Equality Act: The 10th protected characteristic?

Matt Bromley portrait

Written by Matt Bromley

Matt Bromley is an education journalist, author, and advisor with twenty five years’ experience in teaching and leadership including as a secondary school headteacher and academy principal, further education college vice principal, and multi-academy trust director. Matt is a public speaker, trainer, initial teacher training lecturer, and school improvement advisor. He remains a practising teacher, currently working in secondary, FE and HE settings. Matt writes for various magazines, is the author of numerous best-selling books on education, and co-hosts an award-winning podcast.

This is an abridged version of an article that first appeared on the SecEd website on 13 November 2023. To read the full version, click here

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for schools to discriminate against, harass or victimise a pupil or potential pupil in relation to admissions, in the way they provide education or access to any benefit, facility or service because of their:

  • Sex
  • Race
  • Disability
  • Religion or belief
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender reassignment
  • Pregnancy or maternity

These seven identifiers are called “protected characteristics”. There are nine in total, with “age” and “marriage and civil partnership” completing the list.

I don’t think the law goes far enough. I think there should be a 10th protected characteristic: social class. After all, class plays an important role in education and in later life…

Classism in education leads to underachievement and under-representation. Working-class students are among the lowest performers in our schools. If you’re a high-ability student from a low social class, you won’t do as well in school and in later life as a low-ability student from a high social class. It is social class and wealth – not ability – that define a pupil’s educational outcomes and their life chances.

Working-class people are also less likely to have a degree, work in professional employment, or be an academic compared to those from more elite backgrounds.

There are three problems with classism in schools: 

  1. Curriculum design

 The stated aim of the national curriculum is to ensure that all students in England encounter the same content and material to provide “an introduction to the essential knowledge that they need to be educated citizens”. There are two problems…

First, curriculum coverage – one size doesn’t fit all. Providing all students with the same curriculum further disadvantages those who are already disadvantaged.

We must deliver the same ambitious curriculum to every pupil. But we should offer more, not less – but, crucially, not the same – to working-class students. This may mean additional opportunities for those whose starting points are lower or for whom opportunities are more limited.

Second, curriculum content – definitions of core knowledge are classist. Selection of knowledge is made by those of a higher social standing rather than by a representative group of people from across the social strata.

Cultural capital is described as “the best that has been thought and said”, but who decides what constitutes the best? Ultimately, every school’s curriculum should celebrate working-class culture alongside culture from the dominant classes.

Also, we know that working-class students tend to be denied the experiences their middle-class peers are afforded, such as books at home, visiting museums and galleries, taking part in educational trips, foreign holidays and so on.

  1. Curriculum assessment

Our current assessment system could be regarded as classist. Let’s consider three elements:

  • Home advantage: Those who don’t have a home life that is conducive to independent study are placed at a disadvantage, which is compounded for those who don’t have parents with the capacity to support them – whether in terms of time, ability, or buying resources.
  • Content of exams: Exams tend to have a middle-class bias, such as requiring students to have personal experience of foreign travel or theatre visits.
  • Exam outcomes: The assessment system is designed to fail a third of students every year – and it is the working classes who the suffer most. This is because the spread of GCSE grades is pegged to what cohorts of similar ability achieved in the past. Young people who fall below this bar pay a high price in terms of reduced prospects.
  1. The hidden curriculum 

All schools have a hidden curriculum. It exists in a school’s rules and routines; in its behaviour policies, rewards, and sanctions; in its physical, social, and learning environments; and in the way all the adults who work in the school interact with each other and with the students. How sure can we be that our hidden curriculum does not discriminate against our working-class students?

Class a protected characteristic 

If social class became the 10th protected characteristic, then schools would be required to:

  • Remove or minimise disadvantages suffered by working-class pupils.
  • Take steps to meet the particular needs of working-class pupils.
  • Encourage working-class pupils to participate fully in a full range of school societies.

You can find out more about supporting working-class pupils in The Working Classroom, which has been written by Matt Bromley and Andy Griffith and is published by Crown House. For information and to access free resources, visit www.theworkingclassroom.co.uk

How we can make archaeology more inclusive

Raksha Dave portrait

Written by Raksha Dave

Raksha Dave is an archaeologist, broadcaster and president of the Council for British Archaeology, within which also sits the Young Archaeologists Club. Raksha also works with arts organisations to help them find ways to encourage diversity and inclusivity in their environments.

When people ask me about how we can make archaeology more welcoming and inclusive, I often think about my four-year-old self. I was obsessed with dinosaurs and begged my mum to buy me a book about them. It opened my eyes to a new world. I still have the book. I found a world that I obsessively wanted to discover and felt as much right as any child to do so.  

My teachers encouraged and supported my passion, fueling my interest through their teaching. No one ever doubted I could be an archaeologist. No one ever said that this was a profession where, even as recently as in 2020, 97 per cent are white

The next generation of brilliant archaeologists aren’t teenagers, they’re children. We need to engage them in the subject, but we’re failing. The profession needs to do better at communicating that archaeology isn’t just about ditches and digging if it’s to widen its appeal.

Archaeology is about the remains people leave behind whether that was an hour ago or 3,000 years ago. When any child opens their door, they are immersed in an archaeological environment: old signs on the sides of buildings; windows bricked up; changes in the architecture and age of buildings; and old boundary markers. There is so much to discover just on our doorsteps which can shed light on the past.

Excavation can mean researching an old camper van, recording the objects left at a refugee camp in Calais, or researching a World War Two encampment. Archaeologists are even researching the remains of contemporary music festivals which can help us understand more about people who lived – and feasted in the past; like our prehistoric ancestors at Durrington Walls, near Stonehenge, more than 4,500 years ago. 

Archaeology is also about rethinking our past. I’ve just been working with BBC Teach on a new Live Lesson for primary schools about the Romans. Filmed on location at Vindolanda Fort, on Hadrian’s Wall, it’s about discovering who might have been living at the Roman fort. We think of forts as simply military settlements to defend and protect, but that wasn’t true in Roman times. Forts were actually attached to large settlements with people from all walks of life. The military would bring their families, and lots of traders would be attracted to the settlement to sell crafts, food or offer services. 

