South Asian Heritage Month: free to be me.

Zahara Chowdhury portrait

Written by Zahara Chowdhury

Zahara is founder and editor of the blog and podcast, School Should Be, a platform that explores a range of topics helping students, teachers and parents on how to ‘adult well’, together. She is a DEI lead across 2 secondary schools and advises schools on how to create positive and progressive cultures for staff and students. Zahara is a previous Head of English, Associate Senior Leader and Education and Wellbeing Consultant.

This year’s theme for SAHM is beautiful: free to be me. As we celebrate lived experiences, storytelling and authenticity, it seems only right that freedom and embracing our individual narratives is next.

This year’s theme has made me think where have I felt my most free? It’s not an easy question to answer. You see, growing up South Asian, (in my case, a British Pakistani Muslim, who’s family was born and raised in Africa), masking your identity can often feel normal, particularly when masking makes you feel safe in public, school and at work. Returning home, comes with its own comforts and conflict: finding joy in your culture and sticking out because you don’t really ‘fit’ within it either. Freedom then becomes a rather grey area and one that does not feel easily attainable.

Over the years, particularly I adulthood, there are a few spaces where I have come close to ‘free’: one was in my classroom. When teaching, my classroom was predominantly full of students who looked like me, shared similar lived experiences and most importantly we connected over an understanding of shared ambitions, aspirations and values. I felt free in an office with a colleague who shared my heritage; breaktimes and lunchtimes were full of laughter, candid conversations and asking each other, ‘what did your mum use to store atta in the kitchen?’, ‘were your sofas covered in shrink wrap too?’

Since then, I have felt most free in conversation with South Asian educators across the sector, most recently in conversation learning all about the wonders of Pehalwaan Juice (if you know you know…I definitely didn’t!). In many ways I share this with caution: for someone who works to amplify diversity, is there a problem if my freedom is sought and felt within my own community? Do I then just enjoy being a part of my own echo chamber?

The answer is no. Within these spaces diversity thrives. Diversity of thought, feelings, faith, work, experiences – being South Asian does not make us all one and the same and every South Asian friend, colleague and student I have connected with has a different story and identity. If anything, the freedom I feel in these spaces makes me more determined to centralise my identity in mainstream spaces too.

My childhood and teen years were branded with the term ‘coconut’ – in many ways, I didn’t think much of it then and I don’t think much of it now. What I do think about now though is how the identity of a ‘coconut’ lacked freedom. Consciously and subconsciously (and I really hope fellow South Asians can relate) I spent my childhood and adolescence straddling between several identities, depending on the audience – and I happened to be pretty good at it; I still am (we are pros when it comes to masking). I (still) do not know enough about my heritage, and I still don’t feel very ‘white’ either. Perhaps this is what imposter really means.

I studied all of this at university, wrote about it for my dissertation. 15 years later, specialising in a field that very much reflects the truth of my life couldn’t be more imperfectly perfect, no matter how much I question it on a daily basis (awareness and celebratory months are only one piece of the ‘work’). If anything, my experiences as a teacher and now EDI trainer, speaker and consultant are in some ways liberating and in other ways, revealing of just how far ‘we’ (marginalised and minorities in the West) have to go to be free.

South Asian Heritage is rich, diverse, nuanced and just huge – I am so naive and ignorant of its beauty. There is so much to learn. I’m not sure I’m free to be me just yet…but I think (and hope) we’ll get there soon.

In light of this and all of the learning and connections we have to make, I’m excited to share a space, network and group for South Asian Educators to connect, talk and be. Assistant Headteacher and Author, Yamina Bibi has said, the network will be a space ‘for anyone who is looking for a safe space for those of South Asian heritage. The challenges and issues facing South Asian Educators is somewhat different to those from other heritage groups as they are often thought of as the hard workers, obedient, quiet, shy, oppressed by colleagues and society in general. This network will support more educators to have their unique voices heard.’  We want this network to be collaborative, safe, empowering and a community where we can learn from one another too. Please Join us here!

 


Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Doors: A Metaphor for the Diverse Curriculum

Hannah Wilson portrait

Written by Hannah Wilson

Founder of Diverse Educators

In the dynamic landscape of education, the curriculum serves as the foundation for shaping young minds. As we strive for a more inclusive and representative educational experience, the metaphor of Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Doors offers a powerful framework for curriculum development. This metaphor, introduced by Dr Rudine Sims Bishop, encapsulates the essence of diversity, equity, inclusion  and belonging within educational content, emphasising the importance of reflection, observation, and engagement for all learners.

Mirrors: Reflecting Students’ Own Lives

Mirrors in the curriculum are essential for students to see themselves – their cultures, identities, and experiences – reflected in what they learn. When students encounter stories, histories, and perspectives that resonate with their own lives, they feel validated and recognised. This reflection fosters a sense of belonging and self-worth, which is crucial for their overall development and academic success.

For curriculum specialists and subject leaders, this means incorporating diverse voices and narratives across all subjects. For example, in literature, selecting texts from a variety of authors who represent different backgrounds ensures that every student can see themselves on the page. In history, presenting a more inclusive perspective that acknowledges the contributions and experiences of marginalised groups and provides a fuller understanding of the past.

Windows: Viewing Others’ Lives

Windows offer students a view into the lives and experiences of people different from themselves. Through these glimpses, learners develop empathy, understanding, and a broader perspective of the world. Windows help dismantle stereotypes and prejudices, fostering a more inclusive mindset among students.

To create these windows, educators need to curate a curriculum that includes global perspectives and diverse narratives. In geography, this might involve studying various cultures and their relationships with the environment. In science, discussing contributions from global scientists highlights the universal nature of discovery. Providing opportunities for students to engage with content that portrays different lifestyles, beliefs, and challenges cultivates an appreciation for diversity and interconnectedness.

