Leaders Like Us

Emily Norman portrait

Written by Emily Norman

Emily Norman is the Head of Curriculum and Inclusion for the Church of England’s Education Office. She was formerly a headteacher in central London, an RE consultant and SIAMS inspector.

Our plan to improve representation in school leadership – Church of England Foundation for Educational Leadership

“I really do think that it’s critical that teaching is an inclusive profession. Schools and their leadership teams should reflect their communities and their pupils and I’m absolutely determined to see improvements. I think we need inspiring teachers to represent and motivate pupils from all walks of life.” 

Nadhim Zahawi, previous Secretary of State for Education (9.10.21)

This autumn, the Church of England’s Education Office is embarking upon an ambitious project to radically increase the representation of school leaders from UKME backgrounds over the next five years. It is called ‘Leaders Like Us’.

Currently, there are less than 400 headteachers in English schools from UKME backgrounds although there are close to 3 million students. That is a ratio of 1 headteacher to over 7,000 UKME students (data from Professor Paul Miller, Institute for Equity). The effect of this is that the children and young people in our education system are not seeing themselves reflected in the leadership of their schools. This affects their ability to view themselves as future teachers or school leaders, and decisions about the curriculum they study, pedagogical approaches applied in the classroom, how their behaviour and wellbeing are supported and/or managed are all made by teachers and leaders without their lived experience. 

Research tells us that the impact of teacher and school leader representation on students is significant; their attainment and likelihood of progressing to tertiary education is exponentially higher. Their exclusion and suspension rates decrease. Their future aspirations are higher because ‘if you can see it, you can be it’. (A phrase used, for example to describe the impact Nichelle Nichols’ NASA campaign had on Dr Mae Jemison – the first black female astronaut in space).

And why is this so urgent and necessary? 

Data released this summer about school exclusions shows that pupils from a Gypsy and Roma background (18 in every 10,000), followed by those from mixed white and black Caribbean backgrounds (12 in every 10,000) had the highest rates of exclusion in the country. This is much higher than the rates of their White British peers (5 in every 10,00). Permanent exclusions and suspensions in England, Academic Year 2020/21 – Explore education statistics – GOV.UK (explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk)

Attainment in this country also shows similar patterns, with White British students attaining at national average in primary SATs tests (65%) and GCSE Progress 8 (50%) while black Caribbean and mixed white/ black Caribbean students achieving below average (56% and 59% respectively for SATs and 44% for Progress 8). https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/ 

Knowing the significant impact that representation amongst teachers and school leaders can have, we have a moral imperative to secure significant increases that result in the 1/3 of pupils who come from UKME backgrounds seeing themselves reflected in the classroom.

Is this only about improving outcomes for pupils?

The Church of England’s vision for schools – a vision for human flourishing and ‘life in all its fullness’ – is absolutely for the pupils in our education sector. Each and every one of them. But it is also a vision for flourishing staff and adults. Our UKME teachers and leaders should have every possible opportunity to progress, achieve and thrive in our schools. 

Data, however, shows that teachers from UKME backgrounds are much less likely to progress to senior positions within their schools than their white peers, becoming increasingly under-represented the further up the ladder you go. The recent NFER report highlighted these issues, showing that rather than improving over the last few years (given all the DEI initiatives taking place), there has in fact been a decline in representation: Racial equality in the teacher workforce – NFER

We must do all we can to nurture the ambition and confidence of our UKME teachers, whilst intentionally removing the barriers and obstacles in their way, so that they can develop into leadership roles that enable them to flourish. We must proactively create school cultures which enable progression, the ability to excel and shine and be seen, places of true belonging. That goes far beyond mission statements, slogans and DEI action plans; it is about living and breathing diversity and inclusion – rooted in the core belief that we belong together and until everyone is flourishing, no one truly does.

Furthermore, research shows us what we probably already know – that diverse teams drive up effectiveness, creativity and innovation within their organisations (see Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter (hbr.org)), which can only be good for the education sector. Our pupils need to be taught by diverse teams. Our schools need to be led by diverse teams. Our society needs to be transformed by diverse teams.

