Rachel Lofthouse portrait

Written by Professor Rachel Lofthouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Webinar Panellists

Bennie Kara:

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

Adrian McLean:

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

Damien Page:

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

Hannah Wilson:

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

The Diverse Educators’ Inclusive Allyship Toolkit: