and ‘wilful blindness’.  Social justice must prevail.

 

‘One world, one race… the human race!’

 

[This article was originally published by Community Care on 16/12/2020: https://www.communitycare.co.uk/2020/12/16/anti-racism-social-work-questions-just-actions-please/

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Bringing a Diverse Curriculum to Life Through Human Stories

Rahul Karavadra portrait

Written by Rahul Karavadra

Engagement manager at Lyfta, and has been working in the education sector for a number of years. His background is in Philosophy with a Masters degree in Global Citizenship, Identities and Human Rights.

We recently had the pleasure of taking part in the Big Virtual Conversation III as part of the series of #DiverseEd events organised by Diverse Educators, organised by the brilliant duo, Hannah Wilson and Bennie Kara. The session was a chance for us to hear from a range of amazing speakers in the diverse education sphere, including from our own Rahul Karavadra, Engagement Manager at Lyfta.  The key themes of Rahul’s session, about bringing a diverse curriculum to life through human stories, are outlined in this blog.

Growing up, I was always on the edge of my seat when family members told stories of their lives in Uganda and Kenya, and what it was like living in the 70s and 80s as first generation migrants. Hearing their stories allowed me to see them as multifaceted individuals, with passions and interests of which I was previously unaware. 

As I grew up, this inquisitiveness developed into an urge to find out more about people from other communities and cultures. This eventually led me to do a masters degree in Global Citizenship, Identities and Human Rights, specialising in diaspora identity construction in relation to host nation experiences and long-distance nationalism. In essence, I was, and still am, trying to understand how my human story is shaped, influenced and connected to the stories of others.

And as a species, we have always been drawn to stories – from paintings on cave walls to the blockbusters we see on our screens.

If we look at western Africa, we can see how important human stories were to society through the ‘griot’; the repositories of oral traditions and history. People would tell their stories to the griot and it was their responsibility to remember them, and recount them to others, passing down lessons that could be retold and learnt from. It was said that when a griot passed away, it was like a library had been burnt down – that’s how important they were.

In this age of postmodern globalism, where identities are negotiated and stretched across permeable borders and interconnected histories, it’s important that a diverse range of stories are told. 

It is through the acquiring and exchange of cultural capital that the division between self and the ‘other’ can be dissolved. We are then able to build bridges and lay the foundations of understanding and empathy, as well as an awareness of connectivity, both on a micro and a macro level  – ‘we are each others environment’.

As educators, we find ourselves in a similar role to that of the griot – but with ever more relevance.  We are responsible for sharing human stories and perspectives from all across the world, and these stories have become more urgent for us to tell. In the past few years alone, we have seen a rise in neo-nationalism, xenophobia and global temperatures, not to mention the physical and mental scarring of Brexit, the death of George Floyd and more recently the storming of the Capitol in the USA.

We must remember to harness the power of humanity for the common good, and human stories allow us to do just this.

At Lyfta, we capture human stories in the form of short documentaries. These are presented through immersive and interactive 360° spaces where teachers and students can experience new perspectives and build vital skills and values. At a time when school trips are on pause, and the ability to travel and have close human interactions are severely restricted, Lyfta invites students to explore the world from the comfort of school or home, and meet the likes of Qwensley in the Caribbean, Kootyin in Hong Kong or Enaney in Ethiopia.

Teaching and learning through human stories can be a useful and powerful way to ensure that students have experiences of the world as part of their entitlement to cultural capital. Lyfta can be used as a tool to develop an understanding of the protected characteristics, and show how equality and diversity can be promoted and reflected within our schools. 

We have seen that teaching through immersive human stories can bring a depth, breadth and meaning to complex concepts for children, moving learning from information to knowledge. 

Our vision at Lyfta is that by the time a child completes their education, they will have visited every country in the world and will have met at least one person from each of these countries; experienced different cultures, different languages, different jobs, roles and perspectives. They will have seen, and formed a connection with hundreds of positive human stories that model resilience, problem-solving, teamwork, and many other critical skills, values and competencies. They will be able to understand for themselves how interconnected and interdependent we are, and will have gained a deep awareness of their power and role in the world.