So what can we do about it?

We know we have to address this issue with vigour and urgency. Our ‘Leaders Like Us’ programme seeks to double the existing number of headteachers from UKME backgrounds over the next five years. It utilises the research around what we know works in the recruitment, progression and retention of UKME school leaders (from e.g. Miller 2020), as well as our extensive networks of schools (the Church of England represents 22% of the sector nationally and up to a third when combined with the Catholic sector, with whom we now deliver the NPQs) from which we aim to recruit both participants and mentors to host and support those participants. 

This isn’t to say it is just a church school programme for church school people! Like with all our programmes and networks, ‘Leaders Like Us’ is open to anyone who would like to learn and develop within a values-led environment which is built upon Christian foundations and is utterly committed to serving the common good. 

The programme has four strands: access to accredited training (such as an NPQ or the excellent Aspiring Heads programme), shadowing an experienced headteacher in another context, mentoring to support progression and networking together as a cohort of leaders. It has been devised by successful UKME headteachers, drawing upon their own experience to devise a programme which is grounded in research.

Professor Paul Miller wrote in 2019: Doing race equality in schools is serious business that requires courage and the moral use of power that extends beyond sympathising to taking actions.’

‘Leaders Like Us’ is our call to action for schools, dioceses and trusts all round the country to sponsor an applicant, talent-spot a future leader, apply to become a host and mentor and to commit to long-term culture change. To have the courage to go beyond sympathy and actually take action!

Leaders Like Us’ launches in January 2023. Applications are open now, and the deadline is 11th November 2022. www.cefel.org.uk/leaderslikeus/

Accessing accurate funding for your EAL pupils through the October Census

Catherine Brennan portrait

Written by Catherine Brennan

Catherine is the Director of Better Bilingual, a social enterprise based in Bristol, an EAL Academy Associate and active member of NALDIC.

One of the questions which often comes up during our Better Bilingual discussions with schools about developing EAL provision is funding. No surprise there…but what IS surprising is the absence of information and understanding about English as an additional language (EAL) being one of the 14 funding factors explicitly identified in England’s Schools operational guide: 2022-23 

In this blog, I aim to explain what this EAL funding is and how schools may more easily understand – and hopefully access it – for the benefit of our many multilingual pupils, in relation to the Protected Characteristic of ‘Race’.

What is this EAL funding and how can schools access it?

This education funding guidance from the Education & Skills Funding Agency identifies English as an additional language (EAL) as beingan optional factor’ for local authorities to consider when they ‘plan the local implementation of the funding system’ – i.e. when they allocate central government funding to local schools.

The guidance specifies that ‘Pupils identified in the October census with a first language other than English may attract funding for up to three years after they enter the statutory school system. Local authorities can choose to use indicators based on one, two, or three years, and there can be separate unit values for primary and secondary.’

The means that each individual EAL pupil in a primary school could attract between £500 and £750 per pupil, whilst secondary funding could be between £1,500 and £1,750 per pupil. 

This could be for 1 year or up to 3 years – all depending on how your local authority has decided to use this ‘optional factor’. So a considerable amount of money…

You can read an analysis of ‘how each local authority has allocated their dedicated schools grant (DSG) schools block funding for 2022 to 2023’ here:  Schools Block Funding Formulae 2022 to 2023 (Education & Skills Funding Agency, June 2022).

Why is the October Census so important for schools’ EAL funding?

There are two reasons for this – firstly because this EAL data is collected only once each year through the October Census and secondly because the ‘first language’ definition is often misunderstood, meaning that many EAL pupils are not recorded correctly in the October Census. This can result in schools (and therefore their EAL pupils) missing out on funding.

So what does ‘first language other than English’ mean? Is it the same as ‘EAL’?

Before I answer the first question, I’ll answer the second – yes, it is. And the more we discuss and explore the definition of ‘EAL’ in schools, the better, as it’s important we have a shared understanding of it in order to develop an asset-based approach to EAL pedagogy.

