It is about time Initial Teacher Training and Education embraced diversity and inclusion

Davinder Dosanjh portrait

Written by Davinder Dosanjh

Executive Director Leicestershire Secondary SCITT

Thirty-five years in education as a teacher, senior leader, Her Majesty’s Inspector, senior lecturer, teacher educator, I had hoped we would have moved much further forward when we talk about Diversity, Equity and inclusion. I am still not seeing Initial Teacher Training and Education embracing the diverse voices and representing BAME. The decision makers and those on the working groups advising the Department for Education, are the same white faces, from the same organisations.

Policies and initiatives such as the Core Content Framework, Early Careers Framework, have missed opportunities to embed diversity. We are still wedded to the Teachers’ Standards. Teacher Standard 3 and Part 2 of the Teachers’ Standards make no strong statements about embedding diversity, equity and inclusion. The Core Content Framework and Early Career Framework opportunities have merely amplified the Teachers’ Standards into ‘Learn that..’ and ‘Learn how to..’ statements. Examples of systemic racism. These frameworks are a minimum entitlement, so they imply diversity is not part of that prerogative.

Those that train teachers are predominantly, white and middle class. I have been involved with teacher training at a university and a SCITT. Whilst working with both organisations I have asked and sought to be on national bodies which represent these sectors. Never managed to get through the red tape and procedures which maintain the institutional racism. I am just as qualified, have the experience and the track record. Still working out what I am doing wrong or to flip it the other way, what are these national organisations doing which perpetuate these barriers? You have got to be voted on, seconded and then your mates vote you in because you have had the time to network with them. Time to re-examine the criteria for national bodies, working parties, time to have a transformation, give others a voice.

If you have been on a national working group, advisory once, you are to be commended, then pass the baton onto someone else. Insist these groups are diverse and heard at a strategic level. 

We need to undertake a more wide-ranging review at the trainee’s journey from pre-application, application, interview, the programme and actual training experience. We need to ask ourselves some critical questions. Then follow the sequence of auditing, action planning, accountability and assessing impact. A starting point are some self-assessment questions below:

Pre-application

Is the marketing diverse and showing a range of positive diverse role-models?

Are we appealing to a diverse range of communities, using a range of networks (Asian radio) not just the traditional career fairs, university, school events?

Application

Who interviews?

Are all interviewers trained beyond safer recruitment, such as Diversity training?

Do we interrogate the data? (those made an offer, rejected, reasons why)

Teacher Educator and Placements

Who are the teacher educators?

Are they diverse?

Can we talent spot and seek out diverse teacher educators?

Are we carefully matching the right teacher educator to the trainee?

How do we deal with any issues of discrimination?

Curriculum

What is the golden thread of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?

Where is it? What is it?

Who is delivering/facilitating?

Are the role models diverse?

Do we share the mic and encourage allyship?

Evaluation and Quality Assurance

Are the trainee’s voices being heard?

What questions are we asking about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?

Governance

Is the Steering/Partnership Group diverse?

How can we seek out colleagues from our partner schools to be part of the group?

Is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion a regular agenda item?

I would hope we have moved forward and that any teaching training provider, whether school or university could not ignore a trainee being called a ‘paki’ by pupils like I was. Despite me raising objections, I was told to get on with it, despite this being a regular occurrence. We have policies and procedures to formally report such incidents which were not in place when I undertook my training. More importantly, great communities such as Diverse Educators and BAMEed Network.

I am proud to say the Leicestershire Secondary SCITT has increased the diversity of its cohort from 29% in 2015 to 49% in 2020.

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How do we deal with racism in the classroom?

Hannah Wilson portrait

Written by Hannah Wilson

Founder of Diverse Educators

So, what do you do, as a teacher, when a student uses a racial slur against you in the online classroom?