You can watch the Diverse Curriculum panel session in full here.

If you would like to explore using the human stories on the Lyfta platform as part of your diverse curriculum, please sign up to our training here. State schools in the UK can enjoy free training and access to the full platform and resources for 12 weeks of term time.

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Ethnography and its relevance within the school environment

Cas Germain portrait

Written by Cas Germain

Primary School Teacher living and teaching in the UAE. She has a Masters in Gender Studies in the Middle East, is a qualified SENCo and a certified Life Coach.

Before we begin I wish to break down the terminologies I’ll be using within this article to ensure we are all speaking and understanding the same language.

Ethnography:

“The scientific description of peoples and cultures with their customs, habits, and mutual differences.” * 

Bias:

“Biases may be held by an individual, group, or institution and can have negative or positive consequences.” ** 

Inclusive practice:

Inclusive practice is a teaching approach that recognises the differences between students and uses this to ensure that all students can access educational content and participate fully in their learning.” *** 

As educators we all strive to ensure all of our children are getting the best out of the curriculum, however, more often than not there are some crucial indicators and factors which are overlooked.

We humans tend to gravitate towards what’s familiar to us. For some people it can be having a cup of tea when travelling abroad, or gravitating towards people who like the same hobbies as you. It’s part of our human DNA, which is to create meaningful connections, we’re hardwired for it. 

When in the classroom and creating a fully inclusive environment for learning, I wish to provide some useful strategies on the importance of checking our bias to ensure all children are represented.

Why is this important? 

If you’re teacher training took place in the British curriculum, it’s part of our Teaching Standards: Personal and Professional Conduct. “Showing tolerance of and respect for the rights of others.” **** 

When students are taught about one another’s cultures and experiences, it creates a world of understanding and positive relationships.

Students become more open minded and respectful of their peers’ values and identities, creating the ability to connect and build rapport later on, not only in the academic careers but within their chosen professions.

Confidence is created within the school environment and therefore enhancing the learning experience for all, allowing for less likeliness of prejudice to occur later on in life, as teaching with ethnography in mind, provides a safe space to express oneself and celebrates one’s identity.

Children of all nationalities, backgrounds feel a sense of belonging, and are less likely to be influenced by organisations that entice vulnerable ethnic groups. 

What does Ethnography look like within the school environment?

As educators we can use simple approaches to ensure pupils feel included, supported and valued. 

The basis of all human connection is where we feel, seen, heard, valued and respected. This can be done across the board regardless of race, ethnicity or gender.

Examples can be:

  • Creating rapport: Greeting and addressing pupils and colleagues by their names. “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” (D. Carnegie) Asking them how their weekend was, or what they enjoy? By speaking about non-school related topics and leaning into the student’s world, creates a sense of trust and positive relationships.
  • Representing races and genders on lesson plans: Look at the demographic and ethnography of children in your classroom. For example, if you have a large Caribbean demographic, include pictures and examples of successful people from that area of the world within lesson plans, during your weekly planning.
  • Leadership and hiring: When hiring candidates, do you tend to hire male leaders and female teachers? Think about how this reflects and seems from a child’s perspective. If young girls only see men as leading and women as teaching, does this represent their opportunities of growth and career progression later on? Do you have a variety of genders and nationalities within your workforce, that reflect the children in your school?
  • Share local and global leaders from all areas of their world and their stories. Using the demographics of students in your class or school, use these example as assembly topics or include them within your slides. 
  • Celebrate cultural days: E.g Diwali, Eid, Christmas. Choose children to talk about their culture. For KS2 and secondary students, can they create an assembly for the year group/school? For primary children, allow them to tell their class about their culture and how they celebrate their festivals. Allow children to ask questions, and invite parents in (via Zoom) for a Q & A with the children. 

The best thing we can do as educators, is make our students feel welcome, seen, heard and valued. This is the basis of all human relationships. 

