What DEI Metrics are you using to measure the impact of your strategic actions?

Hannah Wilson portrait

Written by Hannah Wilson

Founder of Diverse Educators

We are data rich when it comes to the students in our schools, but we are data poor when it comes to our staff.

Any organisation leaning into a DEI strategy and action plan needs to consider the data that they have, and the data that they need to have, to inform the why, the how and the what of their approach.

I find that the CQ framework helps us to think about the cyclical steps we need to take to gather, interpret and act on our DEI data:

  • CQ Drive: Why do we need to gather DEI data? Are our intentions clearly being communicated?
  • CQ Knowledge: What do we need to know about our workforce and workplace? How psychologically safe do employees feel?
  • CQ Strategy: How will we gather meaningful data? How will this data be handled and shared?
  • CQ Action: How will this data be used to inform our next steps? How will this data  make our workplace more inclusive? 

DEI Metrics in a school / trust thus need to include:

  • Baseline data 
  • Benchmarking data
  • Progress data
  • Qualitative data
  • Quantitative data
  • Stakeholder engagement data
  • Stakeholder feedback data
  • Recruitment, retention and promotion data
  • Salary data

We need to remember that this data is about human beings.I once heard a school leader say, we need to focus on the ‘names not the numbers’ in our data trackers in schools. Each piece of data is thus a story, a story about a person.

So this data needs to be handled with care. DEI data is asking people to share their identity, their lived experience and to disclose personal details. This can only happen in a culture of intentional trust and psychological safety.

Moreover, the data needs to be handled in an intersectional way. We need to look at trends within groups but also across groups, for example, pay progression for men v women, pay progression for white v black employees, pay progression for white men v white women v black men v black women.

Recruitment and retention data is a great place to start:

  • Who are we attracting?
  • Who are we longlisting?
  • Who are we shortlisting?
  • Who are we interviewing?
  • Who are we recruiting?
  • Who are we promoting?
  • Who are we retaining?
  • Who are we losing? 

Some other questions for us to discuss before we create and send out a staff survey. 

How do we measure diversity?

Conventional measurements rely on counting the number of people within an organisation who belong to each of the protected characteristic groups, as identified by them.

How do we gauge how people feel about the culture of their workplace?

Employee feedback is one of the most useful data sources for measuring inclusion, especially when leaders can use a “pulse,” a quick survey, to check in with employees without adding to distractions. The challenge, however, is in first establishing the right metrics and then asking the right questions.

How do we frame a DEI survey?

To create a DEI survey that captures employee attention and gets engagement, there are a number of factors to consider:

  • Creating Inclusive Demographic Questions
  • Making the DEI Survey Anonymous
  • Making Questions Non-Required
  • Being Forthcoming With Intent
  • Using Expert Resources

What is a DEI dashboard?

A diversity, equity, and inclusion dashboard is an interface that provides companies with a visual representation of their current diversity, equity, and inclusion practices.

How do you create goals for DEI initiatives?

  • Define goals using benchmarking data 
  • Measure outcomes, not just output
  • Focus on retention, not just recruitment
  • Review inclusion, not just diversity
  • Use surveys to measure inclusion

How do you measure DEI effectiveness?

  • Resources/ funds allocated to DEI strategy
  • Number of diverse employees across the organisation
  • Percentage of diverse employees in leadership positions
  • Investment into development programmes for diverse employees
  • Gap in pay between different demographic groups
  • Length of time diverse employees stay with the organisation
  • Feedback in exit interviews from diverse workforce
  • Number of incident reports e.g. microaggressions

To help you think about the data you are, and could be, using we are hosting a series of free DEI Metrics webinars with some of our collaborative partners, so that you can find out more about their tools to help you measure DEI in your school/ trust.

3 teams, 3 platforms, 3 solutions:

  • On Fri 21st October 12.00-1.00pm we will be joined by the Edurio team
  • On Mon 7th November 12.00-1.00pm we will be joined by The GEC team
  • On Thu 24th November 12.00-1.00pm we will be joined the Flair Impact team

Register to attend but also to receive a link to the recording of each session.