The Live Lesson sets children a mystery to find out why objects like a toy wooden sword and a luxury Roman shoe have been found at the site (you’ll have to watch the programme to find the answer). I hope it encourages children across the country to become more curious about the past and helps them to relate to the people who lived at Vindolanda. Seeing ourselves in the past, being able to discover and experience people’s lives through relatable objects like shoes, toys, hair clips and jewellery enables children to make a direct connection to their own lives. 

As well as seeing ourselves in the past, archaeology also needs to shrug off its dusty academic image. It is a multi-disciplinary subject which spans the humanities and sciences. It really is accessible to young people through apprenticeships as much as through degrees.

Almost all of archaeology in the UK is undertaken by commercial organisations. Their focus is on planning and building infrastructure. From new houses to railways, archaeologists work alongside civil engineers and planners to help these projects come to fruition. More than 200 archaeologists worked on the Crossrail project, discovering tens of thousands of artefacts of significant importance. 

Any child should feel that archaeology is a profession, or an interest they can nurture, where they can feel they belong. Demystifying the topic, helping them understand it can happen on their doorstep, and showing how very diverse our past is, can help children to see themselves in archaeology and feel curious to know more.

The Romans – History Live Lesson is available to watch on BBC Teach. For more information and teaching resources, please visit: https://bbc.in/3tx4uWx

‘What Got Us Here Won’t Get Us There...’

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.

We are, without a doubt, going through some tumultuous changes right now.

It’s a challenge not to be impacted by the troubles that surround us, and I do find it interesting that there is so much backlash regarding the lack of commenting on the Israeli-Hamas conflict by diversity, equity, and inclusion leads.

Do we HAVE to speak on everything?

The conflict is especially complex, and I find it interesting that it has a long historical narrative.  Naturally, what is happening right now is horrific and deserves our voices to decry, denounce and condemn all those who are causing the horrendous losses of life.  That is not in dispute.  However, these same voices have been silent during the past ten/twenty years – or did I miss something?

This idea of difference and the subsequent displacement is something that I can resonate with – and while the conflict is not just about race and religion – there is a similarity with the concept of superiority and inferiority that is echoed when considering the definition of racism.  As I have said, this is not about racism.  

I don’t know how many of you have watched ‘This Is Us’ (2016-2022).  It is an American TV series that follows the lives and families of two parents and their three children born on the same day as their father’s birthday.   It tells of the trials and tribulations of triplets – Kevin and Kate are the biological children – of parents Jack and Rebecca – and Randall is adopted by Jack and Rebecca following the death of the third biological triplet.  Randall is Afro-American and was ‘left’ at the fire station – a fireman takes Randall to the hospital and Jack speaks to the fireman following the death of the third triplet and adopts Randall.  During Season 5, the episode entitled ‘Brotherly Love’ shows characters Randall and Kevin having a deep and healing conversation that addresses their upbringing and the way that they perceive one another.  The discussion confronted issues around race and their family dynamic, specifically Randall’s experience of being a black child adopted by a white family and the microaggressions he faced.

It was a fascinating watch – most notably because Kevin admits that he has been actively racist in his sibling rivalry – he connects Randall’s blackness to the way he was treated within the family and then tries to take him down a peg or two because of it.  I was moved by it because of the admission by Kevin and how it resonated with my own lived experiences.  Randall was always made to feel that he should be ‘grateful’ for being found and taken in by a white family.  The parallels between my understanding and Randall’s understanding of whiteness aren’t that different:  wanting to be part of the majority when you are the minority; attempting to ‘blend in’ using language, accent, and behaviours; ensuring that you are no ‘different’ than anyone else through an understanding that merit gets you where you aspire to be.  Emotionally detached and focusing on what can be ‘seen’ rather than ‘felt’.  However, the idea of ‘whiteness’s superior identity to blackness’s inferior one’ is not enough for Kevin’s character and his need to try and ‘take him down a peg or two’ appears to be predicated on fear.  Fear that Randall just might be better than Kevin.  Randall plays into this – he is a high achiever, and he aspires and achieves success.  Would he have done this if he had been raised in his own biological family?  This we do not know, but we do know that Randall is living his life as best as he can – but he still feels ‘othered’ and not ‘enough’ despite his achievements.

Back to the title.

The history books tell us how one-sided life has been for those who are considered ‘other’, and it feels as if we are now at that reckoning.  

By continuing as we were doesn’t cut it in the world – different times.

When George Floyd was murdered in 2020, the world watched, horrified and stunned at seeing what had been happening in plain sight.  Maybe it’s a modern characteristic that we now seem to have ringside seats to horrific and heinous crimes, but with this opportunity, we need to be change-makers – not from our keyboards and phones but from our platforms, our places of work, wherever we have influence.  Consistently chipping away at the rock will disintegrate the mountain.  

But it’s difficult.


Because we cannot control everyone’s attitudes or actions and approaches to everything.  However, polarisation appears to be king – you are either FOR something or AGAINST something, and nuance is not brought into the narrative because it doesn’t fit the ‘for or against’ stance.  Equally – having a strong conviction about right and wrong is not to be condemned either – but we do need to listen to and be able to understand viewpoints that differ from our own, even if we don’t agree with them.

The hierarchical, colonial, and restrictive structures of the past no longer serve us – the old rules are now proving to be obsolete and hanging on to them scares the heebie-jeebies out of most of us – change can be considered to be fearful.  However, what I believe is more fearful is the desire NOT to change, adapt, or try to do things differently.  

We can aim to do what we can, with intention and with integrity; and with the idea that the next generation brings their energy and innovation to understanding old and entrenched viewpoints.  We need new eyes on old situations.  As educators, we are responsible for ensuring that nuance is part of how we think about things and how we can apply it.