Sliding Doors: Engaging and Interacting

Sliding doors represent opportunities for students to enter into, and interact with, different worlds. This element encourages active engagement and personal reflection. When students can metaphorically ‘step into’ the experiences of others, they gain deeper insights of different identities and build meaningful connections.

Interactive projects, collaborative learning experiences, and role-playing activities serve as sliding doors in the curriculum. For instance, a history project where students re-enact historical events from multiple perspectives can provide profound learning experiences. In literature, writing assignments that ask students to create narratives from the viewpoint of characters unlike themselves can deepen empathy and understanding.

Integrating Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Doors

To integrate these concepts effectively, curriculum specialists and subject leaders must be intentional and thoughtful in their approach. This involves:

  • Reviewing and Revising Existing Curriculum: Conducting thorough audits to identify gaps and biases. Ensuring that the content reflects a diverse range of voices and perspectives.
  • Collaborating with Diverse Communities: Engaging with parents/ carers, community leaders, and organisations to gather input and resources. This collaboration can enrich the curriculum with authentic, representative materials.
  • Providing Professional Development: Equipping teachers with the skills and knowledge to deliver an inclusive curriculum. Training on cultural competence, unconscious bias, and inclusive teaching strategiesl.
  • Utilising Technology and Media: Leveraging digital resources to access a wider array of content. Using online platforms, virtual exchanges, and multimedia can bring diverse voices and experiences into the classroom.
  • Encouraging Student Voice and Choice: Empowering students to share their stories and choose projects that reflect their interests and identities. Designing student-centred approach fosters a sense of ownership and relevance in their learning.

The metaphor of Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Doors provides a robust framework for creating an inclusive and representative curriculum. By reflecting students’ identities, offering insights into others’ lives, and facilitating active engagement, educators can cultivate a learning environment that values diversity, promotes equity, centres inclusion and builds belonging. As curriculum specialists and subject leaders, embracing this metaphor not only enriches the educational experience but also prepares students to thrive in a diverse and interconnected world.


Using stories and voices to combat the narrative of antisemitic hate: opportunities afforded by the Curriculum for Wales.

Jennifer Harding-Richards portrait

Written by Jennifer Harding-Richards

Jennifer is currently on secondment working as RVE and RSE adviser to schools across three local authorities as well as RVE adviser to the SACRE’s in each of the three authorities. She is passionate about education and especially keen on ensuring that social justice and equity are at the heart of all RVE and RSE curriculum planning, development and pedagogy within the Curriculum for Wales. She is the RE Hubs lead for Wales and a member of the steering committee for the Welsh Jewish Heritage Centre. She has previously worked as a freelance educator for the Holocaust Education Trust and has an MA in World Religions.

According to a recent report (ref 1), there were three times the numbers of antisemitic incidents reported across Wales in 2023, compared with 2022. The incidents which included threats, abusive behaviour and assault, represent a rise of 338%.

Wales is the first, and so far, the only home nation to have made the teaching of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic histories a mandatory element of their curriculum and are committed to being an anti-racist nation by 2030. The anti-racist action plan (ref 2) includes the vision, values, purpose and strategies needed to support this and understandably, education has a large role to play.

The Curriculum for Wales, introduced in 2022, empowers individual schools to craft and cultivate their own unique curriculum. The aim of each school’s curriculum is to nurture students who are:

  • ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives
  • enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work
  • ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world
  • healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.

As we work towards an anti-racist nation, we are reminded about the power of education. Nelson Mandela’s infamous quote ‘education is the most powerful weapon with which you can change the world’ really resonates with the vision that we have in Wales. We know that far-right philosophies and beliefs are infiltrating mainstream culture, and our children are intoxicated with the images, speeches and behaviour of those that preach such ideologies. As educators, we have the responsibility to counteract such narratives and use our privileged position as curriculum designers and teachers to support our learners to become ethical and informed citizens, able to not only take their place within our diverse society, but to contribute and make positive change.

Wales has a rich, diverse and multi-cultural history. We have a rich legacy of inclusive education as well as a welcoming acceptance for the many diverse cultures and followers of faith that have made Wales their home. The story is told of how some of the first Jews in Wales, arriving in Merthyr Tydfil in the eighteenth century, peered through the windows of some local homes, and on seeing a Bible in every one, decided that this was a place where they could stay and be welcomed.

Using Welsh Jewish stories and voices within our school curricula, whilst obviously not eradicating antisemitism in its entirety, will help develop a generation of young people who are able to humanise and personalise others, avoiding stereotypes and challenge the narrative of the media and those with the loudest voices. We want our children to become ethical and informed citizens, capable of independent thought and able to critically engage with the toxicity of hate that surrounds us on a daily basis.

There are so many Welsh Jewish stories that deserve to be told, individuals who have helped shape our society and made a positive impact on others. Leo Abse, for example, a social reformer, and Labour MP for 30 years. He was influential in the shift in laws and norms towards the acceptance of homosexuality and divorce. We want our pupils to engage with discussion around his ideals and values and how they have changed Wales for the better. His aunt, Lily Tobias, had a multilingual childhood in Ystalyfera which fostered in her a political activism, a sense of social justice and a determination to try and change the world. Her legacy cannot ever be underestimated. Kate Bosse Griffiths, escaped Nazi Germany and along with her husband, became a founding member of ‘Cylch Cadwgan’, an organisation that welcomed and celebrated writers, poets and pacifists. Her own writing focused on her feminist ideals and sense of spirituality. She made a huge difference to those around her.