I’m not weird, I’m neurodivergent – masking as a ND teacher

Catrina Lowri portrait

Written by Catrina Lowri

Catrina Lowri is the founder of Neuroteachers and a neurodivergent teacher, trainer, and coach. As well as having 22 years’ experience of working in education, she also speaks as a dyslexic and bipolar woman, who had her own unique journey through the education system.

Early in my teaching career, I got good at masking. I felt I needed to do this because, at that time (late 90’s/ early 00’s) there was little understanding of neurodiversity. I’m dyslexic. I hid this because I’d get questions like ‘But how can you teach spelling and reading?’ I’m also bipolar. I didn’t know this at the time, even though I’d been in a secure ward. I wouldn’t get diagnosed until I was 10 years into my career. At the beginning I hid this unknown mental health issue because of the shame I felt. I learnt to mask so I could survive working in schools designed for neurotypicals.

The term ‘masking’ originates from the autistic community, but my straw poll of ND friends and family tells me that we all do it. This involves studying the neurotypical people around you and acting like them, whilst also hiding our ND in plain sight. It can be incredibly damaging. Masking takes a huge amount of energy.  There is a possibility of fatigue. This can lead to burnout. Dropping the mask in such a fashion can be traumatic.

For more information, please read my blog here https://www.neuroteachers.com/post/it-s-like-her-shoes-don-t-fit-a-story-about-the-consequences-of-autistic-masking

Even though I have understood masking for years, I didn’t consider that it applied to me until, after 19 years of success, it all unravelled. 

Carrying the mask requires perfect conditions; I control my sleep, have cut out all alcohol and caffeine. I draw boundaries around my working life so I can fully concentrate on it. This means I don’t indulge in trivial social interactions because I just can’t. If I do, I burn through the energy I need to do my job, which is what I’m paid for. Teaching is a social job. I use what little ‘social’ I must, to build relationships with the children and their families.

That doesn’t mean I don’t make friends at work, I do, I just need them to understand that I can’t/ won’t take part in the following activities.

  • Banter, small talk, watercooler chat
  • Group jokes/ threads about your pets/kids or memes shared via email or the office chat facility
  • Any Christmas do\ Secret Santa\ carolling\ staff pantomime
  • Going to a pub/ café for lunch during school hours

It’s not unreasonable to ask that I have 20 minutes out of the day, to sit quietly in the office and eat my lunch, without having to interact with anyone. I need decompression time to deal with the demands of your neurotypical world.

I’m not being weird or stuck up. I’m not a recluse or a nutter. I’m neurodivergent and I need to be allowed to remove the mask for a short while, so that I can do my job.

What is your school’s infrastructure for DEI?

Hannah Wilson portrait

Written by Hannah Wilson

Founder of Diverse Educators

I get asked a lot to work with schools to help them shape their DEI infrastructure. There is not a one-size fits all approach as it depends on the size of your school and staff/ student bodies. But a helpful way of thinking about it is to parallel it to the team structure you have for safeguarding – a named lead on SLT, a deputising team, an attached governor but an expectation that all staff are trained, vigilant and take collective responsibility. 

As a former start-up headteacher, I apply the same concept to staffing DEI as I did to growing a school staff model year by year – map out what you want the long term staffing structure and stakeholder map to look like and use it as a shadow to capture what you have in place and set yourself targets by term, by year of how you will grow the team and distribute the leadership.   

Some school-level roles to consider putting in place, over time to create the infrastructure to bring your DEI strategy to life: 

DEI Strategic Lead (like a DSL)

This is the person who has DEI in their job title. Ideally they sit on the SLT so they can work with the strategic plans for the school. 

DEI Operational Lead (like a DDSL)

This is the person who deputises for the DEI Strategic Lead. They often sit in the MLT and are part of the curriculum and/ or pastoral team. They might have a specific remit or share the responsibility and co-lead on the strategy.