Attainment, Wellbeing and Recruitment

Miriam Hussain portrait

Written by Miriam Hussain

Miriam Hussain is a Director and Teacher of English within a Trust in the West Midlands. She has held a range of roles within education such as: Assistant Headteacher and Chair of Governors. She is also a Curriculum Associate and Ambassador for Teach First. Miriam is a Regional Lead for Litdrive, a charity and Subject Association for English teachers. She is also studying a Masters at the University of Oxford. Her twitter is @MiriamHussain_

The recent report from Sutton Trust (linked below) on the 19th of October 2023 stated that the attainment gap between disadvantage pupils and their peers had widened. This was massively concerning not only to me but a number of other school leaders across the country. The gap is now at its highest level since 2011, removing any progress made in the last decade. A gut-wrenching statistic. There are a lot of reasons for this, you only need to log on to Twitter (X) and see the quote tweets and replies to see people responding and citing the following: the government, economic and political inequality, social care and poverty.  When I read the report however the first thing that cropped up into mind was recruitment. Having spent my career in working in schools in severe low socioeconomic deprivation but also disadvantage it made me think about the immense challenges for our young people today. The long list of barriers to social mobility for thousands of students alongside how would the best teachers be attracted to schools in these pressure cooker environments.

The Guardian in 2023 stated that almost a third of teachers who qualified in the last decade have since left the profession. This coupled with the growing attainment gap is a disaster. The article (linked below) went on to state that 13% of teachers in England that qualified in 2019 then resigned within two years resulting in 3000 teachers leaving the profession. They cited being overworked, stressed and not feeling value as the reasons. Ultimately, why work in education if you can get the same amount of money elsewhere or more, for less stress and work. How can we make teaching more attractive so that future talent doesn’t leave or quit. Ultimately, it will be these teachers who close the attainment gap so what do leaders within schools need to do to provide the conditions for teachers to stay;

  1. A wellbeing policy. Kat Howard in her blog (linked below) on Workload Perception states that wellbeing policies should be an explicit obligation to recognise the importance of taking care of staff. It is not a pizza party or copious amounts of high sugar foods on an evening where staff are expected to work late but instead a series of initiatives which support staff and elevate pressures throughout the year such as; giving time back to staff in the form of PPA at home, Golden tickets for staff where they can have a day for themselves via a raffle or specific initiatives through the year eg parents evenings, inviting people into meetings that only need to be there rather than everyone, having an email embargo of when emails can and can’t be sent. These are all important and need to be considered. Alongside, this its also having transparent conversations to support members of staff with flexible working with an ever-changing work force in addition to growing childcare commitments. These different viewpoints of work are critical. What I really enjoyed about Kat’s blog is that first and foremost having a wellbeing policy is ensuring that wellbeing is a reoccurring agenda item rather than a tick box activity. It forces the dialogue and critical conversations to change the face of education. It is providing policy led support for all stakeholders in education. 
  2. Improve retention of staff via CPD. Leaders of schools need to be intentional with the CPD offer within their school or trust. How is the Professional Development meeting staff needs but more importantly developing them? What NPQs are staff being offered alongside leadership pathways within the trust or school? What does the next set of Middle or Senior Leadership look and feel like? Ultimately what is the offer you are giving to have the very best teachers working with your schools and trust to address the attainment gap?
  3. Schools have to offer a safe environment with a clear behaviour policy. If we want high calibre staff to teach in deprived areas leaders need to ensure that their staff are safe, SLT are visible and clear routines are being implemented. It is critical to ensure no learning time is lost as well as providing the right conditions within classrooms to address educational disadvantage. From my own experience an effective behaviour policy is the bedrock of any school. Students within these communities need consistent practices more than anything else. Clear procedures, habits and processes supports staff moral massively. The behaviour policy needs to be established and revisited daily.
  4. A good example of getting it right with a plethora of examples and research is of course Joe Kirby’s blog (linked below); Hornets, Slugs, Bees and Butterflies: not to do lists and the workload relief revolution. Critically it asks and answers how school leaders can support teachers and staff within education. There are many layers within the blog that I could delve into but what stood out to me was the Hornet section – High Effort, Low – impact initiatives within schools. Several Trusts implement these strategies on a daily basis, Pupil Progress meetings, Pointless Paperwork, Seating plans with data. They take a lot of time and within those high-pressure environments very little is done with that information afterwards it’s merely meeting a deadline. In the reality of school life, they are ineffective and unproductive. We then have slugs, copying out learning objectives, flight paths and big ideas with no detail. Instead, school cultures should be focused on the high impact strategies some of them described in the Kirby’s blog as; quizzes, booklets and sharing resources. Just because something has always been done does not mean that is how it always needs to me. With the recruitment crisis we are in we need to be thinking how we make schools flourishing institutions with systems that allow staff to do so. 

I do believe these are within our control as leaders we need to be able to provide the right conditions and systems for our teachers, staff and individuals. Kat ends her blog with stating that in order to ‘improve conditions for all staff if time is taken’. Time being used to listen to what each stakeholder has to say and then making the necessary changes to have a positive and purposeful impact. Conversations should be seen as the framework that drives not only attainment, wellbeing and recruitment forward but all facets of school procedures. As Joe Kirby put it, less time on the Slugs and Hornets and more time on the Butterflies. Let’s stop wasting time in education.


Hornets, Slugs, Bees and Butterflies: not-to-do lists and the workload relief revolution | Joe Kirby (joe-kirby.com) 


Sutton Trust comment on Key Stage 4 performance data – Sutton Trust 

Workload | Perception – Kat Howard (wordpress.com) 

Section 28: 20 Years On

Hannah Wilson portrait

Written by Hannah Wilson

Founder of Diverse Educators

Yesterday marked 20 years since Section 28 was repealed whilst also celebrating Trans Awareness Week. There is a brilliant thread on X here breaking down the key information all educators should know about this piece of problematic legislation which weaponised an identity group.

20 years ago, I had joined the teaching profession as a NQT at a boys’ school in Kent.

Homophobia was an issue.

I cannot remember having any training on my PGCE or in my NQT year about prejudice-based behaviour.

I cannot remember Section 28 being mentioned in either training programmes either.

After a year, I moved to London for a Head of Year role at a boys’ school in Surrey.

Homophobia was an issue.

But I felt more empowered to tackle it and I delivered the ‘Some People Are Gay – Get Over It! assemblies from Stonewall.

After three years, I then moved to a co-ed school in Mitcham.

Homophobia was an issue.

But we had strong whole school behaviour systems and consistent accountability so we tried to keep on top of it.