References:

  1. (Oxford Languages,2021)
  2. (https://diversity.ucsf.edu/resources/unconscious-bias,2021)
  3. https://www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/
  4. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/665522/Teachers_standard_information.pdf

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Being an Inclusive Ally; a Way of Being

Rachel Lofthouse portrait

Written by Professor Rachel Lofthouse

Professor of Teacher Education and Director of CollectivED in the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett University.

An ally is someone who supports under-represented groups and takes action to bring about change. Adrian McLean suggests that inclusive allyship is a ‘way of being’. This strikes a chord with me because at times we use the same phrase about coaching. 

A ‘way of being’ means taking an active stance in the world and making conscious decisions about our relationships with others. A ‘way of being’ allows us to transform ourselves, positively influence the lives of others and create fairer, more just and more successful institutions and society. As a ‘way of being’ inclusive allyship alters our thinking and our actions, making what at first is likely to need deliberate work and to sometimes feel uncomfortable, become a non-negotiable part of our identity and positionality.

But what does it mean to be an inclusive ally, what does it require of us and why is it necessary?

These were the underpinning themes of a recent webinar which I was proud to chair. The event was co-hosted by CollectivEd, the Carnegie School of Education and DiverseEd, with panellists Adrian McLean, Bennie Kara, Hannah Wilson and Damien Page. Through their provocations and responses to questions we gained opportunities to explore the theme. The panellists’ contributions blended personal narratives with challenges to participants to reflect on their own roles and actions as allies. Childhoods, school and family experiences, spheres of influence, the need for personal advocacy and opportunities to disrupt and challenge the status quo were discussed.  I have taken their words and propositions and threaded them together as my personal way of making meaning of my learning.  

Though we have privilege not everyone shares it.
Have intention and be bold. 
We can challenge what happens in front of our eyes,
Call out inequality and hand-over the mic.

With commitment we learn. 
With energy we act. 
With empathy we change. 
With power we lever. 

Show solidarity and live with discomfort.
If we share the work, it will be done sooner.
Lives will be richer and our society fairer. 
Expect equity for all. 

Webinar Panellists

Bennie Kara:

Bennie is a deputy head teacher. She is also a professional associate of the Centre for Race, Education and Decoloniality at Carnegie school of Education, Leeds Beckett University. She is the author of ‘Diversity in Schools and a co-founder of #DiverseEd. 

Adrian McLean:

Adrian is a MAT leader, and a trustee of Governors for Schools. He is also a speaker, trainer and mentor.  

Damien Page:

Damien is Professor of Education and Dean of the Carnegie school of Education, Leeds Beckett University. His research interests include alternative provision and surveillance in education. 

Hannah Wilson:

Hannah is a leadership development consultant, and former principal.  She is co-founder of #DiverseEd and #WomenEd. Hannah is a CollectivEd Fellow and works in a range of coaching roles. 

The Diverse Educators’ Inclusive Allyship Toolkit:

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How does material deprivation intersect with ethnicity to understand the variations in the achievement among BAME students?

Nicole Edwards portrait

Written by Nicole Edwards

Deputy Curriculum leader for Social Sciences/Aspiring Heads Student 2020-21

This blog will explore the relationship between material deprivation (social class) and the differences in achievement among Black and Minority Ethnic Groups (BAME) within the United Kingdom. 

It can be argued that there are differences in achievement on groups classified as BAME. According to a report published by the UK Government (2019) titledGCSE results (Attainment 8)’ highlights that overall, students classified as Chinese or Asian tend to have a high attainment 8 score. For example, on average Chinese students scored 64.3 out of 90 and Asian students scored 51.2 out of 90, whereas students classified as Black, scored on average 44.9 out of 90 (UK Government, 2019).  However, there are some significant differences in achievement among students classified as Asian. For example, according to the above report, Indian students tend to have a higher attainment 8 score, of 50.6 out of 90 (UK Government, 2019) compared with that of Pakistani students, who score on average, 46.2 out of 90. Similarly, there are variations in achievement amongst students classified as Black. For example, Black African students on average have a higher attainment 8 score of 47.3 out of 90 compared with Black Caribbean who score on average 39.40 out of 90 (UK Government, 2019). 