DEI Governor (like a Safeguarding Governor) 

This is the link person on the governing body. Someone to represent the governors but to also build the bridge to the school, furthermore to support and to be a critical friend to the DEI leader. 

DEI Working Party

This is a group of staff champions and ambassadors, they can sit anywhere in the staff structure, but it is important to invite everyone and see who steps forwards. Non-teaching staff need to be invited and included as well so consider when the meetings take place. 

DEI Student Ambassadors

This is a group of students who are the advocates and activists in the school. They might already be prefects, student council reps or involved in student groups like an anti-racist group or a LGBT group. It is a great way to create new leadership roles for students.

DEI Parent and Carer Champions

This is a group of parents and carers who are the advocates and activists in your community. They might already be involved as your parent governor, as your parent association or as your parent helpers. It is a great way to engage parents and carers who might be the critical friends of the school on these issues. 

Some trust-level DEI roles to consider if you are working at macro scale:

A lot of trusts we work with are asking all of their schools to nominate/ appoint a lead for DEI and then they create a horizontal group across the group of schools to bring these representatives together to look at trust-wide DEI needs. There are some key functions to make sure you include in this group such as someone from HR who is looking at the people strategy and recruitment practices.

Some other things to consider:

The language used to frame each of these roles and groups is important and needs to be discussed at length. 

  • Are you using DI, EDI or DEI as your acronym?  What are the nuances of each and how do they frame your commitment?
  • Are you using leader, champion, ambassador, head of or director as the title? What are the nuances of each and what do they say about the power/ scope of the role?
  • How are you remunerating the role? If you have not given time and money to this role, why not? Would you ask someone to be a SENDCO or DSL without additional allowances?
  • How are you resourcing the role? Does the DEI lead have a budget that they are responsible for?
  • How are you investing in and training the DEI team? Does the DEI leader have leadership training coaching and/ or mentoring in place? Are they being set up to succeed or fail in this role?
  • How are you safeguarding the DEI team? Does the DEI leader have supervision in place to look after them and their mental health and wellbeing to mitigate the emotional tax of the role?  

Some signposting for further support:

We have collated job descriptions and personal specifications for different DEI roles to help you frame them. Find out more here:   


We have a DEI leaders network on different social media spaces including a DM group on twitter and networking groups in our Mighty Network community space: 


We have designed and we deliver a 1 year DEI leaders programme, there are 10 monthly virtual sessions for each cohort. Find out more here: 


Accessing the voices of students with SENDs: barriers faced by a PhD researcher

Klaudia Matasovska portrait

Written by Klaudia Matasovska

Former SEND teacher. She worked for 16 years in London, specifically in the areas of autism and sight impairment. She is currently working as a researcher at Goldsmiths, University of London.

I am really enjoying my PhD journey and I wanted to share some of my key experiences here. In particular, I wanted to talk about the issue of access to students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) which I encountered during my recent data collection. My PhD research interests centre around LGBT inclusion with pupils with SEND. For those who have an interest in intersectional research regarding inclusion and equality in education, this blog might be of use. 

Based on my previous practice as a former SEN teacher, the barriers to disabled students’ voices being heard are often there because of the attitudes of others. Sometimes the barriers are (openly) presented via the attitudes of those who are supposed to be on their side. I once had an ex-colleague, a senior leader in one of the schools I worked at, confiding in me that she did not regard disabled students’ right to information about LGBT as ‘important’ because she expected them to have no romantic lives due to their disabilities. Other barriers can be presented via fear rather than stigma. Research shows that there does appear to be a deep-rooted fear amongst educators that talking about non-heterosexual intimacy and relationships with students with SEND is somehow risky.