I also leveraged my pastoral and my curriculum leadership responsibilities to educate and to challenge the attitudes of our students.

After six years, I moved to a co-ed school in Morden as a Senior Leader (still in the same trust).

Homophobia was an issue.

But we had zero tolerance to discrimination and robust behaviour systems in place so we chipped away at it.

Three years later I relocated to Oxfordshire to be a Headteacher of a secondary school and Executive Headteacher of a primary school.

Homophobia was an issue.

But as a Headteacher with a committed SLT and visible role models, we hit it head on.

One of my favourite assembly moments in my twenty years in education was Bennie’s coming out assembly at our school. The courage and vulnerability she embodied as she shared the personal impact of the harmful attitudes, language and behaviour humanised the problem. We braced ourselves for the fallout, for the criticisms, but she was instead enveloped with love and respect by our community instead.

20 years on… six schools later…

Thousands of students… thousands of staff… thousands of parents and carers…

Homophobia was an issue – in every context, in every community, to a lesser or greater extent we have had to tackle prejudice and discrimination directed explicitly at the LGBTQ+ community.

Since leaving headship I have run a PGCE, consulted for national organisations, trained staff in schools, colleges and trusts (in the UK and internationally), coached senior leaders.

I am not a LGBTQ+ trainer – we have experts with lived experience who train on that. I speak about DEI strategy, inclusive cultures, inclusive language, inclusive behaviours and belonging. Yet, in every training session the experience of the LGBQT+ community comes up. It comes up especially with educators who started their careers in schools pre-2003 who talk about the shadow it has cast over them. It comes up with those starting their careers in schools asking when at interview you can ask if it is okay to be out.

Section 28 may have been repealed, we may be 20 years on, but have we really made any progress when it comes to tackling homophobia in our schools, in our communities and in our society?

Homophobia was and still is an issue.

As a cisgender, heterosexual woman homophobia has not personally impacted me. I have never had to hide my sexuality. I have been able to talk openly about who I am in a relationship with. I have not had to navigate assumptions, bias nor prejudice when it comes to who I date, who I love and who I commit to. This is a privilege I am aware of, but that I have also taken for granted.

A ‘big gay assembly’ may have been one of my professional highlights, but one of my personal low points was going on a night out to a gay club in Brighton in my early thirties, and my gay male friend being beaten up in the toilets in a supposed safe space by a homophobic straight man.

This is the reality for a lot of people I care about. Family, friends and colleagues who do not feel safe in our society. Members of my network who often do not feel safe in our schools.

It is our duty to ensure that our schools, our system and our society are safe for people to just be.

To be themselves… to be accepted… to be out at work (should they wish to be)… to be in love… to be able to talk about their relationships and their families…

It is our duty to ensure that we see progress in the next 20 years – as we are seeing a scary global regression of LGBTQ+ rights.

It is our duty to counter the current rhetoric – especially when it comes from our politicians who are weaponizing the LGBQT+ community.

It is our duty to challenge the haters and the trolls – if we as educators do not tackle it, then who else will?

Our gay students, staff, parents and carers need us to be allies. They need us to stand up, to speak out and to say this is not okay, this is enough.

Some signposting for organisations and resources to support you and your school:


  • Schools Out UK – they run LGBT History month and we collaborate on activities.
  • Educate and Celebrate – they ran our LGBTQ+ training and school award for us.
  • LGBTed – we hosted their launch at our very first #DiverseEd event.
  • No Outsiders – we collaborate with them and celebrate their work.
  • Pride and Progress – we partner with them and support their work.
  • Just Like Us – we collaborate with them and amplify their Inclusion Week.
  • Diversity Role Models – we collaborate with them and amplify their great resources.
  • There are lots of other brilliant organisations and individuals working this space listed in our DEI Directory here.







'Teaching Transgender Awareness Using No Outsiders' - new film resource for schools

Andrew Moffat portrait

Written by Andrew Moffat

Andrew Moffat has been teaching for 25 years and is currently PD Lead at Excelsior MAT. He is the author of “No Outsiders in our school: Teaching the Equality Act in Primary Schools” and “No Outsiders: everyone different, everyone welcome”. In 2017 Andrew was awarded a MBE for services to equality and diversity in education and in 2019 he was listed as a top ten finalist in the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize.

This week is Transgender Awareness Week which is a great opportunity to launch our new film, “Teaching Transgender Awareness using No Outsiders. The film shows that there are trans children in our schools today and many of those schools are doing an excellent job keeping them safe.

The Keeping Children Safe In Education guidance (Gov.UK, 2023) sets out expectations for schools to safeguard LGBT children; 

“Risks can be compounded where children who are LGBT lack a trusted adult with whom they can be open. It is therefore vital that staff endeavour to reduce the additional barriers faced and provide a safe space for them to speak out or share their concerns with members of staff.” (para 204)

Schools in England and Wales are currently waiting for DfE guidance on gender and gender identity. In July 2023, The Times reported that proposed gender guidance had been pulled; 

“A Whitehall source said that No10 and Badenoch had out forward a series of proposals to strengthen the guidance to the attorney general and government lawyers. The strongest – and a reflection of the governments concerns – was a blanket ban on social transitioning.” (Swinford, 2023)

The article quoted a government source saying: 

“More information is needed about the long term implications of allowing a child to live as though they are the opposite gender and the impact that may have on other children too.” (Swinford, 2023)

The aim of this new film from No Outsiders is to show that schools are already working successfully with trans children and their parents. Schools are delivering age-appropriate lessons where children demonstrate knowledge and understanding and are taught about non-judgement, respect and acceptance of others. 

My aim was to make a gentle film to take the heat out of the debate. In the film, we see Sam, a trans man living in Birmingham, return to his primary school to meet his former Y6 teacher. Sam sits in the seat where he sat as an 11 year old, and they discuss how his life has changed since then. His teacher describes how the school has moved on to reflect equality and inclusion today. Sam watches and comments on footage of a No Outsiders lesson at a school in Hertfordshire where transgender awareness is taught, and we hear Year 6 children speak eloquently on the subject. The film shows two parents (one is Sam’s Dad) talking about their experiences bringing up a trans child and the huge support they received from their respective schools. We also see Year 6 children in Bristol discuss texts used in their lessons and respond to the question, “Are you too young to know about this?”