The material deprivation theory (which links to social class) could be useful in understanding why there are variations in achievement among BAME groups, which could have an impact on life chances. The term ‘material deprivation’ refers to households which are unable to afford basic resources (including educational resources, school uniform, food etc). The term ‘life chances’ coined by sociologist, Weber, refers to the chances that different social groups have of obtaining those things in society regarded as desirable. For example, educational qualifications or of suffering those things regarded as undesirable, such as, low income. According to Guy Palmer (2012) almost 50% of BAME students tend to come from low-income families which can impact their life chances. For example, some may lack the necessary economic capital to access high-quality education. This includes, not being able to afford extra tuition to support with their learning outside of the classroom, computer devices and internet access for online learning. An article written by Jimenez (2020) discusses the impact of the ‘digital divide’ during the COVID-19 pandemic, on ethnic minority students in the UK, highlights that some students from low-income families less likely to have access to the internet, leading to a gap in educational progress.  

Furthermore, the intersectional relationship between ethnicity and material deprivation, can be reflected in statistical data on Free school meals (FSM) and achievement. In a report by UK Government (2019) indicates that a number of Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black African and Caribbean students from low-income families are eligible for FSM. The material deprivation theory can therefore account for the underperformance of some Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black African/Caribbean students are on FSM, because some of them are unable to afford the necessary academic resources to help them with their studies. As a result, ethnic minorities who are materially deprived and who on FSM tend to make less academic progress than that of students who are not on FSM. As supported by UK Government Report (2019) highlights that pupils on FSM made -0.53 progress, compared with students non-FSM students, who made 0.05 progress on average in 2019. However, not all ethnic minorities who are classified as FSM underperform significantly in education.  It is important to note that Chinese students classified as FSM, made an average progress of 0.66 (UK Government, 2019). In addition, the difference between the progress of Chinese students on FSM and Chinese students who are non-FSM tends to be minimal. Therefore, in this instance, it might be worthwhile understanding whether culture, rather than material deprivation, has more of a significant impact the achievement of Chinese students. 

In conclusion, this blog has discussed how material deprivation intersects with ethnicity in relation to achievement among some BAME students. It has referred to statistical data on attainment scores of BAME groups, including, Chinese (who tend to have a high attainment score) Asian and Black ethnic groups. Notably, there are variations in achievement within both Asian and Black ethnic groups. The material deprivation theory has proven to be useful in understanding the impact of lack of income and resources upon the achievement of some BAME students.

References

Jiménez, D (2020) The Disproportionate Educational Impact of Covid-19 on BAME students. Available at:  https://epigram.org.uk/2020/09/03/the-disproportionate-impact-of-covid-19-in-bame-students/ .

Palmer, G. (2012) The Poverty Site. Available at: www.poverty.org.uk.

UK Government (2019) GCSE results (‘Attainment 8’). Available at: https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/education-skills-and-training/11-to-16-years-old/gcse-results-attainment-8-for-children-aged-14-to-16-key-stage-4/latest 

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How do we deal with racism in the classroom?

Hannah Wilson portrait

Written by Hannah Wilson

Founder of Diverse Educators

So, what do you do, as a teacher, when a student uses a racial slur against you in the online classroom?

This week I had a disclosure in a NQT training session I was hosting from a trainee teacher. The trainee was a woman of colour. She was distressed as she shared an incident from her week at school and asked for advice. She shared that in a lesson with her Year 10s last week, whilst using the platform Kahoot, one of her students referred to her using the N word. She broke down as she finished her story and turned her camera off to gather herself. The zoom room went quiet. Everyone looked deeply uncomfortable. I watched everyone take a breath and pause to see who would speak first.