Research involving the actual voices of students with SEND is limited and I wonder if this is partially due to restrictions imposed on researchers by students’ gatekeepers. This has been my experience, too. Earlier this year, I organised a series of research trips for the Year 1 evaluation of the ‘Equally Safe’ anti-bullying project of the EqualiTeach charity. I worked with a sample of eight mainstream primary and secondary schools including faith and church schools across a range of areas. During my interviews with staff and focus groups with students, I asked about aspects of the Equally Safe programme, such as creating inclusive policies and tackling identity-based bullying using a whole-school approach. I was viewing this research project via an intersectional lens and therefore, the evaluation was also seeking to elicit discussions about the LGBT and SEND intersections amongst other things. The gatekeepers, members of the leadership teams, were asked to select focus group student participants representing a wider selection of the protected characteristics of the Equality Act (2010) and involve student participants who traditionally might not have a voice, such as students with SENDs. Unfortunately, as it turned out – there were no focus group participants present who had any recorded SEND. 

I understood that this type of research project can feature sensitive information and there is a need to protect any vulnerable students, ethically speaking. Despite this, the gatekeepers’ efforts to deny those from the under-represented groups an opportunity to have a voice in a research project on identity-based bullying was surprising. In sharp contrast, the focus groups included other types of under-represented pupils. For example, they often (but not always) featured pupils who had come out as LGBT. This is an interesting phenomenon given the fact that the controversial Section 28 of the Local Government Act (1988) is still impacting school culture in England. This is evident in misconceptions about what is suitable and ‘appropriate’ to teach which some educators can still struggle with. Often when I interview teachers about LGBT RSE topics or the SEND/LGBT intersection regarding their school policies and inclusive practice, I notice a hint of anxiety in their responses. They tend to stress that they follow the Equality Act (2010) and often mention having a considerable number of students with SEND. My experience with having no access to this category of students in these schools makes me question the cause behind this. Is this all happening because these schools just do not see these intersections? If that is the case indeed – why don’t they see them? Could the cause of this phenomenon be partially the result of the influence of Section 28? Do educators find dealing with certain types of intersections difficult and uncomfortable despite the law?

I will carry these questions into the second year of my PhD studies. It will be interesting to see if these issues with having access to students with SENDs will still be evident in the next sample of schools I am planning to visit. I would be interested to hear about your academic experiences in this area and any barriers you may have experienced in collecting data involving those who represent the ‘less heard’ category of students. Please, do not hesitate to get in touch with me. 

What’s in a name?

Elen Jones portrait

Written by Elen Jones

Director at Ambition Institute. Former teacher in South London and West Wales.

As we start a new term and meet new pupils, families, teachers and colleagues, let’s take a moment and a little extra care towards each other and get each other’s names right.

My name is Elen Mair Jones.  Aside from being quintessentially Welsh it’s pretty hard to get wrong.  Often the ‘Mair’ becomes ‘mare’ as in ‘bear’ through an English lens.  I can’t think of an English word that mirrors the pronunciation of the ‘air’ in ‘Mair’ so find a Welsh person nearby and they’ll give you a demo.  Sometimes Elen becomes Ellen, it annoys me from time to time.  However, when I moved to University and joined a welcome session with the college chaplain and I introduced myself:

“Hello, I’m Elen” with a big wide Welsh second ‘e’ as in the ‘ai’ sound in English ‘hair’.

I met the response: 

“It will probably be Elen here” with a low second ‘e’ as in the ‘u’ in English ‘gun’.  

It wasn’t a response that oozed welcome.  I was an eighteen-year-old from a quarrying village in North Wales amongst the first generation of her family to attend university.  I’d worked bloody hard to get there.  It was a bit of a kick in the teeth.  Clearly, I did not belong, and it seemed that I would have to compromise on some of the rough edges of my identity if I wanted that to change.

As we start a new term I was reminded of this incident.  I have been meeting new colleagues, my children are off to meet new teachers and teachers are meeting new pupils.  Learning each other’s names can take time, and we can all make mistakes.  

When I started my teaching career in South London I met children with names that I had never encountered.  My first response to this, one that I now regret, was to muddle through.  I would either mumble something incoherent when I first called out their names on the register or make a guess.  The guesses became more informed over time, but still, in the midst of new seating plans, timetables, resources and highlighters I didn’t take enough time to – carefully – learn my pupils’ names.        