This week I had a disclosure in a NQT training session I was hosting from a trainee teacher. The trainee was a woman of colour. She was distressed as she shared an incident from her week at school and asked for advice. She shared that in a lesson with her Year 10s last week, whilst using the platform Kahoot, one of her students referred to her using the N word. She broke down as she finished her story and turned her camera off to gather herself. The zoom room went quiet. Everyone looked deeply uncomfortable. I watched everyone take a breath and pause to see who would speak first.

One of the facilitators, a woman of colour,  unmuted herself and said: “I am sorry. I am really sorry that happened to you”. She went on to share her advice on what the NQT could do. Her co-facilitator, a man of colour, added his advice on how he would handle it if it happened to him. Both gave sound advice, but it struck me that it was centred around what the individual, the victim, should do. It is also struck me that both were talking from a position of lived experience.

As a former teacher trainer, I was aggrieved on her behalf that she had experienced this. As a human being, I was outraged that anyone would think that using a word was acceptable. As a teacher, and a former Headteacher, I was disappointed to hear how the school had handled it. As a white person I was embarrassed and felt sick. Having reported it to her mentor, who had rung her that night to check in, she had been told that they (the school) could not identify the student responsible and she had been advised to send an email (herself!) to the class about the incident.

I was horrified at this response from the school. Why are schools asking the victims of racism to deal with it themselves? Moreover, an early career teacher at that? Why were the SLT not dealing with this racial abuse to show the severity of the situation?

I chipped in and advised that she should escalate it to the SLT responsible for behaviour. That if she did not get a satisfactory response, that she should be escalating it to the Headteacher directly and to consider contacting her union. I DMed her my email address and offered to support in her challenging this failure of the school to protect her. The next day I received an email from her professional tutor assuring me that it had been dealt with internally and that the NQT was being supported the next lesson and that the DHT would be calling each student in the class to identify the culprit.

But the incident has been bothering me ever since… How many other people of colour who have entered  our profession are navigating how to deal with prejudice themselves? Who else is being failed by their school and by the system? Who else is feeling isolated, vulnerable and unsupported?

I tweeted out the scenario to see what others thought and how common place this is. You can see the thread with a myriad of responses here.

Below is a summary of the different perspectives on the situation of a teacher being racially abused by a student:

  1. The teacher should be offered support.
  2. The student should be offered support.
  3. The incident needs a full investigation.
  4. The class should all be asked to write a witness statement.
  5. The student should receive a Fixed Term Exclusion.
  6. The student should have a Permanent Exclusion.
  7. The whole class should be sanctioned.
  8. The incident should be recorded as a racist incident in the school’s racist log.
  9. The governing body should be informed.
  10. The incident should be reported to the LA.
  11. The next lesson should be replaced with an Anti-Racism workshop for the class.
  12. The class should be issued with an Anti-Racism contract.
  13. The parent/ carer should be brought in for a meeting.
  14. The student should write the teacher a letter of apology.
  15. The student/ teacher should have a restorative conversation before the next lesson.
  16. The student should be removed from the class.
  17. The community police officer should be involved.
  18. The student should receive an intervention prior to returning to the next lesson.
  19. The student should sign a behaviour contract on re-entry.
  20. The online teaching/ behaviour expectations should be reinforced to the class.
  21. The behaviour policy should be reviewed for how it tackles racism.
  22. The trainee teacher’s mentor should intervene.
  23. The SLT should attend the next lesson to speak to the class and re-establish boundaries.
  24. The year group should have an assembly on prejudice and discrimination.
  25. The next citizenship / PSHE lesson for the year group should deal with racism.

25 possible and probable actions that should take place to ensure that this member of staff feels safe and is supported, moreover, that another member of staff is not subjected to racial abuse in this school.

But other questions were also raised around the context of the incident:

  • Where do we draw the line at explicit and deliberate racism in our school?
  • How are ITTE providers preparing trainee teachers to deal with prejudice?
  • How are schools supporting NQTs with dealing with discrimination?
  • Should schools be using platforms where you cannot identify students?
  • Should all lessons be recorded so that incidents can be reviewed?
  • Should early career teachers be delivering solo lessons?
  • If the N word is in an extract should the teacher say it out loud? Is it ever okay to use the N word if it is in a teaching resource? Does it make a difference if the teacher saying it is a person of colour?
  • How is the curriculum being reviewed to tackle prejudice?
  • How is the culture of the school being reviewed to educate the students about expectations?
  • How has the mentor been trained to support a NQT from a diverse background?
  • How have the SLT been trained to deal with racism?
  • What is the school’s behaviour policy for prejudice?