One of the facilitators, a woman of colour,  unmuted herself and said: “I am sorry. I am really sorry that happened to you”. She went on to share her advice on what the NQT could do. Her co-facilitator, a man of colour, added his advice on how he would handle it if it happened to him. Both gave sound advice, but it struck me that it was centred around what the individual, the victim, should do. It is also struck me that both were talking from a position of lived experience.

As a former teacher trainer, I was aggrieved on her behalf that she had experienced this. As a human being, I was outraged that anyone would think that using a word was acceptable. As a teacher, and a former Headteacher, I was disappointed to hear how the school had handled it. As a white person I was embarrassed and felt sick. Having reported it to her mentor, who had rung her that night to check in, she had been told that they (the school) could not identify the student responsible and she had been advised to send an email (herself!) to the class about the incident.

I was horrified at this response from the school. Why are schools asking the victims of racism to deal with it themselves? Moreover, an early career teacher at that? Why were the SLT not dealing with this racial abuse to show the severity of the situation?

I chipped in and advised that she should escalate it to the SLT responsible for behaviour. That if she did not get a satisfactory response, that she should be escalating it to the Headteacher directly and to consider contacting her union. I DMed her my email address and offered to support in her challenging this failure of the school to protect her. The next day I received an email from her professional tutor assuring me that it had been dealt with internally and that the NQT was being supported the next lesson and that the DHT would be calling each student in the class to identify the culprit.

But the incident has been bothering me ever since… How many other people of colour who have entered  our profession are navigating how to deal with prejudice themselves? Who else is being failed by their school and by the system? Who else is feeling isolated, vulnerable and unsupported?

I tweeted out the scenario to see what others thought and how common place this is. You can see the thread with a myriad of responses here.

Below is a summary of the different perspectives on the situation of a teacher being racially abused by a student:

  1. The teacher should be offered support.
  2. The student should be offered support.
  3. The incident needs a full investigation.
  4. The class should all be asked to write a witness statement.
  5. The student should receive a Fixed Term Exclusion.
  6. The student should have a Permanent Exclusion.
  7. The whole class should be sanctioned.
  8. The incident should be recorded as a racist incident in the school’s racist log.
  9. The governing body should be informed.
  10. The incident should be reported to the LA.
  11. The next lesson should be replaced with an Anti-Racism workshop for the class.
  12. The class should be issued with an Anti-Racism contract.
  13. The parent/ carer should be brought in for a meeting.
  14. The student should write the teacher a letter of apology.
  15. The student/ teacher should have a restorative conversation before the next lesson.
  16. The student should be removed from the class.
  17. The community police officer should be involved.
  18. The student should receive an intervention prior to returning to the next lesson.
  19. The student should sign a behaviour contract on re-entry.
  20. The online teaching/ behaviour expectations should be reinforced to the class.
  21. The behaviour policy should be reviewed for how it tackles racism.
  22. The trainee teacher’s mentor should intervene.
  23. The SLT should attend the next lesson to speak to the class and re-establish boundaries.
  24. The year group should have an assembly on prejudice and discrimination.
  25. The next citizenship / PSHE lesson for the year group should deal with racism.

25 possible and probable actions that should take place to ensure that this member of staff feels safe and is supported, moreover, that another member of staff is not subjected to racial abuse in this school.

But other questions were also raised around the context of the incident:

  • Where do we draw the line at explicit and deliberate racism in our school?
  • How are ITTE providers preparing trainee teachers to deal with prejudice?
  • How are schools supporting NQTs with dealing with discrimination?
  • Should schools be using platforms where you cannot identify students?
  • Should all lessons be recorded so that incidents can be reviewed?
  • Should early career teachers be delivering solo lessons?
  • If the N word is in an extract should the teacher say it out loud? Is it ever okay to use the N word if it is in a teaching resource? Does it make a difference if the teacher saying it is a person of colour?
  • How is the curriculum being reviewed to tackle prejudice?
  • How is the culture of the school being reviewed to educate the students about expectations?
  • How has the mentor been trained to support a NQT from a diverse background?
  • How have the SLT been trained to deal with racism?
  • What is the school’s behaviour policy for prejudice?