The risk is that pupils, colleagues and families end up feeling like I felt in that welcome session as an eighteen-year-old.  Names are one of the artefacts of our identities: like hairstyles, pronouns and gestures.  Some of these artefacts will matter more to some of us than to others, and that’s fine.  In mispronouncing or misspelling someone’s name, often out of sheer haste and with no ill intention, we suggest that that aspect of their identity needs to be malleable for them to be a part of our class, our school, our organisation or community.  I have never had to ask people to correct the pronunciation or spelling of my name particularly often, for those who do it must feel like a constant battle to assert their full identity.  It is a position that people whose names have roots in languages other than English find themselves in more often than those whose names do not.    

So as we start a new term, let’s take a little extra care with each other.  Eventually, I would just ask the pupil how to pronounce their name if I didn’t know.  They would tell me.  I would apologise for my ignorance.  Rightly.  There are also ways in which we can take care of each other without placing a burden on those who have to fight this battle frequently.  We can ask a colleague about how we pronounce a pupil or family name.  We can take extra care with our spelling, even if we are in a rush, where we know a spelling is unfamiliar to us.  Recently, I misspelt a colleague’s name twice in close succession and felt really bad, especially the second time, and so I should.  Their name was similar to a very common English word and I was careless.  There are reasons why we may all misspell a name – our brains are wired to find a familiar pattern.  Allam can become Allen because our brain has sought the familiar and accidently missed the detail.  We have to make that bit of extra effort to not jump to the familiar, and to be conscious of where we may need to exert that bit of extra effort. 

So as we start a new school year, get to know new people, let’s do that with a little extra care, and get each other’s names right.   

be seen. be heard. be known. belong.

Matthew Savage portrait

Written by Matthew Savage

Former international school Principal, proud father of two transgender adult children, Associate Consultant with LSC Education, and founder of #themonalisaeffect.

I am increasingly of the opinion that every piece of policy and practice in our schools should intentionally centre, and be grounded in, both the pursuit of #deij and putting and keeping #wellbeingfirst. These are, for me, the two golden threads of education.

Consequently, and necessarily, all of the work I do with schools across the world is interwoven with these threads at all times. This is why my mission, as we step into a new academic year yet burgeoning with possibility, has been adapted fully to reflect this.

It is too easy for us to be distracted by other, competing priorities, forgetting that to have too many priorities is to have none. Therefore, now seems as good a time as any to revisit and reset our own.

I believe that every single member of each school community has a fundamental, inalienable and unconditional right to “be seen, be heard, be known and belong”. And I believe that it is my duty to embed and protect that right in everything I do.

We must each be seen for every intersecting identity that makes us who we are, throughout every stratum of what I call the ‘5 Cs of visibility’ – communication, curriculum, campus, climate and culture. We can, and must, audit this, in order to make sure it happens.

We must each be heard, and listened to, honestly, openly, actively and often, so that our voice, and the collective voice of our communities, inform and infuse the decisions that our made on our behalf. Student, staff and parent voice initiatives need to be authentic and systemic.

We must each be known, not for the masks we wear, thickly and well, but for the messy bundle of pains and passions, pasts and futures, needs and strengths we inhabit when not trying to comply, conform or perform. This is where datahard and soft, cold and warm, satellite and street – must play a part.

And if, and only if, we can each enjoy each of these three things, whether we be parent, staff or student, can we begin to belong, a vital, valued and vocal part of our school. And if we belong, then we can begin to thrive, for it is when thriving that the holistic outcomes, of individuals and of teams, are optimised.

As an educator, as a leader, what will you do this year to help ensure every single member of your school community be seen, be heard and be known, in order that everyone can truly belong? 

The Anti-Racist Journey of a Secondary School in Manchester

Laura Morris portrait

Written by Laura Morris

Laura Morris (@MissMorrisManc) is head of RS and Citizenship at a secondary school in Gorton, Manchester, with additional whole school responsibilities for SMSC and anti-discrimination. She has been teaching for 15 years. Her website is MissMorrisManc.co.uk.