In working towards an anti-racist Wales, in celebrating and recognising cynefin (ref 3) and using our subsidiarity and autonomy to design our own bespoke curriculum for our learners, we have a real opportunity to use stories and voices to challenge stereotypes, antisemitic tropes and narratives of hate.  

References

‘We’ve not seen this since the Holocaust’: Antisemitism in Wales up by 300% after outbreak of war:

https://www.itv.com/news/wales/2024-03-01/300-rise-in-antisemitism-in-wales-is-unprecedented-since-the-holocaust

Anti-racist Wales Action Plan

https://www.gov.wales/anti-racist-wales-action-plan-contents

‘cynefin’

A Welsh word for which there is no direct translation. It refers to the ideas of habitat and a sense of rootedness, It describes the environment in which one is naturally acclimatised.


Should schools provide prayer spaces?

Zahara Chowdhury portrait

Written by Zahara Chowdhury

Zahara is founder and editor of the blog and podcast, School Should Be, a platform that explores a range of topics helping students, teachers and parents on how to ‘adult well’, together. She is a DEI lead across 2 secondary schools and advises schools on how to create positive and progressive cultures for staff and students. Zahara is a previous Head of English, Associate Senior Leader and Education and Wellbeing Consultant.

The recent High Court decision, ruling in favour of headteacher Birbalsingh’s decision to ban prayer spaces has created quite the media storm. The decision has raised concerns about the precedent it sets for schools creating safe spaces for students and staff, Muslim students and staff in particular. It has also raised conversations about what schools are for and how schools and workplaces can fulfill their obligation to adhere to the Equality Act and The Public Sector Equality Duty – and how they can get around it too.

The responses to the verdict reveal that we live in a society and online world in which Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate is increasing; whilst we have ‘come a long way’ in overcoming Islamophobia since 9/11, a high court ruling like this makes me wonder if we’ve made any difference at all to the safety of Muslims for future generations? The verdict also reveals the disconnect that exists within the school system itself: we have some leaders who are not interested in creating unity and understanding within a diverse country – yet at the same time they ‘tokenistically’ take pride in multiculturalism too. And, we have other leaders in education giving us hope, embedding inclusive and equitable practices in everyday school life. I find it baffling that a simple question about prayer spaces ends up at the gates of a High Court. To me, this not only reveals a lack of unity and understanding in a school but also an absence of a critical skill that should be at the centre of schooling: listening.

Many educators and commentators have been sharing their concerns and outrage about the decision. It will also concern parents and students who regularly use prayer spaces in schools, maybe even at work (many teachers use prayer spaces too). It’s a disappointing decision and whilst several anti-woke keyboard warriors rejoice at the ruling, we cannot let it set a precedent for schools – and I don’t think it will. Schools absolutely should provide prayer spaces and they will continue to provide such safe spaces for students – it’s quite simply common sense. For this blog, examples and explanations are practical and experiential, based on what life is like ‘in school’. Whilst research and data are important, progress, collaboration and community cohesion are also nurtured by listening to the candid, lived experiences of staff and students in schools.

Time and space to pray

In line with the Equality Act, allowing students and staff to pray is reasonable and proportionate to a school and working day. It is comparable to allowing students to have break times, music lessons and god-forbid, toilet breaks. Different forms of prayer and spiritual practice are a part of nearly every faith. In Islam, praying 5 times a day is an integral part of the faith. It takes 5-10 minutes to pray. For the duration of that time, a prayer mat takes up just as much space as a two-seater desk. Depending on the time of year, prayer usually fits into a lunchtime. Just as schools host extracurricular clubs, music lessons sports fixtures and more, prayer can usually fit into this time too. It is not a big ask and it is not disruptive.

Some schools may have a designated prayer room, which is great. Other schools may allocate a classroom, usually near a space where a teacher is ‘on duty’ anyway; the last time I checked, prayer doesn’t require back flips, cartwheels or balancing on one’s head…the health and safety risks are fairly manageable. Some schools might even say, ‘if you need to pray and you have what you need with you (prayer mat, head covering, beads, holy book etc…), feel free to use a designated safe space. It does not need to be complicated.

Prayer spaces are not the problem

To blame prayer and collective worship for peer pressure and bullying is deflecting from the real problem. If children start praying as a result of seeing others pray, or if they simply observe with questions and curiosity, why is this such a problem? If they find it to be a positive experience, surely that can only be a positive learning experience. If the opposite happens, it’s not necessarily a problem either. Rather, it’s a teachable moment and reveals hostile attitudes any school should be aware of. Knowledge about the prejudices within our communities is the first step to safeguarding young people in education. ‘Cancelling’ or banning prayer spaces is not. 

‘Banning’ or ‘cancelling’ (on and offline) doesn’t work. It is a power-based behaviour management tool fuelling a notion that education is based on ‘controlling the masses’. We all learn through conversation, discussion, listening, knowledge, understanding, boundaries and respect, not necessarily in that order. By no means are any of the latter ‘easy’ to achieve, but from working with teenagers I’ve found they’re open to a heated debate, discussion, learning, understanding and compromise. 

School is a place of work and I’m not sure why we expect teenagers to just abide by ‘yes and no’ rules with little to no explanation. Plus, if they find a reasonable solution (like praying in a classroom for 10 minutes at lunchtime), what’s the big deal? Secondary school students are a few years away from further education and the workplace, which we all know thrives on innovation, creativity and autonomy. In this case, a blanket prayer ban in a school (their current place of work) completely contradicts the 21st century workplace they will inhabit. It doesn’t make sense. 