As stated in the DfE English proficiency ad-hoc notice (Feb 2020):

‘Information on a pupil’s first language is collected in the school census. A pupil is recorded as having English as an additional language if she/he is exposed to a language at home that is known or believed to be other than English. It is not a measure of English language proficiency or a good proxy for recent immigration.’

That last sentence is important – ‘EAL’ does not indicate fluency and it does include those pupils who may have arrived some time ago or who were born in the UK. 

It’s also worth noting that if there is more than one language spoken in the home – which includes English – the DfE requests that the language other than English is recorded.

Why might this be a positive thing? Well, if only English is recorded, then the additional language (and the additional cultural richness and sense of identity associated with it) may not be acknowledged, valued and utilised in school for wellbeing and academic success.

How can I find out more about EAL funding?

Our Better Bilingual Guidance on EAL funding for schools 2022-23 gives further information about this topic and we recommend that you talk to your governing body and local authority to find out more about how this funding is allocated (and monitored) locally.

How can schools use this EAL funding to promote DEI in relation to multilingualism?

Every single pupil learning through EAL is different and every school has their own EAL context. At Better Bilingual,  we recommend funding decisions are made after the SLT:

  • looks closely at their pupil population, ensuring that first language data is accurate
  • analyses which particular individuals or groups are doing well (or not so well) 
  • reflects on the strengths of (and needs re) current whole school EAL provision.

Whether the need is for initial pupil assessments, a New Arrivals Policy or CPD on EAL assessment, potential EAL funding accessed through the October Census could be vital in eliminating discrimination and promoting high attainment for ALL our EAL pupils.

Flour on my Face

Siya Twani portrait

Written by Siya Twani

I am a Motivational Speaker who speaks in schools and businesses, on Diversity, Equality & Inclusion, Resilience and Mental toughness.

My name is Siya and I speak in schools and businesses across the country and internationally. Like Nelson Mandela I am a man who stuck my neck out like a giraffe and spoke up against the Apartheid regime. This resulted in me being arrested, tortured, and put in prison for four years. I have a lived experience of facing, the odds, and reinvented myself by defying the regime in letting my voice be heard and recognised as co-equal. The struggle for belonging has been my life long struggle. I went to prison because I wanted to create a South Africa and a world where all of us as human beings can experience the joy of belonging, not just some but ALL OF US TOGETHER.

Our children are dual heritage. My children have struggled with belonging and acceptance or not being accepted for who you are.  

My youngest son is Sipho. When he was about nine years old, Sipho and Megan were friends at primary school and one Friday after school Sipho went to play with Megan at her house. On collecting Sipho I noticed that he was covered in white powder, before I could enquire Megan said, ‘Look Siya I made Sipho white like me.’  I said, ‘That is so lovely Megan’, as she was just an innocent child, wanting a friend to look like her. All Megan’s dolls were white and so thought because all her world is white therefore Sipho as friend needed to be white. It was an innocent gesture and attempt of acceptance and inclusion. She wanted Sipho not to feel different.  

Now fast forward to when we moved from Essex to Edinburgh.  Now in Edinburgh one beautiful summer’s day,  I decided to take my three beautiful children to a park to play on the swings at a local park. As we entered through the gate, myself and my children were subjected to racial abuse, called monkeys and told to get out of her you are dirty, you brown people. They taunted my children. They went on to say, ’You are not welcome here’, and my children broke down in tears. I approached these ignorant white kids who were never exposed to a people of different colour or background. They all ran out of the park. Three of the older teens came back to the park to apologise. I then took that opportunity to educate these young people and expand their horizons. I asked them, can you imagine what it must feel like being spat at, called names, being bullied all because I was different? Can you imagine the power of your words, attitudes, and behaviours towards my children? I went to ask them. One day how would they feel if their own children were subjected to racial trauma and abuse.   They were stunned and all they did they kept apologising and their apology was accepted as I said to them. it takes a strong person to apologise for their mistakes. 