Before the Black Lives Matter mobilisation of 2020, and all that followed, staff at the school I work at in Gorton, Manchester, would largely have felt positively about the work we were doing to celebrate our students, myself included. We went all out for Black History Month every year with relevant lessons across departments and external visitors invited in (as showcased in this video from October 2019), we had very few complaints of racist incidents from the students, and some work had been undertaken to decolonise the curriculum, particularly in subjects like RS, Citizenship, History and Geography. We could pat ourselves on the back for a job well done!

With all the work we’ve done since, and the huge changes that have been made, I now feel embarrassed to reflect back to pre-2020 when I thought we were already doing enough for our students. We weren’t.

Before we broke up for summer this year, I wrote a report detailing what we’ve done so far with the hope it could give ideas to other teachers and save them some time if they are starting from scratch. It’s been a process of trial and error and, while we’re still far from perfect and keen to collaborate with other schools to help us further improve, I am confident that we are now having a much more positive impact on our students in making them feel seen, appreciated, safe and loved. 

In this blog I will summarise the most important parts from the report for people who are keen to improve the anti-racist practice in their school.

Named members of staff

Towards the end of the 2020-21 academic year, my colleague Ben Wilson was given a TLR to focus on anti-discrimination work in the academy and I was made associate assistant head with the same priority, which I realise puts us in a very fortunate position. Our head teacher included this anti-racist work as an objective in the school improvement plan and believed it was necessary to appoint people in posts to achieve our goals. I can’t stress enough how important it is for all schools to be willing to give time and money to staff doing this work and can only hope the example from our school will help other teachers feel confident to take similar proposals to their head teachers. 

Staff groups

If I had to single out the most impactful elements of our process, it would be the staff and student groups. So many changes have been made but it’s hard to think of anything we’ve done that didn’t first come from conversations held in these spaces. 

I realise how lucky I am to work alongside enough people who recognise the institutional racism present in education and were prepared to give up their time to do something about it, and that’s how the anti-racist working group (ARWG) was formed in September 2020.

We created sub-groups, each taking responsibility for a different area that we decided needed to improve, like the behaviour system and reporting incidents of discrimination, student voice, the curriculum, and staff CPD.

If you don’t feel as though you’ve got enough members of staff with the interest or time capacity to take on this work, there is no need to panic, as it is the students who have guided so much of what we’ve achieved. They are the experts and are invaluable to bringing about change.

Student voice

Student meetings started in early May 2020 during lockdown on Zoom with organisations like Kids of Colour (who still lead student meetings half-termly) and The Black Curriculum, and continued informally during lunch times when we returned to school the following academic year. It became clear how important it was for our young people to be given time to talk about their experiences of racism both in and outside of school.

At the start of the 2021-22 academic year we interviewed Year 11 students for anti-discrimination ambassador roles. They decide the agenda for the separate fortnightly KS3 and KS4 meetings, which are held during the 30-minute form time slot, lead the discussion, and, while I am in the room (to take back any pressing concerns to the ARWG), the ambassadors take responsibility for the meetings. Students discuss their personal experiences outside of school, what they believe needs to change in school, and anything that is going on in wider society that they would like to talk about. Any students who don’t feel comfortable reporting incidents of discrimination to teachers can go to the ambassadors who then feed back the details to Ben or me. 

One of last year’s anti-discrimination student ambassadors said: “I feel like having this space for students is really important because we come together as a community to discuss issues that really matter to us and we think of ways to resolve it and deal with it.”

We have an annual anonymous anti-racist student survey, to help us identify issues that may be affecting students who don’t attend the meetings, and the student groups have delivered assemblies in response to the feedback to educate all students on discriminatory behaviour they might knowingly or unknowingly be perpetuating.

Towards the end of the 2020-21 academic year, Year 11 students wrote down examples of times that staff had said or done racially or culturally insensitive or offensive things. I recorded them reading out the statement of another student, to ensure anonymity, and played the video to staff during a CPD session. 