‘It’s inconvenient: we don’t have time to police prayer spaces’

Like any theory of change, whether that be introducing a mobile phone policy or changes to a uniform policy, navigating any arising teething issues (by students, parents and the community), takes time and flexibility. None of this is impossible if it is built firmly into the school culture, relevant processes and policies. These policies and processes may be safeguarding, anti-bullying, behaviour management and curriculum. All of the above are part of a teacher’s and a school’s day-to-day functions; navigating prayer spaces is no different to introducing a new club or curriculum change. Plus, we somehow managed bubbles and one-way systems post-lockdown…I think schools are pretty well equipped to create a prayer space for all of a matter of minutes in a day!

Prayer is not ‘an add on’

Faith is observed differently, from person to person. It is a way of life, and an ongoing lived experience; for some it is an integral part of their identity and for others it is their identity. Prayer is a major part of several religious practices. Like some people are vegan and vegetarian, prayer is not just a choice and something to switch on and off – it is an intrinsic part of an individual’s life. Some individuals, as far as they possibly can, plan their days, weeks, holidays and more around prayer. Not only is it a religious obligation, it is also a source of wellbeing and peace. In a time where health and wellbeing are paramount in education, denying prayer spaces seems counterintuitive. Enabling some form of space (like we do options on a menu) for individuals to pray is a minimal request and something schools can do with minimal disruption. However, if cracks in the system are revealed and outrage spills online and at the High Court, there are bigger questions and concerns to address.

Schools don’t need to be ‘impossible’ or difficult spaces – and they shouldn’t be made out to be like this either. One high court ruling does not define the state of schooling in the UK. I have too much respect and experience (or maybe good fortune) of working in schools that enable, or at the very least, welcome conversations around inclusion, safety, flexibility and authenticity. None of the latter disrupts mainstream education and a student’s chances of attaining a grade 9. However, many other things do and those are inequitable opportunities, ‘belonging uncertainty’ (Cohen, 2022) and denying the identities of the young people we teach. 


Diversity in the Curriculum: The Vital Role of SMSC Subjects

Laura Gregory-White portrait

Written by Laura Gregory-White

Laura is an RE Regional Advisor for Jigsaw Education Group. She has over 15 years experience as an educator and curriculum lead across Primary and Secondary.

In today’s pluralistic society, where diversity is a fundamental part of who we are, conversations around diversity in schools and the curriculum are increasingly important. Subjects like Religious Education (RE) and Personal, Social, Health, and Economic Education (PSHE) are vital tools in our curriculum offering. Investing in these subjects, invests in our children and young people’s successful development of the skills and knowledge that help to navigate the complexities of our diverse world with empathy, understanding, and a commitment to social justice.

In Primary schools, where all the teaching staff will have an impact on curriculum development, it is crucial that we are giving them the necessary time and expertise to enable this. From the teachers developing and delivering the individual lessons, the subject leads with oversight for the entire curriculum journey, to the senior leaders who set the values that underpin curriculum design within a school. We all share the responsibility of designing curriculum that not only imparts knowledge but fosters a sense of belonging and inclusivity preparing our children to become global citizens. This journey begins with a deliberate and conscious approach to curriculum design. Every decision we make, from the voices we amplify to the resources we use, must reflect the diversity of human experience.

When facilitating discussions with RE subject leads on this topic, we speak about the implicit and explicit features of the curriculum. The implicit being those decisions we make as curriculum designers about what we include and represent. It means asking ourselves critical questions: What perspectives are included in our syllabi? Whose voices are being centred? Are we offering a diverse range of representation? These considerations extend beyond the mere content of our subjects; they seep into the language we use, the images we present, and the values we share. These decisions may not be explicitly obvious to the children in our lessons, but it frames a journey for them that better represents the world they are growing up in. Without this careful consideration, we can unintentionally establish an unconscious bias or reinforce stereotypes. 

Alongside these implicit considerations is the explicit curriculum, where we dedicate time in lessons to directly address issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging (DEIJB). It’s about more than just ticking boxes; it’s about fostering meaningful dialogue, challenging biases, and nurturing a culture of respect and understanding. SMSC subjects provide the structured opportunities for students to explore complex societal issues, interrogate their own beliefs and biases, and develop the critical thinking skills necessary to navigate an increasingly interconnected world. For staff to feel confident in leading these discussions, we need to support the ongoing development of their knowledge and understanding of these issues as well as the ways in which safe learning environments can be established, and discussion and debate can be managed. This will support them in feeling confident to plan in these explicit curriculum opportunities for our children. 

This is not a small job or short conversation with a defined end point. This is ongoing work, and it should be contextual. It is important that schools support their staff to engage with this through investment in high-quality resources, providing the time and opportunity for evaluation and review, and dedicating time to ongoing learning and development for staff. 

In a world dominated by technology, AI, and algorithms, education needs to do more than impart knowledge. It must nurture empathy, compassion, and a sense of collective responsibility. To achieve this, we must elevate and enhance subjects like RE and PSHE. They are essential components of a well-rounded education that prepares students to navigate the complexities of the modern world.


Diversifying Coaching in Education – A Funded Opportunity for the #DiverseEd Community to Train to Coach

Yasmin Ariff portrait

Written by Yasmin Ariff

Yasmin Ariff is a Partner and Director of Education at the CVP Group. CVP Group specialise in professional coaching training for managers and business leaders. They create coaching cultures across UK organisations, supported by the National Apprenticeship Service.

I wish I’d found coaching earlier in my teaching career. It has made me a better person on so many levels. But it came at a cost. Having invested £8000 of my own money into coaching training, it’s fair to say, although it’s been worth it, it also broke the bank balance. 