I wish I could say that was the last time that my three little children were subjected to racial trauma and abuse. That incident is stuck in their minds as they often reminisce about it and how big daddy protected then form those empty-headed idiots.

In writing this blog I do not want you anyone of you as readers the impression that either myself or my children had persecution complex. It was our daily bread” our daily experience of being a dual heritage family in predominantly white village just outside of Edinburgh, called Black Hall and by the very nature of the demographics was predominantly white. 

My daughter who was then 10 and my son who was then 8 were the only dual heritage children in the whole school. Again, the demon of racism that taunted me growing up in South Africa was now tormenting and terrorising my children and impacting on their mental health and wellbeing. I remember my daughter having cultural and racial identity crisis. One day she locked herself in the bathroom bleached herself because she wanted to be white like all the other kids in the school. She took the scissors and cut her hair off because it was not blond like her mums and the kids in the school. These two stories of my children’s lived experience and their struggle of belonging or not belonging is a real one to this very day. When people see my children, they don’t see white people first they say black children because they are not “pure white” like everybody else around them.

To this day my children live with this creative tension that, for white people they will never be white enough and for black people they will never be black enough. They are in no man’s land. I went to prison in South Africa so my children and my grandchildren could experience the joy of belonging and not have to go through what I went through because of racially divided South Africa.  Not so long ago in this country there were signs in the 60s saying, No blacks, no Irish, no gay, no Jews and no dogs.

It was Dr Martin Luther King in his famous speech ‘I have a dream’…….  who said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.”  The question I ask myself is …why should they be judged in the first place whether they are black, white gay or not gay, trans or not, short, or tall?

The incident I related above of those young people in the park. They did not realise the impact of their words, attitudes, behaviour and the racial trauma my children suffered as the result of their ignorance. Because really, racism is a child of ignorance.  They did not know how it would make my children feel for the rest of their lives. ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ those words cut deep into the psyche of my children, and profoundly affected their mental health, wellbeing and sense of belonging.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou

My passion is to educate, empower and expand young people’s horizons about Diversity & Inclusion That is why I speak in schools and delivery inclusion and diversity workshops and promoting mutual respect. Celebrating diversity and not seeing diversity as a threat but as a strength that unites all human beings. Because there’s only one Race …The human Race.  

In my culture we do not have the concept of stranger danger. Every is potential friend or a friend you haven’t met yet. The word for community in Zulu is Umphakathi meaning we are together on the inside. No one is excluded or marginalised, picked on, we all experience the sense of belonging to one another. 

In the stage play and movie HIGH SCHOOL Musical : After Gabriella and Troy successfully perform their song (“Breaking Free”), Ms. Darbus gives them the lead roles, making Sharpay and Ryan understudies. Both teams win their respective competitions, and the entire school gathers in the gym to celebrate (“We’re All In This Together”). Chad asks Taylor out, and Sharpay makes peace with Gabriella. We need to be curious, embrace, celebrate diversity and respect differences and not see differences as threat but as a strength. 

This is what drives me into schools because as Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon with which we can change the world”.

As a passionate, engaging educator I have moral obligation to educate, empower and enthuse young people to make this world a better place to live in.

Instead of putting flour on my face… let’s put flowers in each child’s life so they can thrive.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela

Education organisations outline new commitments for action on equality, diversity and inclusion in education

NAHT logo

Written by NAHT

NAHT is the UK’s largest professional association for school leaders, representing more than 33,000 head teachers, executive heads, CEOs, deputy and assistant heads, vice principals and school business leaders.

Organisations working in the education sector have outlined new commitments for action demonstrating how they will play their part in improving diversity and representation within the education profession.

A ‘statement of action’ signed by fifteen key sector bodies and National Associations outlines the collective and individual commitments to help improve diversity in the profession. The statement of action states that “by being clear and transparent about our actions, we can give confidence to pupils, families, staff, governors and leaders that we are learning, listening and acting on their concerns and ambitions for equality, diversity and inclusion.”