I really wanted to show in this film that parents are working with schools, schools are listening, teachers are working hard to get it right. There is nothing scary or unusual about this. As teachers, we are good at putting the best interests of the children we teach at the heart of our policy and practice. My message to the DfE is, please let us get on with it. Schools want to get this right; we want to work with parents and children to create an environment where every child knows they belong.”

So, what now? What to do with the film? My first thought was to put a link on X (formerly twitter) and the No Outsiders facebook page, but I am aware of the toxic debate around this subject currently and I want to protect all the children and adults in the film. Of course, I realise once it is up on youtube, I lose control of who watches and where it goes, and in the coming months it may well pick up negative responses. but I feel in the first few weeks at least, for the first few views I would like allies to be seeing it. So, I immediately thought of Diverse Educators; a place where educators meet and support each other to make the world a better place. This should be the early audience for the film. Please feel free to share with friends and colleagues, show in staff meetings and use as a stimulus for discussion. I want people to see it.  I hope people find it useful. 

Watch the film here and feel free to share as you wish. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIH7I_SEU0E&t=3s

What is No Outsiders?

The ‘No Outsiders’ programme was created in order to build an ethos of community cohesion and respect for difference. It has had a positive impact on schools, teachers, children, and communities and has received widespread commendation within the education sector. In 2017, CEO Andrew Moffat was awarded an MBE medal by The Queen (UK) for equality and diversity work in education. In 2019 he was a top 10 finalist in the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize: a $1million award for outstanding contributions to the profession.

Teacher training related to the ‘No Outsiders’ programme has had widespread recognition. In the year 2023 January – November, Andrew Moffat has delivered No Outsiders training in 85 schools across the UK, and at numerous conferences and events, teaching over 35,000 children a No Outsiders lesson and training over 11,000 staff.

The No Outsiders guide “No Outsiders: everyone different, everyone welcome” is available here https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=andrew+moffat&crid=3OT7CA7JHVOS2&sprefix=%2Caps%2C308&ref=nb_sb_ss_recent_1_0_recent

A new No Outsiders scheme will be published April 2024.


Erin Skelton portrait

Written by Erin Skelton

Erin is first and foremost an educator and her extensive experience includes a diverse range of roles, encompassing both pastoral and academic leadership positions, across both independent and state education settings. Prior to joining Bright Field, Erin’s most recent role was as Assistant Head and Head of Sixth Form in a top independent girls' school. In this role, she nurtured her students, instilled a sense of purpose and provided invaluable mentoring to prepare them for life as a woman in the 21st century and beyond.

I love language; the way it moves, the way you can craft sound and build momentum. I love the way words allow us to weave descriptors, myths and stories. I love the might of prose when used to overcome injustice or to fight for a necessary cause. 

And yet, we use words and acronyms every day to paraphrase and define. We use them to order and sequence and categorise, we use them for labels and for ease. Teaching is filled with them, definitions and categories, the DfE, POLAR4, ALIS, MIDYS, SEND, ISI, OFSTED are but a few. Society looks to educators, as those with the glossary for this educational terminology, to correctly apply it. But what happens when we can’t? What happens when there isn’t a common understanding or a shared approach? 

We then use confirmation bias to confirm what we believe to be true. Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports prior beliefs or values. People display this bias when they select information that supports their views, ignoring contrary information, or when they interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing attitudes. 

Our social systems have taught us to think of people in groups, students as cohorts and so we group them together. As educators, we define and label and use our glossary of terms to ensure that we can best support each group. Yet the danger in this is we lose our ability to speak of individuals, to speak beyond labels, we lose our ability to respond to the needs of individual children or we sacrifice the one for the many. Sometimes we choose one overarching characteristic and this becomes the defining one.

When we look demographically at UK teachers, the statistics are telling. In 2021, 85% of UK teachers were from White British backgrounds, as were 92.5% of Headteachers. 75.5% of UK teachers were women. And in a 2022 study for UCAS, 59% of 18-year-olds surveyed felt that they were unable to enter the teaching profession due to the educational or financial constraints placed upon them because of their socio-economic background. Armed with this data, I would question how a teacher’s personal experiences affect how they approach their students and where their unconscious biases or lack of lived experiences come into play.

Psychologists report that it takes one tenth of a second to judge a person and form a first impression, and as we know we will use sensory evidence to form this opinion. As I stand in a classroom or sit in the staffroom, people will form some opinions about me; how others interact with me, how I am dressed, the colour of my skin, my body language and my accent will all form an impression in their mind. They might make assumptions based on them. They could have possibly characterised me and might use confirmation bias to align their assumptions with their observations.

For a moment, imagine that I am a student and you are my teacher…

Can you place my accent? Would it be rude to ask me where I am from? How might I feel if you were incorrect in your assumption? How might knowing this information help you to teach me? Most people would define my ethnicity as Caucasian; Am I White English? Irish? Welsh? Would you define me as British? What if I don’t fit any of those definitions in their entirety? What stereotypes might be applied to me? And how might I feel when I am forced to prove my nationality or ethnic background? My level of English?

And what about when your unconscious biases don’t align with the boxes I might tick for myself, when your perception of me changes based on categorisation? I loathe census surveys, because I don’t fit in the neat little tick boxes. My attempts are always a best fit based on the categories I am given. I am not unusual in this, and I know that my level of privilege is higher than most of my students. I am keenly conscious that your perception of me might change based on the boxes I felt forced to tick. And so, if you were my teacher, would my sexual orientation, medical history, my accent, my political views, my socio-economic background or my educational history change how you might view me? 

What if fear of being pitied or treated differently prevented me from showing up authentically? How might this make me feel? And would you view me differently if I hid the ways I might identify myself to you? What if I told you that my accent has often been mocked, my pronunciation corrected? That I have experienced religious, gender-based or sexual discrimination or that there are memes and stereotypes associated with how I might define myself culturally and that these things have prevented me from showing up authentically?