It made we wonder whether coaching would ever be a truly diverse and inclusive profession when only those with a higher-than-average income could afford the training. Even hiring a coach can cost around £100 per hour. 

So, how can we, as leaders, democratise coaching in Education?

How can we create a pool of coaches that represent the diverse backgrounds of our Educators?

If only there was a government-funded training programme for aspiring coaches that removed the barrier of cost…

If only there was a coaching training programme that promoted and included a range of diverse educators… 

Look no further!

CVP Group and #DiverseEd are partnering to deliver a funded training programme in October 2024 for aspiring coaches in England.

To apply, you will need to complete this #DiverseEd EOI and they will then send you the CVP ROI with the #DiverseEd Referral Code.

Introducing the Level 5 Coaching Professional Apprenticeship

Our unique approach supporting aspiring and existing diverse leaders will support you to:

  • engage with your workforce
  • promote active listening skills
  • deepen your understanding of what motivates teams
  • improve staff retention
  • support other aspiring or existing diverse leaders 

The 12 month apprenticeship programme is delivered online including an End Point Assessment.

The Level 5 Coaching Professional Apprenticeship enables learners to work towards a nationally recognised qualification that meets coaching professional body standards (ICF, EMCC and Association of Coaching). The coaching professional standard has been created by leading organisations with existing coaching cultures and expertise in leadership.

Selection of company logos

Figure 1. Organisations who created the coaching standard

In a group dedicated solely to Diverse Educators, you will cover coaching disciplines such as:

  • how to plan and structure coaching sessions;
  • cognitive behaviour techniques to reframe limiting beliefs;
  • principles of neurolinguistic programming;
  • schools of psychology such as Carl Rogers, Gestalt and Freud;
  • leadership theory and change management;
  • managing and celebrating diversity in your coaching practice;
  • ethics and professional codes of conduct for coaches as well as how to demonstrate return on investment to stakeholders.

Over 12 months you will be provided with the tools you need to create a coaching model tailored to organisational needs.

Our #DiverseEd cohort will also have the unique opportunity to attend additional #DiverseEd sessions with Hannah Wilson to explore diversity, equity and inclusion in coaching further. 

Coaching Professional Level 5 Pathway

Figure 2. The Coaching Learning Journey

The apprenticeship requires the application of coaching skills in the workplace which will be tailored to fit into your day-to-day job role. Coaching apprentices will receive wrap around support throughout the year so they can apply their coaching skills in the workplace. Many of our current apprentices are using their coaching skills to develop different aspects of education such as:

  • teaching and learning
  • behaviour and attitudes
  • well-being and leadership.

Ongoing careers guidance and support for apprentices includes attending a range of webinars delivered by expert coaches which demonstrate how your coaching skills support career advancement. In addition, there will be plenty of opportunities to develop personally through CVP’s well-being events, an online community and learning forum as well as your bespoke personal development plan, including an opportunity to win our Easter fitness hamper with CVP’s annual spring into fitness competition.

The #DiverseEd Coaching Community

We are building a #DiverseEd coaching community which will be the first of its kind.

We know the current coaching landscape in Education is not representative of the leaders it serves so we want to upskill educators as coaches in our community to empower each other.

CVP Coaching apprentices will be the first to pilot a funded coaching programme for the #DiverseEd community, where CVP coaching apprentices will have an opportunity to join the #DiverseEd Coaching directory. 

The inaugural cohort will run October 2024 and we anticipate that places will be in high demand.

What Attendees are Saying About Us

Here’s what our current trainee coaches have to say about the programme:

“This course has been the perfect opportunity to keep learning and development at the heart of what I’m doing. It’s extremely well organised and resourced. Yasmin’s care, expertise and passion ensures we as the participants are motivated and supported every step of the way.” 

Claire, Senior Leader Education.

“Great session, the demonstration where we got to see it in action was really powerful to have that practical example. It is about simple steps being done well. You have to learn the art (which can be complex) and then not let it cloud your basic best practice.” 

Apprentice, Masterclass 2.

“The level 5 professional coaching course was thoroughly enjoyable and purposeful. I refined skills that were instantly transferable to the workplace but also deepened my reflective practice to understand how my own principles surface at work. I felt fully prepared going into to EPA and confident enough to show off my portfolio. Lots of elements in the portfolio I still use in my coaching sessions today. The course complemented full-time employment in education and didn’t seem too laborious as all the tasks seemed purposeful.” 

Rosie, Assistant Headteacher

Join Us in October 2024!

To be eligible for funding you must meet the following criteria:

  • Work 16 hours or more per week;
  • Have lived in the UK / EU for 3 years or more prior to enrolment;
  • Spend over 50% of your working week in England;
  • Have a contract of employment.

Are you interested but not in employment? Do you live outside England? We are pleased to open this programme to diverse leaders beyond England on a self-funded basis. If you would like to have a conversation with one of the team at CVP Group to find out more, reach out to sarah@cvpgroup.co.uk

What Next?

Whether you have made your mind up or would just like to find out more about the course content, please complete the Register of Interest Form that #DiverseEd will send you and our coaching engagement team will contact you to set up a meeting.

I will be delivering a large part of the programme. With over 20 years’ experience in schools, I am looking forward to reconnecting with leaders to create powerful coaching cultures in schools.

To find out more about my own journey as a leader in education, visit my website here.


Safeguarding Inclusion: Nurturing Diversity in Educational Settings

Caroline Anukem portrait

Written by Caroline Anukem

Caroline Anukem is Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Lead at Beaconsfield High School in the UK. She is a driving force, a change-maker, and a relentless advocate for equity.