The organisations have also called for more support from government in achieving these aims, saying:

“Discrimination and inequality continue to exist, and our organisations want to play a role in actively addressing this within the educational sector. It matters for the health, well-being and futures of our members, their staff and the pupils and communities that they serve.

“But while a sector-wide approach is essential if we are to see true progress in this area, this really must be matched by effective support from Government. If the Department for Education is serious about improving recruitment and retention of educational professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds, then it is vital that this is embedded across all facets of its work and is backed by appropriate funding.

“We call on the new Secretary of State for Education to make equality, diversity and inclusion one of his top priorities – and outline the Department’s own commitments towards improving diversity in the profession.”

The organisations that are signatories to this statement are:

You can find out more here.

The Supermarket Of The DEI Quick Fix

Audrey Pantelis portrait

Written by Audrey Pantelis

Audrey Pantelis is an associate coach, consultant and trainer. She is a former Headteacher of a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities school and a current Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultant and leadership coach.

“Ok… can you remove your items from your basket and place them onto the conveyor belt please? Thank you…

*Beeping of the item being scanned*

DEI policy/Racial Equity statement following the death of George Floyd in 2020 – check; 

*Beeping of the item being scanned*

External DEI/Race equality audit commission – check; 

*Beeping of the item being scanned*

External DEI consultants commissioned – check;

*Beeping of the item being scanned*

Staff training sessions booked with the solutions to key DEI/Race issues in two sessions or less – check…”

If you are a Trust leader or school leader – this may be a little bit (or a lot) tricky to read. 

Some schools and organisations are missing the point with regards to their understanding of how to dismantle and rebuild positive and meaningful DEI strategies. They are expecting miraculous results from minimal input – a bit like expecting to lose weight because you have a pair of trainers and a tracksuit in your wardrobe, but you NEVER WEAR THEM TO DO ANY EXERCISE

Thankfully this is not universal, but this thinking is out there. 

The idea that one person/one training or awareness session is going to address the issues that your external audit has discovered is unrealistic. Like an onion, there will be many layers that will need to be stripped back. 

This is where it gets hard. 

This is where the real work begins. 

Begins – not concludes. 

No stops, or “if I read this, or just do this one thing, it will be fine.”

If you make the courageous decision to start your analysis of how DEI is showing up in your school or organisation, be ready to bypass the supermarket. 

There are no quick fixes that you can pick up. 

No shortcuts. 

The work has to be done in real time because this is real life. But it must be sustained by a commitment from the entire community that the work will be done. By everyone. 

Quick fixes are temporary and won’t give you the results that are meaningful. That is, of course, if you want meaningful results. Avoid the supermarket. There’s nothing there that will help you.

Tackling unconscious bias within UK schools

Sonia Elmer-Soman portrait

Written by Sonia Elmer-Soman

Sonia Elmer-Soman has a background in both law and education. She is a qualified law lecturer and has many years’ experience working as a legal practitioner in two prestigious law firms in the City and now within a reputable law firm local to her home town in Essex. She is also a qualified primary school teacher and is a guest writer for professional journals.

This blog was written for the National Association of Primary Education (‘NAPE’) and Primary First.

What is Unconscious Bias?

If statistics are to be believed, the Gov.uk paper on School teacher Workforce – Ethnicity Facts and Figures (2019) revealed that 85.7% of all teachers in state funded schools in England were white British. 3.8% of teachers were from the White Other ethnic group, the second highest percentage after the white British group and 92.7% of head teachers were white British whilst only 65.4% of pupils are from a white British background.

Whether we like it or not, we all exhibit unconscious bias in some way whether deciding which friend to honour a dinner date with when we’ve double-booked or making application shortlists that reflect our own cultural experiences.  Unconscious bias is about patterns of behaviour that affect our everyday decision making and which are influenced by shared background, culture, and personal experiences. 