There were a lot of comments about attacks based on characteristics being on the increase in our schools, and also in our society. In fact, I have seen several posts on LinkedIn and Twitter this weekend from educators sharing that they have been racially abused at work, but also about people of colour being racially abused in the street.

There were several concerns about the anonymity of online platforms meaning that teaching staff are not protected. Moreover, that there is more room for students to push boundaries. We need to remember that diversity, equity and inclusion work is part of our safeguarding responsibility. Every member of our school community needs to feel physically and psychologically safe.

There is clearly a lot of work for us to do across the system, across the curriculum with both children and staff, around addressing discomfort and intolerance. This incident is indicative of a wider, deeper piece of work that needs to be done. We can sanction the incident in the short term, but how do we prevent it from happening again in the long term?

We all need to be angry at this behaviour no matter what our skin colour. We all need to be part of the solution and take collective responsibility for creating change. We all need to challenge the institutions, the policies and the practices that do not protect people. We all need to speak out, stand up and not only state that this is not okay, but also do something about it by holding others to account.

So, the question should have been: what do you do, as a school, when a student uses a racial slur against a teacher in the online classroom?

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What does it mean to belong in our diverse school communities?

Jac Bastian portrait

Written by Jac Bastian

Has worked at Diversity Role Models for 4 years and has trained thousands of staff members, delivered workshops to students at every phase and created a range of teaching resources on LGBT+ inclusion.

For most of us, diversity is the reality of our schools. We are communities made up of people from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures, religions and so much more. Diversity Role Models’ recent report found that 14% of secondary students surveyed identified as part of the LGBT+ community. This diversity is the reality of school life, but ensuring that students and staff who are LGBT+ feel like they belong in our schools is the challenge we all face.  Sadly, our report also found that only 27% of secondary students felt that someone who was LGBT+ would feel safe to come out at their school. If we cannot be ourselves it is hard to feel like we belong. 

For nearly 10 years Diversity Role Models have brought LGBT+ and ally role models into classrooms to celebrate our differences, to embed empathy and to help transform school cultures to ensure all students feel like they belong. In primary we focus on celebrating diverse families and in secondary we explore the impact of discrimination and derogatory language. In my four years working with the charity, I’ve had the privilege of seeing first-hand the impact of role model stories on young people in schools across the country. 

For me, our workshops have two clear purposes. Firstly, it is to provide positive representation, reassurance and inspiration for any students who may be questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity. To let them know that they can live a happy, successful life being their true self and they deserve to feel like they belong in their school. I’ve had so many students tell me that our workshop was the first time they’d seen someone like themselves represented in their school and we know what a difference that can make. 

The second purpose of our workshops is for all the other students who do not identify as part of the LGBT+ community. It is vital that those students understand the role they have in shaping the culture of a school and understand what they can do to ensure others feel like they belong.  A personal highlight of mine was hearing two Year 10 boys discussing homophobic language after hearing a powerful personal story on the subject from our role model Alex. One turned to the other and said, “you know when we call James a faggot…maybe that’s not ok!”.  It, of course, seems obvious to us that such behaviour is not ok. But allowing students the chance to reflect on the often-unintended impact of such language allowed them the space to reconsider and change their behaviours. At the end of our workshops 84% of secondary students anonymously say they would support a friend who came out as LGBT+. That’s the power of personal stories. If I’d seen even half that number of my classmates say they’d have supported me to come out it would have totally changed my time at school. 

One of the key findings of our report was that schools that regularly taught about LGBT+ identities were also the schools in which students said that homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language and bullying was less common. To ensure our LGBT+ students feel like they belong we must embed visibility and actively celebrate the diversity of our school communities. We must embed this in our ethos and values, in our lessons, assemblies, libraries, displays and even in the examples we use. A member of our Student Voice Group once told me that her maths teacher used an example of a same-sex couple in a maths problem and from that moment on she knew there was at least one person at the school she could talk to if she needed. No matter how small, each action we take can make a difference. 