Hearing the accounts woke up so many members of staff to the experience of the students, which has meant that all the work that has followed, that has resulted in an extra time commitment for pretty much everyone working in the academy, has been easier to achieve. There’s little room to question or complain about the need for change when you have student testimony to support the cause.

Discriminatory incidents

Discussion in the student groups highlighted the need for us to better deal with incidents of discrimination between students. Racism was very rarely reported but feedback from the student groups revealed this was down to the students feeling as though nothing would happen as a consequence, either because they had reported something in the past and hadn’t heard how or if it had been dealt with, or their belief that it wasn’t a priority for staff.

Ben created a reporting system (that you can read about in more detail in the report), which was trialled at the end of the 2020-21 academic year and put in place the following year, which has currently significantly increased the workload of staff who deal with behaviour incidents. But it has also meant we are in a much stronger position to educate and sanction students involved in discriminatory behaviour, as well as validate the feelings of, and bring resolution to, the victims. Different forms of microaggressions are the most commonly reported incident and students have responded incredibly well to the educational sessions they attend with Ben or me as a consequence. Victims are given the opportunity for a restorative conversation, once pre-restorative work has taken place with both students, and they almost always choose to take up this offer in the process. 

The number of repeat offenders is minimal, if not close to non-existent. But the number of reported incidents has increased. Students now have the confidence in the school to respond appropriately to accusations of discrimination.

As one of last year’s ambassadors put it: “when I look back at when I was in Year 9, if someone said something racist to me I would just go home and cry. But now I would feel empowered enough to report it and I hope younger students feel that way too.”

Curriculum changes

All subject leaders completed The Key’s anti-racism curriculum review document, which identified areas for improvement for departments already on the journey of decolonising their curriculum and served as a fantastic starting point for teachers who didn’t know where to begin.

After being given department time to plan and create new resources, we’ve had a carousel format for whole school CPD sessions to share these across departments. Most departments now have a member of staff with an objective in their appraisal relating to diversifying their curriculum. During the carousel CPD we have a ‘speed dating’ format where staff spend a few minutes listening to the changes each department has made, and having discussions on the impact and any possible cross-curricular links, before moving on to the next department.

We recognised the need to better signpost these changes to students. Bennie Kara delivered a bespoke CPD session for our staff last December where she suggested posters to be placed around school. Now every classroom has a subject specific poster highlighting content relating to race (as well as sexuality, gender and religion) in our curriculums. Before breaking up for summer, subject specific PowerPoints were shown to all students too so they knew what to expect in the year ahead. Examples of what we teach can be found on our school website.

For more details on the processes above as well as other initiatives we’ve implemented, check out the report in full. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter too!

Building a Multi-Faith Space

Hollie Panther portrait

Written by Hollie Panther

DEI Lead, Mental Health First Aider, secondary Science & Psychology teacher and Teach First Ambassador.

Experiences of, and learnings from, establishing a space for prayer and celebration of religious diversity in a secondary school.

The last school I worked in had a majority non-religious student population, but a diverse spread of religions among those who did follow a faith; many religions had just one follower within the student body. A parent of one such student had mentioned that they were uncomfortable being open about their faith due to the amount of discrimination they’d received in the past. As D&I Lead, a large part of my strategy to improve religious inclusion in the school was to open a Multi-Faith Space. When I started, there was no designated place to pray; my previous school did have a prayer room, but it was hidden away and only students or staff who asked about it were encouraged to use it. I wanted to create a space that people from all religions could use, so that it would encourage some sense of community, which I thought those who were the solo followers of their faith within the school might’ve been lacking. I also wanted it to be a place of celebration and curiosity, so that any student could learn about diverse faiths if they wanted to. The space was initially opened as a work-in-progress during Ramadan, to give Muslim students a place to pray and be away from food if they needed it. During this time I also designated a toilet block for Wudu, the practice of washing before prayer, and delivered whole school talks educating students about Ramadan and how to support students who were fasting. Feedback from this was unsolicited and overwhelmingly positive — parents of Muslim pupils wrote in to the school to congratulate and give thanks for the ‘exemplary inclusion effort for Ramadan’; my wish is for this approach to Ramadan to become the norm in all schools, so all pupils can celebrate the diversity of religious practices alongside one another.