Surely it is time to address the implications of unconscious bias within UK state schools? Of interest is how biases drive high turnover and high attrition among black Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) teachers, in a system where BAME pupils do not see themselves represented in the ‘school community’ and the ‘school community’ does not reflect how wider society or ‘Global Britain’ looks today. 

Experiences of BAME teachers

  • Tereshchenko, Mills and Bradbury (2020) shows us that the proportion of students and teachers from minority ethnic groups is disparate, meaning that BAME students and teachers may not see teaching as a viable option without role models to inspire. Research participants stated that they regularly experienced:
  • being ‘passed over’ in senior promotions and hitting a glass ceiling which may not have been obvious at the outset. ‘I look at the people at my school that have been promoted or given opportunities to learn and they’re all white British’;
  • a ‘culture of toxicity which took the form of micro-aggressions, covert bias and injustices’. ‘It matters what the culture of the school is, how they view ethnic minorities and if one walks around a school on interview and they don’t see diversity reflected in the pupils or staff’, then they would be ‘more likely to opt for a school which had encouraged and supported this’;
  • a revolving door resulting in BAME teachers having to move to more diverse and disadvantaged/SEN schools in London in order to advance their careers;
  • feeling that ‘wider social inequalities are mirrored and reproduced in school power hierarchies which underpin and drive BAME teachers’ unequal career progression’.  

Examples of Unconscious Bias

However, it is not just in education where we see unconscious bias being played out. Channel 4’s Hollyoaks aired a powerful episode on the subject.

In one scene, Martine, a black woman, attends a cancer diagnostic appointment and is first to arrive at the surgery. Tara, a white British woman, arrives after Martine for the very same reason. The receptionist informs the two women that the appointment has been double booked and that only one of them can see the Doctor that day. Tara begins to cry. Martine awaits the decision in silence. The receptionist chooses Tara and tells Martine ‘Tara is clearly upset’ and ‘Have some sympathy’.

It is not unusual for NHS staff to have to make these decisions against the backdrop of a system which is overwhelmed and underfunded. However, Statistics show black women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer due to systematic racism and misinformation  (Morris, 2021). When Martine questions the receptionist, she is told to ‘ take a step back and stop being aggressive’. The writers skilfully make the point that the word ‘aggressive’ like intimidating are so often used against black people and people of colour who have ever dared to stand up for themselves. Seconds later, Martine tries to explain that ‘I have a lump too. I am terrified too’, but the scene ends with Martine standing outside in the cold whilst the two women make their way inside the surgery.

This will not have been the only problematic person or challenging situation Martine will have faced that day. For instance, where could she be in her job she wonders, if ‘it weren’t for so many barriers’. ‘The micro-aggressions are so subtle and covert it is hard to prove’. There is a sense throughout the episode that Martine must be’ strong’ and toughen up. Any injustice she feels must be borne with unflinching humility.

Parm Sandhu was the most senior Asian woman in the Metropolitan Police Force and the only non-white female to have been promoted to Chief Superintendent in the history of the Force. Her book entitled ‘Black and Blue – One Woman’s Story of policing and prejudice’ she tells of a challenging thirty year rise through the ranks of the Force where she faced racial and gender discrimination and spurious claims of misconduct after whistleblowing.

In her nail-biting account, Sandhu observes how persons of colour get the jobs and perform as well as, if not better in some cases than, their white British counterparts, but when they come to knock on that door for promotion or to raise a concern, the path is fraught with complexity and struggle and the rules are very different depending on who knocks. 

So, could unconscious bias have played a part in the situation with Megan Markle?  In her infamous interview with Oprah Winfrey, Megan spoke of the need to avoid polarising people and she found it hard being blamed for something ‘not only that I didn’t do’, but ‘that actually happened to me’. Megan’s quote ‘If you love me, you don’t need to hate her [Kate] and if you love her, you don’t need to hate me’ is the money sentence and will likely resonate. Megan felt she was often compared to Kate, with Kate usually coming off better because when one is faced with fewer battles to fight, they can concentrate on the battles worth fighting. One is far less likely to miss-step when not constantly on a back-foot. 