What happens when the boxes you tick for me shame me? Or provide me with a narrative I can’t or won’t identify with? Would knowing my Adverse Childhood Experiences Score make a difference in how you view me?

What if that narrative doesn’t allow me to celebrate or struggle with the richness or nuances of my culture, my traditions or my personal journey? The complexity of my ethnic background, my nationality, my culture, religion, my lived personal journey won’t fit into a neatly labeled box or definition.

What if assumptions and stereotypes are written about me because of which boxes you have placed me in. What if your aspirations for me are not aspirational enough? What if I have equality in your system but no equity?

And what if I go through life either not meeting anyone who I can identify with or who can be my role model? How does that impact how I see myself and the wider world? What if I cannot succeed in a system that doesn’t see me?

A person’s sense of belonging from childhood underpins the entirety of their journey. Belonging relies on being seen and heard, having appropriate representation and being encouraged to be your authentic self without fear of judgment. 

Belonging is not trying to fit within a cohort or box, it is not having to develop resilience or grit to work twice as hard as everyone around you. Belonging is not having to work around a lack of resources or support. Belonging is not denying parts of yourself; becoming self-deprecating, being useful, funny or stepping into another role when you walk into the classroom. Belonging isn’t having to hide or opposingly, becoming the stereotype that people characterise you as because that has been the role that has been confirmed for you by their lived experiences or biases.

I wasn’t ever going to be able to write about this topic using quantitative data. I believe that the quantitative data that is used in education to categorise children is fundamentally part of the problem. My research was qualitative because children aren’t statistics, they shouldn’t be defined by the percentage of A*-C, Midys, ALIS, Progress 8, Polar 4 quintile, or their ACES scores. The grade written on a JCQ printout on Results’ Day should include a narrative of each child’s individuality and not a sanitised numeric score. 

My data is qualitative….

It’s the story of Jacob, the only boy of a White and Black Caribbean background, growing up in a majority white town, in a majority white school in a white household. Jacob who was constantly in trouble because he wanted to wear his hair natural and who could never walk through the corridors without someone wanting to touch his hair. Jacob who tried to fit the narrative that people gave him and was constantly breaking school rules. Jacob, who didn’t feel a sense of belonging and although he was one of the brightest students I have ever met, people’s aspirations of him were not high enough.

It’s the story of Katerina, the only English Traveller girl in a leafy-lane, middle class school. Katerina, whose parents didn’t have GCSEs, Katerina who was often kept off school to look after younger children. Katerina was discouraged from revising and was torn between embracing the cultural expectations of her and wanting desperately to be the first person in her family to achieve GCSEs. Katerina, who would often misbehave towards the end of the week to land herself in detention which would enable her to revise. Katerina who spoke with an accent and dialect that was unique to her culture but who was constantly corrected at school.

There is no easy fix for this issue. It requires teachers to be self-reflective practitioners, to challenge assumptions, to think beyond the framework that Ofsted, ISI and national league tables provide. It requires us to be vulnerable, to be still and listen, to acknowledge that we are the sum total of our experiences and that we are not the oracles just because we are the ones standing at the front of the class. It requires empathy, allyship and advocacy, to not accept the status quo and to acknowledge our own and others’ privilege.

In the spirit of vulnerability, I am a woman who struggles with boxes. There is no box to put me in and I am keenly aware that on the whole, my intersections are fairly normative. And so, I challenge you to share yourself, to encourage, to correct with empathy, to challenge misconceptions and accept how people individually define themselves, even if it doesn’t fit into a neat set of boxes or it challenges your experience, your perception or the norms of your organisation or society. Once upon a time, every adult was a child, a child whose sense of belonging, underpins the entirety of their journey, a child, and this journey starts in school, where every child should matter.

Why students should be taught the truth about Remembrance

Selena Carty portrait

Written by Selena Carty

Cultural and Ancestral Genealogist, Global War Heritage Specialist, Identity and Empowerment Consultant and Founder of BlackPoppyRose.

I was recently asked by the British Army to contribute to its new set of school resources on Remembrance. As the founder of BlackPoppyRose, I accepted the opportunity. My aims are to enlighten all people of the contributions of African, Black, West Indian, Caribbean Pacific Islands and Indigenous communities to history in wars/revolutions and rebellions.  

So, let me ask you a question: How do you mark Remembrance Day? For me, I remember Albert Carty who served in World War I in the No’2 Construction Battalion. After arriving in the UK, he travelled across England and Scotland as part of the lumberjack battalion. He returned home after the war and became a father to seven sons. Five went on to join the Royal Canadian Airforce and served in World War II. The remembrance of families doing their part in a world that had set so many apart.

Remembrance means a connection to yesterday and the yesterdays before yesterday, which brings light the relevance of our actions today. When I think about Remembrance, I think of my mother, father, grandparents and great grandparents. I think about the legacies of family. I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the efforts made by those who made choices before I came into existence. 

There is a crucial need to improve how we explain the significance of Remembrance to young people, especially in the UK. We live in a cosmopolitan modern world where everything is moving a lot faster than I remember. Everything is now! (Like Amazon Prime deliveries, with no understanding of the framework, planning and years of innovation to make this happen.) 

The legacies that have built the worlds we see today are very often under-educated, misinterpreted or omitted. The more we do to encourage Remembrance will allow us to come together with our own unique stories and share the impacts that the changing worlds and legacies before us have had and will still have on us in the present and near future. 

To know that you are connected to something that has passed is significant to why we are here, why we speak the languages we do, why our names are what they are, why we can call more than one place our home or ancestral homes, and even the accessibility to the music that we listen to. All this enables each of us to have a unique perspective about Remembrance that we all benefit from. 

Where should children start to learn about their past? With their immediate families as well as their peers and friends’ parent are also potential sources of information teachers. Additionally, organisations like BlackPoppyRose can help point them in the right direction. We also encourage students to check their local libraries, bookshops, museums, galleries and archives as well as the internet by using key phrases or tags.

So, what more can schools do to teach pupils about Remembrance? Tell the truth about what you know. We all have a version of ‘truth’. Telling the truth resonates stronger than untruths as it allows us to identify with the world we currently live in and the legacies we have inherited from the past. It will help to understand the choices made by so many in uncertain times. We cannot change the past, but we can be open and honest about what has happened, allowing us all to work together to find improvements on things that are pre-existing and still affecting us all today.