In the intricate cosmopolitan British society, the journey of being black and British often interconnects with the educational landscape in profound ways. From the halls of primary schools to the lecture theatres of universities, the quest for inclusion and diversity shapes the experiences of students and educators alike. As someone who has navigated this first-hand, I have come to understand the vital role that practice and policy play in safeguarding the well-being and success of every individual within these institutions.

Reflecting on my own educational journey, I recall moments of both triumph and tribulation. From the early days of primary school to the complexities of university life, I encountered an array of challenges and opportunities that shaped my sense of self and belonging. In the midst of this journey, the importance of representation and inclusivity became abundantly clear. Seeing individuals who looked like me in positions of authority and influence instilled a sense of pride and possibility, while the absence of diverse perspectives served as a reminder of the work that still needed to be done.

When I applied for the role of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Lead. Initially, it struck me as a novel and innovative approach to promoting inclusivity within the educational setting. However, as I delved deeper into the role and its implications, I came to realise the profound parallels between EDI and safeguarding.

Just as safeguarding measures are in place to protect the physical and emotional well-being of students, EDI initiatives serve to safeguard the diversity and inclusion of all individuals within the educational community. From ensuring that curriculum materials reflect a diverse range of perspectives to implementing policies that promote equality of opportunity, the role of an EDI Lead is multifaceted and far-reaching.

In many ways, the principles of safeguarding and EDI are intertwined. Both prioritise the creation of safe and supportive environments where individuals feel valued, respected, and empowered to thrive. Just as safeguarding protocols employ a triage system to prioritise the most urgent needs of students, EDI initiatives must also adopt a strategic and targeted approach to address the unique challenges and barriers faced by marginalised communities.

One of the most profound benefits of a truly inclusive and diverse educational environment is the transformative impact it has on individuals and communities. When students see themselves reflected in the curriculum, when they encounter diverse perspectives and experiences in the classroom, it enhances a sense of belonging, wellbeing and empowerment which will ultimately correlate to improved academic achievement. It cultivates empathy, resilience, and a deep appreciation for the richness of human diversity.

As an EDI Lead, my role is not just about implementing policies and practices; it is about embedding a culture of inclusivity and respect that permeates every aspect of school life. It is about amplifying the voices of marginalised communities, challenging systemic barriers, and championing the rights of every individual to learn and thrive in a safe and supportive environment.

The journey towards creating truly inclusive and diverse educational settings is a collective endeavour that requires commitment, collaboration, and courage. This has prompted Beaconsfield High School (BHS) to take the bold step of hosting our first EDI conference in April this year. We will focus on highlighting the parallels between safeguarding and EDI. We will strive to communicate better understanding of the interconnectedness of these principles and the profound impact they have on the well-being and success of students. 

In conclusion, the journey from the simplicity of my village education in Liverpool to the vibrant inclusivity of BHS is a testament to our progress. Yet, it serves as a reminder of how much further we can go. As an EDI Lead, my commitment is to develop a learning environment thriving on differences, not just educating minds but nurturing hearts, building lasting friendships, relationships and encompassing the British Values in our daily practices. The journey toward a more inclusive and equitable educational landscape continues, one story at a time.


Empowering PSHE Leadership: Leading with DEI Principles

Malarvilie Krishnasamy portrait

Written by Malarvilie Krishnasamy

Malarvilie is a seasoned leadership consultant, coach, and trainer with over 20 years of experience in education. As a former history teacher and senior leader, she passionately advocates for coaching as a catalyst for transforming school cultures. Malarvilie offers accredited courses, endorsed by The Institute of Leadership, which develop emotional intelligence and assertive leadership skills. Her reflective and supportive programmes enhance staff morale and well-being, promoting humanity in leadership. A vocal proponent of equity, diversity, and inclusion, she actively engages as an ally through speaking engagements, workshops, and amplifying the work of others. Malarvilie is also deeply committed to promoting Personal, Social, Health, and Economic (PSHE) education, recognising its pivotal role in nurturing well-rounded individuals.

I’m excited to tackle a topic that’s not just important but essential in education: leading PSHE with a DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) lens. As educators, we know that PSHE isn’t just about teaching facts; it’s about nurturing well-rounded individuals who are equipped to navigate the complexities of life. That’s why it’s crucial to infuse DEI principles into our PSHE curriculum, acknowledging and respecting the diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences of our students. Join me as we explore how embracing DEI principles can transform PSHE education and create a more inclusive learning environment for all.

In many cultures, discussions about puberty, relationships, and sexual education may not happen at home. This leaves young people to rely solely on their friends or inaccurate information from the internet. This highlights the importance of PSHE education as a reliable source of accurate information. By providing comprehensive and inclusive PSHE/RSE in schools, we can ensure that all young people have access to the correct information, regardless of their background or cultural context.

Moreover, fostering an inclusive environment in PSHE lessons creates a safe space where students feel comfortable discussing their experiences and asking questions. This helps break down barriers and ensures that every student feels valued and supported in their journey through puberty and relationships, not just in terms of biological changes but also emotional and social aspects.

But leading PSHE isn’t just about delivering lessons; it’s about cultivating a whole-school approach to well-being and inclusivity. This involves considering staff values and providing them with comprehensive training sessions to navigate sensitive topics effectively, ensuring alignment with the values of the school, the curriculum, and the 2010 Equality Act. Staff members, while bringing their own values, must understand and adhere to the principles outlined in the Act, which mandates the promotion of equality and diversity within educational settings. 

Additionally, understanding local and national statistics regarding teenage health issues, such as drug use, alcohol misuse, underage sex, lack of condom use for teenagers, and teenage pregnancies, equips educators with evidence to emphasise the importance of PSHE education. By sharing this information and ensuring staff awareness of their duty as PSHE teachers within the British curriculum, we can empower them to confidently and effectively deliver PSHE education, thereby supporting the well-being of our students.