What can Senior Leadership Teams and Ofsted do to improve recruitment and retention of BAME staff?

    1. Diversification of the workforce only occurs if there is an ambition and an appetite to make it happen.
    2. Look around your school. How many teachers or teaching assistants of colour do you see? Who sits on your leadership team and at the table of the Board of Governors? 
    3. When advertising for teachers, try to advertise in two different demographics and avoid language as ‘will suit someone from the local area’, but rather you could advertise in such a way as to actively source and welcome applicants from the BAME community. 
    4. Consider whether opportunities for training are open to persons of colour. What does that training look like? 
    5. Is there a pattern as to whom you choose for advancement.  As one of the participants in the earlier research paper commented ‘First level the playing field and then let’s talk about merit’. 
    6. Move out of your comfort zone. Spend time with people from different cultures and backgrounds and see things from a different perspective. Less diversity means conformity of thought and exclusion.
    7. Ofsted could revise their reports avoiding language relating to demographic as being eg ‘mostly white British with lower than average children with EAL, a statement of need or pupil premium’ and they could also score schools according to if they have made some attempt to recruit and retain BAME staff.
    8. Provide opportunities to raise concerns with a diverse team. Use Gary Klein’s “premortem”. Imagine a decision or conflict leads to disaster and detail how it might have happened. Thus, search for overlooked problems.
    9. Be comfortable talking about matters involving race. Avoid language as ‘She is more English than us’ or ‘I don’t see colour’ as this only serves to invalidate a person’s background. 
    10. Think about what social media platforms you share with your staff. Can you remain objective and professional if Facebook (staff) friends are commenting on every aspect of your personal life. 


Schools roll out PREVENT training to staff, but do we really understand that those young people influenced into radicalisation are those who are in search of belonging and identity. However, we ‘prevent’ a sense of belonging when our institutions are not geared up to providing role models as part of a pupil’s lived daily reality. We are very good at teaching pupils about tolerance, equality and diversity, but we don’t show them what that looks like within the school environment. 

In the wake of the George Floyd Killing, there was much emphasis on social media about ‘learning from it’ and ‘moving on’. Prima facie, this is an ideal but, in reality, how do you ‘learn’ and ‘move on’ if those uncomfortable conversations about colonialism, slavery and trade are not discussed in any meaningful way? This can leave young, vulnerable people grieving and in a situation which is inexplicable to them.

When we only look to recruit and retain those who conform to our own set of values and perspectives, we risk losing skills within the profession but also, we can inadvertently develop some negative and harmful cultures out of complacency, which can threaten the integrity of structural practices. If leaders only create other leaders in the image of themselves with replicas of models that already exist, what real steps have we taken to progress diversity and integration?

Senior Leadership Teams have a key role to play in making diversification of the workforce happen and in shaping the culture, vision and ethos of the school (see Benjamin Aishnine, who is Head of Equality, Inclusion and Culture at the British Medical Association and Racial Literacy at Integrity coaching). 


Aishnine, B. (2021) Aishnine. [Online] Available at: https://www.aishnine.com/ 

HM Government (2019) School teacher workforce. [Online]. Available at: https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/workforce-and-business/workforce-diversity/school-teacher-workforce/latest 

Integrity Coaching (2022) Coaching & Leadership Development. [Online]. Available at: https://www.integritycoaching.co.uk/ 

Morris, N. (2021) ‘We are not listened to’: Why Black women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with late-stage cancer’, 27 April, Metro [Online]. Available at: https://metro.co.uk/2021/04/27/black-women-are-twice-as-likely-to-be-diagnosed-with-late-stage-cancer-14475521/ 

Sandhu, P. (2021) Black and Blue: One Woman’s Story of Policing and Prejudice. Atlantic books.

Tereshchenko, A; Mills, M; Bradbury, A; (2020) Making progress? Employment and retention of BAME teachers in England. UCL Institute of Education: London, UK