The British Army has created a library of resources for secondary schools. To access its Remembrance resource, visit  https://tinyurl.com/ye2928v7

Anti-racism in the Early Years

Rachna Joshi portrait

Written by Rachna Joshi

Rachna is a teacher and consultant. She works with under-threes, Nursery and Reception children, and holds an MA in Early Childhood Studies. Rachna writes and speaks at events sharing experience and knowledge, empowering practitioners and provoking questions to disrupt routine practice. She supports schools by guiding educators to implement inspiring practice that reflects their classes. She works as a freelance consultant and with the Froebel Trust as a travelling tutor.

Originally published for Early Education in 2020:



Race and racism in society is as important as ever; I am writing not only as a British South Asian who has experienced racism, but as an ally against white supremacy and anti-Black sentiment that perpetuates our consciousness.

Structural racism is insidious, and we need to look at ourselves and think about the messages we perpetuate. The racism that comes through our thinking, language and gestures shows the undercurrent of white supremacy in the ways that we perceive the world.


This was written to respond to the systemic racism in education as a profession.

It is great that some people are more aware and doing what they can to ‘be anti-racist’, but this needs to continue – it’s a movement, not a moment.

There are many problems with systemic racism in Early Childhood settings, and I hope to provide some suggestions and links for your own reflective practice –I can’t tell you what to do, it is your journey and up to you to educate yourself, but I hope this helps on that journey.

Reading articles on racism may be uncomfortable, as it is an upheaval of what we know, and what is normal, and this is because ‘normal’ is inherently racist. I want to ask questions that may not be answered here, because this is a point of introspection and individual responsibility when it comes to looking after our children and being ‘players’ in a wider world. You need to ask yourself questions, consider who you are and what your call to action is for change.


Often as Educators we are seen as though we are already doing “the good work”, yet this topic brings about a space for deep introspection. When you set up and manage your classrooms ensure representation is embedded and not an ‘add on’. White, cisgender heteronormativity cannot be the default.

Classroom changes need to look beyond book corners and skin colour paints. Colleagues shared with me the lack of thought behind some small world people resources as the shop only provided white people. The representative resources already exist, unfortunately it is not mainstream, but this needs to change. Audit your dressing up clothes, food items and hair related products for your role play areas – ask parents to donate items. Tune into and value the voices in the classroom that come from wider communities. Consider the characters and stories that are shared – what message is being shared around skin colour, femininity and hair when using Frozen characters for example?

Development Matters and the EYFS People and Communities ELG explicitly reference “similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions” if we decipher the curriculum through this lens we may see that we should already be exposing children to a variety of cultures to provide opportunity for discussion with children. Presumably these statements are based on the research that expressions of racial prejudice peak by age 4 or 5 (Aboud, 2008). However, often we only hear about wider cultures and practices through celebrations: Eid, Diwali, Hannukah, Chinese New Year, this ‘add-on’ doesn’t provide the deeper discussion of cultures and values that encompass the everyday for the children that celebrate these festivals. What are you doing to ensure that all communities are represented and respected? And how do you incorporate these communities into your usual practice and provision? How do you ensure that your practice provides a wider perspective?


There needs to be deeper consideration of how curricula can be decolonised, ensuring key figures are discussed and explored. It is not enough to teach the history of enslavement and civil rights (which are important stories that represent the struggle so many marginalised communities have experienced) it is about countering the narrative that to be non-white is not normal.

“Cultural capital” needs to include key public figures, artists and musicians, but also everyday heroes that children may see in the community. We want our children to have a foundation of curiosity, knowledge, and respect for differences, so that they don’t absorb the idea that the lives of black, and other people of colour are only about struggle.

Acknowledging cultural capital means noticing, celebrating, and valuing difference. Most schools celebrate white men- Samuel Pepys when learning about the Great Fire of London, Pablo Picasso, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong in the recent Moon Landings celebrations. Where are the Black people? Are we giving an accurate representation of history if the only figures we see are white men? What about Mary Seacole, Steve McQueen, Katharine Johnson, Ai WeiWei, Anish Kapoor?

To question my own biases when planning curriculum drivers, I have begun to ensure a set of questions are on the top of every curriculum document:

  • Have you addressed sustainability?
  • Have you shown a variety of families/gender roles?
  • Have you included characters and perspective from a variety of backgrounds, especially those who are under-represented?
  • Have you included stories that show a range of emotions for discussion?
  • Is there an opportunity for cultural capital?

Cultural practices are often forgotten and seen as an ‘add on’. An example might be a discussion of eating with hands vs. eating with knives and forks – some things that might be seen as a norm in one culture is the opposite in another. Have you made space for this in your classroom and your own understanding of your children and their cultures?

Reflection and Response

Are you prepared to discuss race, or answer a question on race when it occurs in the classroom and ensure you have done best for that child?

Ensure you are prepared to talk about skin colour, culture, religion so you’re not scrambling for words when a child asks a direct question about these things. Have you spoken to families to ask them how they have approached discussing skin colour? How are you ensuring families feel confident to discuss race?

Ultimately as practitioners we are familiar with constant reflection, but it takes more to look closely at the implicit bias that we perpetuate. Don’t be afraid to talk about it, but make sure you research and read up – educate yourself. Make lifestyle changes that involve taking on these wider perspectives beyond your early education practice.


What do your leadership teams look like? In predominantly white areas there may be little diversity, but is there diversity in the content that is taught to children? Are staff aware of the wider world and implications of their bias? Are staff considering the possibility of providing only a white view of the world to children? Is there a consideration from leadership teams to reflect on systemic racism in schools and settings, and how could this be tackled? Could your schools consider mandatory staff training on Black history, global non-white-led history and open discussion of unlearning of implicit bias (by consultants who specialise in this area)?

Are you questioning decisions that perpetuate anti-blackness and racism in your school? If you are white, do you stand up for your underrepresented colleagues, who may not have the privilege to stand up for themselves?