To make this easier for teachers we’ve made a series of videos featuring stories from our inspiring role models freely available for this term. With LGBT History Month almost upon us, now is the time to actively embrace this visibility across the curriculum and embed it in the culture of our schools. Our schools are already diverse and it’s time we took the necessary steps to ensure every student feels like they belong. 

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Nothing to See Here

Lena Carter portrait

Written by Lena Carter

Writes and speaks extensively on a range of issues related to inclusion and equity.

In December I wrote a post about my achievements in 2020:

https://lenabellina.wordpress.com/2020/12/31/pride-after-a-fall-or-the-highs-and-lows-of-2020/

 

It was a bit cryptic and I made reference to a new piece of information that I had come upon that had helped me to understand myself a bit better.

 

I am now in a position to say that the information was a diagnosis of ADHD. At 51 years old, I have finally found some more answers to my life-long feelings of “otherness” and restlessness.

 

After diagnosis, I wrote a letter to my closest friends explaining what I had found out and shared some of the reasons for me seeking diagnosis:

* the fact that I was very close to burning out, having tried to fit in and keep going over many years in spite of the immense effort of trying to manage and keep a lid on my hyperactivity and poor focus regulation.

* the fact that being 51, peri menopausal and in the middle of a pandemic seems to have massively diminished the efficacy of my coping mechanisms, honed over 5 decades….

* the fact that, after years of soul-searching, talking, writing and trying to fix myself, there was still a part of my jigsaw missing.

 

If you are interested, this is the best summing up of what I have been living that I have read. The lost girls: ‘Chaotic and curious, women with ADHD all have missed red flags that haunt us’ | Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder | The Guardian

 

And this has been astonishingly enlightening. https://www.additudemag.com/secrets-of-the-adhd-brain/

 

Of course, me being me, I immediately thought that I would need to “get on and write a book about it”, or at least add yet another Postscript to my other book to help other people in my situation. But actually, this diagnosis isn’t about me helping other people. Yet, at any rate. It is about me helping me, and accepting help from others, to understand what I can do to improve the quality of my life, albeit at a more advanced age than might have been ideal.

 

In fact, looking back myself at my book, with the knowledge I now have, I can see that it makes very good sense as a record of an undiagnosed woman with ADHD who was trying to progress along a journey of self-discovery without the right map:

https://open.spotify.com/show/6fYtR94Xjo2HdrK0f2wDIu?si=8xobMQG8ROWp2QelRwso-Q

 

And as I read this, now, with the benefit of hindsight, I really wonder why a penny didn’t drop sooner: http://www.pedagoo.org/wellbeing-15-16-teacher5adayslowchat-scotedchat/

 

Fortunately for me and everyone else, I don’t need to write the book in any case as, in a slightly spooky parallel universe way, an amazing woman called Emma Mahony has already written it. I mean, she claims it is about her, a Modern Languages teacher who sought diagnosis at 51, after a life full of incredible achievements but also blighted by constantly being at odds with the world….but she has done a pretty damn good job at writing about my experiences, without ever having met me.

 

Emma’s book is my new bible, along with a range of other sites she recommends. I would strongly recommend it to anyone with an interest in knowing more. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Better-Late-Than-Never-Understand/dp/1789561949

 

So, for now, I am not writing a book. I am not trying to save the world. I am not trying to blame everyone else or just keep trying harder. I am learning to accept that my brain doesn’t work in quite the same way as most people’s. I am also coming to understand that, with that, comes challenges but also great possibilities.

I am slowly and cautiously accepting that the Story of My Self from now on is the story of having both a hidden disability and a superpower. Maybe when I feel a bit more at ease with this, I will write more, do more, advocate more. Or maybe not. Maybe I will just live for a bit.

 

In the meantime, here’s a playlist of songs that help me to make sense of it. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3Kv3z4a5bBtywBEtL7dWct?si=udMhonMqQdaceOBMUcFb9Q

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