There were a lot of comments about attacks based on characteristics being on the increase in our schools, and also in our society. In fact, I have seen several posts on LinkedIn and Twitter this weekend from educators sharing that they have been racially abused at work, but also about people of colour being racially abused in the street.

There were several concerns about the anonymity of online platforms meaning that teaching staff are not protected. Moreover, that there is more room for students to push boundaries. We need to remember that diversity, equity and inclusion work is part of our safeguarding responsibility. Every member of our school community needs to feel physically and psychologically safe.

There is clearly a lot of work for us to do across the system, across the curriculum with both children and staff, around addressing discomfort and intolerance. This incident is indicative of a wider, deeper piece of work that needs to be done. We can sanction the incident in the short term, but how do we prevent it from happening again in the long term?

We all need to be angry at this behaviour no matter what our skin colour. We all need to be part of the solution and take collective responsibility for creating change. We all need to challenge the institutions, the policies and the practices that do not protect people. We all need to speak out, stand up and not only state that this is not okay, but also do something about it by holding others to account.

So, the question should have been: what do you do, as a school, when a student uses a racial slur against a teacher in the online classroom?

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Diverse Educators: A Manifesto

Hannah Wilson portrait

Written by Hannah Wilson

Founder of Diverse Educators

In August 2020, at the end of the first UK lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, Bennie and I sat in the sun in my garden, down the road from the school that we had started together a few years previous and we drafted a proposal for a book. We had met through Twitter and #WomenEd 5 years before that, we were both English teachers and secondary school leaders, we are both feminists who are passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion in the school system. When I secured my headship, Bennie applied to my Deputy Headteacher, and led on our values-based  curriculum with diversity and equality embedded across it. A regular topic of conversation in the time we worked together was about the books we were reading and the books we were going to write, individually and together. We knew it would happen one day! 

 

Many of you will know that Bennie is the reason Diverse Educators was started, she came to my office one day and shared her frustration with me at having to split herself multiple ways to go to different events each weekend to explore her intersectional identity. I checked my privilege as a heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied white woman and reflected on this. We discussed the idea of hosting one event and inviting the communities from #WomenEd, #BAMEEd, #LGBTed and #DisabilityEd to come together, at the same time, under one roof to have a joined up conversation about identity. Our inaugural Diverse Educators event was in January 2018, at which #LGBTed officially launched  and Bennie closed the grassroots event with a powerful message: ‘Don’t Tuck in Your Labels’. 

 

Fast forward three years and Bennie is now a Deputy Headteacher at an all-through school where she is leading on curriculum and I am working independently as a Leadership Development Consultant, Facilitator and Coach specialising in diversity, equity and inclusion. We launched the Diverse Educators website, with the help of our partners, in the middle of a global pandemic in response to the spotlight on racial inequities, and the amplification of Black Lives Matters, triggered by George Floyd’s murder. At our first virtual event in June 2020, we were joined by over thirteen thousand people. 

 

The world has finally woken up to the need for social justice, society can no longer ignore it and the school system can no longer not prioritise the urgent need to embed the diversity, equity and inclusion agenda strategically into our schools. Bennie has recently published her first book: A Little Guide For Teachers: Diversity in Schools and we are now inviting the #DiverseEd community to lean in and contribute to our book: Diverse Educators: A Manifesto.    

 

Our book will be structured, like our website, around the Equalities Act. There will be ten chapters, one for each of the nine Protected Characteristics (Age; Disability; Gender Reassignment; Pregnancy and Maternity; Marriage and Civil Partnership; Race; Religion and Belief; Sex; Sexual Orientation) with a tenth chapter exploring intersectionality.