But PSHE leaders often get left out in the cold. Schools know PSHE is important, but they don’t always give leaders training to lead effectively. 

The challenges faced by PSHE leaders extend beyond traditional teaching roles. Effective communication with staff, parents, and students is paramount, but the support in developing these skills often falls through the cracks. PSHE is a whole school subject. Unlike other subjects, it’s rare to have dedicated PSHE teachers, and leaders must coordinate a diverse group of educators, each with their primary subject expertise. This aspect is often underappreciated, with a mere 1 management point failing to reflect the intricacies of PSHE leadership.

Additionally, the unique pedagogy required for PSHE is often overlooked in training programs, preventing the ability to deliver PSHE effectively. It’s time to invest in the professional development of our PSHE leaders.

That’s where the Level 5 Inclusive and Progressive Leadership of PSHE Course comes in—a comprehensive solution to bridge these gaps. This course equips PSHE leaders with the skills, knowledge, and awareness needed to excel in their roles. From diplomacy and communication to the unique pedagogy of PSHE, this program addresses every facet of effective PSHE leadership.

Conclusion

Leading PSHE with a DEI lens is not just a responsibility; it’s a commitment to creating a safe, inclusive, and empowering learning environment for all students. By incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion into our approach to PSHE, we ensure that every young person receives the support and education they need to navigate the challenges of puberty, relationships, and well-being. 

Equipping staff with the necessary training and awareness of their duties under the 2010 Equality Act empowers them to deliver PSHE education effectively, promoting the health and well-being of our students. Let’s continue to champion a holistic approach to PSHE leadership, where every student feels valued, respected, and supported in their journey toward adulthood.

Click HERE to download your free PSHE DEI self-assessment!

Click HERE to download your free KS2 or KS3 Diverse Perspectives self-assessment!

Also for further resources have a look at the The Diverse Educators’ Inclusive RSHE Toolkit – Inclusive RSHE Toolkit | Diverse Educators We are collating a growing bank of resources to help you to review and develop how inclusive the RSHE provision is in your school. 

 

 


Holistic Education for Diversity and Inclusion as Competitive Advantage for Prosperity

Harold Deigh portrait

Written by Harold Deigh

Harold Deigh is an Educator and burgeoning Entrepreneur, qualified in International Business & Management / Economic and Social Policy / PGCE PCET (Post-compulsory Education and Training). His education, like most, includes lived experiences and circumstances, differences and intersections and indelible input of our five senses. His training and teaching experience in IGCSE Business, Humanities, Pastoral care, PSHE, SMSC, Citizenship, Health and Social Care and Well-being. Likewise, he is conversant in Value creation, Sustainability, ICT in Global Society (ITGS), Digital and Financial literacy, Global Holistic education, Customer relationship and Customer service.

It is good to know that life is a relationship – a series of shared moments. Moments of gratitude that we have a wonderful world, beautiful people, we belong, we overcome, with joy to enjoy, through the good education of attitude of appreciation and affection, conscious action and outcomes.

Duty and responsibility, like diversity, calls for accountability. We need to educate well and engage more. We learn, yearn and earn for a good quality of life, lifestyle and existence. To survive, manage and cope with our mental, physical, social and cultural, financial, environmental (natural and physical) health and well-being chores. But most importantly, to prevent and protect, safeguard and uphold such fundamental values of shared humanity and care of habitat (between and within countries) and its efficacious notion to serve and be served for prosperity and posterity. 

The case for Holistic Education (HolEd) in helping understand Diversity and Inclusion (perhaps as seen in symbiotic nature of Biodiversity or Interdependency or Relationship), is inspiration to support a framework as a guide to better positive decision-making, problem-solving and finding right or good solutions. It employs Sustainable Enterprise, Computational Thinking, Input-Process-Outcome methods, benefits of ICT and Artificial Intelligence (AI), Sustainability Accounting, Social media, News and Information – that ensures carrying out significant but sensible power of responsibility (…that ‘Power is Responsibility and Accountability’). Engaging due diligence and duty of care, with commendable onus to humanity and habitat. We are bonded in our human traits to good quality of Life, Lifestyle, Livelihood, Liberty, Love, and Alive to enjoy the beauty and goodness they bring, and a gratifying, satisfying life of coexistence, well-being and wellness of mind, body and spirit. Recent research – THE POWER OF HOLISTIC EDUCATION – Bold News (boldnewsonline.com) May 30, 2023,  highlights this.

Good knowledge of the importance and benefits of diversity and inclusion (especially as a competitive advantage (The Importance Of Diversity And Inclusion For Today’s Companies (forbes.com)– 03/03/2023) is relevant to business bottom line in particular, and society in general. I engage to explore this through the lenses of HolEd. But also embarking on creating and promoting, a comprehensive, and constructive Global Holistic Education Study Programme and Seminars of existing published accredited and approved educational resources and guides  of awareness and appreciation of ‘Good and Valued Education’ and ‘A Better Life…a Better World’ pedagogy. This includes better understanding and empowering of HolEd, addressing and raising awareness of contemporary issues, changes and challenges.