Working alongside the Multi-Faith Space was the Religion & Spirituality Society, which I established as a student-led club who met at lunchtime to explore and learn about various religions. The leaders of the society planned activities and presentations for the group, and brought in occasional themed snacks too — I’m hoping the society will meet in the Multi-Faith Space going forwards, to ensure they are surrounded by diverse religions, with the opportunity to learn about them being easily accessible.

The Multi-Faith Space is two small rooms off of the Library, where I have put up shelves on each wall and designated each of the six walls to a major world religion (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism). I reached out to religious leaders in the community to see if they would be happy to donate a copy of their religion’s text or any artefacts that could go on the shelves. This took the form of finding email addresses of local Mosques, Churches, Gurdwaras etc, or filling in contact forms on their website, and Googling ‘free copy Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist etc text’, and making sure in my message I invited them to send my request on to anyone else they thought might be able to help out. As a result of this I had an incredible array of items gifted to the Multi-Faith Space by several local religious groups, and had an insightful and useful meeting with the representative of Judaism from the West Sussex SACRE (every county council have representatives of world religions, who are keen to come into schools to deliver lessons / assemblies etc on their religion, I’m hoping the next D&I Lead and teachers of RE will be able to make use of this otherwise untapped source after my introductions — none of the RE teachers in the school had heard of them). Several sources of items and books posted them to me or dropped them in to the school, but I also visited several organisations to collect their donations, which I really enjoyed, as it took me to places I wouldn’t have ordinarily visited within my local community.

I organised a Grand Opening for the Multi-Faith Space to which I invited all the local contributors, as well as staff and religious students. The student leader of Religion & Spirituality Society was invited to cut the ribbon; it was a great opportunity for me to connect up school staff and the pupils who will be running the Religion & Spirituality Society next year with community religious leaders (over donuts and cookies), so that they are able to lean on them for support with the society and also with RE teaching as the school grows. One community attendee at the Grand Opening came from the Baháʼís, a religion I admittedly hadn’t heard of when they initially made contact, but which I learnt much about through talking to this local follower at the event. They also donated several items and books to the Multi-Faith Space, and though they didn’t have a designated wall and shelves, I set up a table in the space to display their information, and was really glad to be representing a greater diversity of faiths than I had originally planned for.

I had a student volunteering with me for their Duke of Edinburgh’s Bronze award, who helped me plan the space and also worked in the Design Technology (DT) room on a signpost to go outside of the Multi-Faith Space, which featured laser-cut arrows, each one with a different place of worship on it — ‘Hindu Mandir’, ‘Sikh Gurdwara’ etc. Unfortunately, because the student could only work on this under supervision by the DT teacher, due to technology issues and absence, the sign was not finished in time for the Grand Opening — I look forward to seeing photos of it in pride of place when it’s completed in the Autumn term.

My advice to anyone thinking about building such a space would be to absolutely go for it — the only spend was on the shelves and snacks for the Grand Opening, as well a couple of items to represent religions who didn’t get back to me to contribute anything. The rest was furniture that was already in the school, and the items and books gifted by the religious community were invaluable — so it’s doable on a tiny budget, I would just encourage anyone wanting to build one to start early, and get your message with the call for help / donations really clear and send it to as many people as possible, ideally alongside an invite to a Grand Opening — and then chase them up if they haven’t replied; I got the impression that everyone wanted to help, but that sometimes there are multiple people within a place of worship who read the emails, so they may not get picked up the first time around.

On the whole, I really enjoyed building the Multi-Faith Space and I’m really proud of what I achieved with this — the Grand Opening was on my penultimate day working at the school, so it really feels like a legacy I’m leaving behind; a tangible asset to the school community that will continue my work without me.