When Early Childhood Education institutions are questioned, the inherent tokenistic nature of BAME representation is revealed. When representation is conceived through a lens of empty diversity that leads to tokenistic representation in chairs and boards, then what message does this send, and what actual intervention does this make in challenging implicit bias and institutional racism?

The government response to including Black History and minority ethnic representation into the curriculum was that it is up to teachers to do this (see petition response). Where in Initial Teacher Training is there a discussion of systemic racism and bias and how practitioners can support BAME families appropriately? In Early Childhood academia, a privileged position to be in, majority of academics are white and therefore research continues to remain whitewashed.

A large part of the wider work to tackle racism is to look at our institutions and policies. Our institutions are built upon racist ideologies and anti-blackness. There are petitions to change how our curriculum looks at a wider policy level but these are often rejected. There needs to be a whole government strategy, that needs to be continually lobbied by all Early Education influencers and those in positions of power who are allies in this movement.

Further Reading

Blogs and Articles

Laura Henry-Allain’s article in Nursery World

Kate Moxley’s podcast discusses blackness in Early Years with Liz Pemberton and “The Early Years Orchestra” episode with Jamal Carly

An Abolitionist Coalition Grassroots Movement in Education

US based article writing about racism in preschool

Nursery practitioner David Cahn writes about allyship and racism in Early Years

Decolonising curriculums

Practitioner’s roles in decolonising curriculums

Reflection on anti-racism in schools

Making changes to the curriculum

Parliament response to Decolonisation of curriculum petition

Talking race with children and families

How to respond to children when they ask race related questions

Parents guide to Black Lives Matter

Social Media Accounts to Follow

Black Nursery Manager Instagram @theblacknurserymanager
The Conscious Kid Instagram @theconsciouskid
Jamal Carly Instagram @Jamal.Carly
JossyCare Instagram @JossyCare
Laura Henry-Allain Twitter @IamLauraHenry


National Literacy Trust Book list
Spud and Yam Irish and Jamaican musicians
Black History Resources for UK schools


Aboud, F. E. (2008). A social-cognitive developmental theory of prejudice. In S. M. Quintana & C.
McKown (Eds.), Handbook of race, racism, and the developing child (p. 55–71). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Empowering Through Education: The Rastafarian Scheme of Work

Johnoi Josephs portrait

Written by Johnoi Josephs

Johnoi Josephs is the Associate Assistant Principal at a school in West London where he specialises in Behaviour, Attendance and Pastoral Programmes. He also teaches RE, Citizenship and Sociology. As well as teaching he is the co-founder of Black Men Teach which aims to build a space where Black Males and Boys can thrive in education. For him, BMT is important because representation matters in all sense and so we need to illustrate presence in every industry/profession. Johnoi aims to live a life of servitude where he is able to make as much impact as possible when it comes to education.

In the pursuit of a more inclusive and culturally diverse education system, it’s essential to recognise the power of representation. As a black male teacher from Jamaica, my journey in creating the Rastafarian Scheme of Work was fuelled by a desire to pay homage to my roots and provide students with a curriculum that embraces their own cultural identities. This endeavour was not only a personal passion, but a fundamental step towards decolonising the curriculum.

The Inspiration

The spark for this project ignited during a conversation with a friend. We delved into the complexities of decolonising the curriculum, particularly within Religious Studies. It was clear that this endeavour required a nuanced approach. Armed with this newfound determination, I set out to create a curriculum that would bridge the gap between mainstream education and the rich tapestry of Rastafarianism.

A Journey of Dedication

Crafting the Rastafarian Scheme of Work was no small feat. Balancing it with my other responsibilities was a challenge, but I knew this endeavour was a crucial step towards a more inclusive educational experience. I dedicated days of my summer holidays to ensure that this curriculum would be comprehensive, engaging, and transformative for students.

Empowering Through Knowledge

The Rastafarian Scheme of Work is a meticulously designed curriculum that empowers KS3 students with deep understanding of Rastafarianism. This comprehensive course comprises:

  • Seven Detailed Lessons: Each lesson is designed to provide students with a holistic view of Rastafarianism, encompassing its origins, beliefs, practices, and cultural significance.
  • Medium Term Plan (MTP) Breakdown: This plan outlines the progression of the curriculum, ensuring a seamless and immersive learning experience.
  • Knowledge Organiser: A valuable resource that condenses essential information, allowing students to review and reinforce their understanding.
  • Assessment: A tool to evaluate students’ grasp of the material, providing valuable feedback for both educators and learners.
  • Extra Resources: Supplementary materials enrich the learning journey, offering a well-rounded exploration of Rastafarianism.

The Power of Representation

Incorporating diverse perspectives and cultural awareness in education is not merely a matter of political correctness, but a fundamental necessity for the holistic development of students. Research consistently demonstrates the profound impact of representation on learning outcomes, social integration, and well-being.

  • Enhancing Learning Outcomes: Inclusive curricula positively affect student motivation and achievement levels, leading to higher academic performance.
  • Fostering Inclusivity and Belonging: Representation in education helps foster a sense of inclusivity and belonging, leading to increased participation, improved social integration, and a stronger sense of community within the school.
  • Cultivating Empathy and Global Awareness: Exposure to diverse perspectives cultivates empathy and a broader understanding of the world, a critical skill in an increasingly interconnected and globalised society.
  • Mitigating Stereotypes and Biases: Inclusive education challenges harmful stereotypes and biases, fostering a more accurate and nuanced understanding of different cultures and identities.

Transforming Schools: A Call to Action

Given the wealth of research supporting the importance of representation and cultural awareness in education, educators must take proactive steps towards decolonising the curriculum. The Rastafarian Scheme of Work is a prime example of how a curriculum rooted in cultural authenticity can drive positive learning outcomes and empower students to embrace their identities.

By embracing diverse perspectives, we not only enrich the educational experience, but also prepare students to navigate an increasingly diverse and interconnected world. Through inclusive education, we can truly empower the next generation to become compassionate, culturally aware global citizens.

Incorporating the Rastafarian Scheme of Work into your curriculum is a significant step towards creating an environment where every student from certain backgrounds can feel valued, seen, and heard. Together, we can work towards a more inclusive and equitable education system that prepares students for a future marked by understanding, empathy, and respect.