Our task is to show and evidence that HolEd is worth exploring in how to proceed to successfully manage Life, Business and Society, including esteem Fundamental British Values (FBV) of: Democracy; Rule of Law; Liberty; Respect and recognition, both tolerated and celebrated, in institutions, individuals and business entities. Otherwise, its discouragement or slow demise is indicative we are against it and thus harbour unhelpful and toxic consequences for many. I particularly treasure the knowledge acquired in PCET as invaluable, especially learning, unlearning and relearning topics on:

  • Issues, Policies and Values (IPV)
  • Managing the Learning Environment (MLE)
  • Supporting and Tutoring Learners(STL)
  • Teaching, Learning and Assessment(TLA)
  • Emotional Intelligence Leadership

I seek to develop and engage with others, creating an all-round beneficial educational experience of importance, value and worth, with policies, processes and procedures regarding Holistic health, Wealth and Wellness, Nutritious food for our Energy source and sustenance (food for thought!). We thus embrace Fundamental Universal Values, and C21st skills for future prosperity, and good knowledge on survival for sustainable and inclusive successful business and enterprise models. A mantra of ‘No harm, hurt or hate’ to self or others and awareness, appreciation and effective and efficient means to learning, ensuring principled judgements and learning in the philosophy of UBUNTU – “I am because you are”. A conscious relationship has knowledge of good thoughts, intentions, actions and anticipated outcomes. 

Physicians are made to “…first, do no Harm” – the Hippocratic oath. Society must emulate further: no harm; no hate; no hurt; no hostility or humiliation. Challenging times and daily chores come and go, so does rampage, anger and rage.  As ‘valued educators’ we can courageously and confidently contest and seek to cancel amongst others, the Ills of society, misguided values, bad role models, stereotyping, by addressing and preventing the causes of these. But ensure society is imbued with the indelible disposition to heal, help, capture, cultivate, collaborate, celebrate humanity with co-existence of culture, commUnity, sustainAbility and harmony as we grow to, love and adore, create and appreciate, give and serve, care and share. There is such a thing as society… consciously functioning with humility and hope, to create, produce, sustain value and worth of a beautiful world and wonderful people…the opportunity of presence, acknowledgement and participation of individuals with varying backgrounds and perspectives, embracing our concerted successes from good education, accomplishments and achievements.


Seeing the Unseen

Tyrone Sinclair portrait

Written by Tyrone Sinclair

Tyrone is deputy headteacher of Addey & Stanhope School in London. He was a contributor to the BBC Teach resource, Supporting care-experienced children.

A significant majority of educators are drawn to the profession because they aspire to be catalysts for change. However, they are often taken aback by the limitations they encounter as they grapple with the multifaceted aspects of the profession. Change through support is a very delicate skill, one often not covered thoroughly whilst training, but it necessitates intentional leadership at an institutional level. Nonetheless, educators possess a unique liberty in that we are all leaders, regardless of our level of authority. We all possess the capacity to foster safety and facilitate opportunities for change within our respective spheres of influence, whether it be in our classrooms, through the curriculum, parental engagement, meetings, trips, and so forth – the possibilities are endless.

We are currently living in one of the most inclusive eras in human history. Whilst this allows for celebration, it also compels us to delve deeper and consider who is being included. Whose voices are being marginalised? Whose experiences are being disregarded? Who is seen and who is unseen? Ultimately, how is equity being applied in these circumstances?

The fight for inclusivity is a pursuit of social justice that extends far beyond the confines of the classroom. Its effects can be recognised and rewarded on a global scale. Although we may be making progress towards inclusive equity, it is important to acknowledge that not all spaces prioritise safety or consideration for all individuals. Education, therefore, is an embodiment of social justice as it endeavours to address the various inequalities that exist within society by creating opportunities and explicitly striving to provide equal opportunities for all.

This raises the question – what can I, as an educator, do? Amidst the external pressures, deadlines, targets, and ever-expanding job description, how can I make a meaningful change?

I believe the answer lies not in what can be done, but rather in how it can be done. I have been challenging educators to reconsider the spaces they create for safety. I urge them to contemplate the most vulnerable student who may ever enter their classrooms. Consider all the safeguarding concerns, whether they are rooted in familial or contextual factors. Reflect on the experiences these students have endured not only throughout their short lives, but even on that very morning. Contemplate the sacrifices and who they have to leave at the door just so they can walk into your space and conform.

Care-experienced young people are often among the most vulnerable individuals we encounter. The range of experiences they may have endured is vast, but more often than not, these experiences are far from ideal. Imagine the worst possible scenario. Consider the impact this must have on their worldview and how this trauma manifests itself in their thoughts, pathology, behaviours, and even their physical wellbeing. Now, take into account the intersectionalities that these young people may identify with. How much more challenging would it be for those from marginalised groups? How would you connect with such a young person? How would you welcome them into your space? What measures would you put in place to support, encourage, reassure, and protect them? How would you guide them if things went awry? Undoubtedly, your approach would be thoughtful, compassionate, and considerate. We know that for every vulnerable young person we are aware of and deem worthy of intervention, there are countless others who remain unknown and unsupported. Moreover, the strain on resources and support services makes it even more arduous for marginalised groups to access the help they need. Thus, your approach and support as an educator are pivotal to the safety and wellbeing of these young people, as your intervention may be the only kind they receive. Consequently, every interaction becomes an opportunity for intervention.

The experience of marginalised groups is to be unseen. This is often unintentional, but it is undeniably systemic and institutionalised. As educators, we are on the frontlines, and it is our duty to intentionally see what the world chooses to ignore. We must consciously consider worldviews and experiences that may differ fundamentally from our own. We must be intentional about change.

What can care-experienced young people teach us?

Acknowledging the unseen requires us to not only consider young people who have experienced care, but also challenges us to broaden our considerations even before they enter the system. Many care-experienced young people were once students in someone’s classroom, often unseen and unnoticed. However, we have the privilege of seeing the unseen and deliberately choosing to create safety for them within the spaces we control and have influence over.

For more information about the BBC Teach resource, Supporting care-experienced children, please visit https://tinyurl.com/ywykzd5h