 

Each chapter will have a chapter editor who will work with ten contributors offering a multiplicity of perspectives on the protected characteristic being explored in the chapter. Each submission will be 1200-1500 words long. Each contributor will interweave personal and professional narrative, framed in theory, to respond to current and historic debates. The chapter editor will write the introduction to the chapter to give context and to frame the chapter’s narratives, arguments and provocations.  

 

We are committed to capturing the collective voice of our community and to showcasing the diverse lived experiences of educators. We are keen for Diverse Educators: A Manifesto to be both academic and accessible. You can review the style guide here. We intend for the book to be solutions-focused with high-quality input on practice, pedagogy, people management and policy. 

We would love to hear from you if you would like to contribute. You can submit an expression of interest here. Thank you in advance for your time, energy, experience, expertise and support in contributing to our #DiverseEd book, we are looking forward to celebrating the collective commitment and amplifying your voice. 

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A Reflection on My First Year of Teaching, Inspired by #DiverseEd

Char Aramis portrait

Written by Char Aramis

A primary NQT who uses they/them pronouns. Char blogs at transteacher.wordpress.com

Along with many others, I had the joy of listening (and tweeting!) along to the online #DiverseEd event on 17th October. When Hannah Wilson (@Ethical_Leader) asked me to write a blog response, it took me a while to decide on a subject, but we all know that the best way to improve is to reflect on what we’ve done before, so here is a reflection on my first year of teaching through a lens of diversity and inclusion.

 

I am going to use the things I have learned over the last few months to reflect on the things that I taught and the way that I taught them – specifically topic in terms 1, 2 and 4, because covering everything would make this blog far too long. However, I am still new to this – and to teaching! – so I welcome any additional points or suggestions you may have after reading this. 

 

Because of the topics we studied, most of the issues here relate to race, ethnicity and nationality. For context, we were based in an area in the South West of England where nearly 85% of people were born in the British Isles. Of the rest, a good chunk hail from Poland, with others from Romania, the Philippines, Turkey and Bangladesh making up the rest. In my class, about half of the children had English as an additional language, including children from all of the countries listed above plus one or two others. Roughly two-thirds of them would generally be considered White.

 

So then, let’s get started. As I’m sure many schools did, we ran a Black History topic at the start of the year. Each year group focused on a significant Black person from history and we studied Nelson Mandela. We also briefly mentioned Martin Luther King Jr and Katherine Johnson in an end-of-term art project, which was displayed in the school for the rest of the year.

 

Now, if I recall correctly, these had been decided before I joined the school. Nonetheless, I don’t think I noticed at the time that thing that appears strikingly obvious to me now: none of these figures is from British history. Most of them, as is common in our studies of Black history in British schools, are from the United States and Nelson Mandela is of course from South Africa. I wonder if perhaps this is worse: I expect South Africa – a country that many of these pupils may never have heard of – seems much more remote and less relevant to them than America, which they at least engage with regularly through film and television.

 

We discussed racism and protests and fair treatment, but I certainly lacked the confidence and knowledge to address these subjects in the way they deserved (it was my first ever term of teaching). I do still feel that I would benefit from further training and resources to support this. 

 

If I were to teach Black history as a topic again, I would definitely seek to choose a figure or subject that is more relevant to British history. The Bristol bus boycott or Windrush, for example. If I had to teach Nelson Mandela, I would link it back to racism in the UK around the same time – although we had no official segregation, I could teach about Britain before the Race Relations Act(s) and cases such as that of the marriage between Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams. 

 

Our term 2 topic was extreme weather, specifically tropical storms. We focused on tornadoes and Kansas because we linked this to The Wizard of Oz. There was essentially no representation of any under-represented groups here – focussing for the moment on the topic teaching and not any subjects that are or could be discussed in relation to the book. 

 

In the interests of allowing children to be seen in our curriculum and broadening pupils’ geographical knowledge beyond “the West” (I notice that the National Curriculum for KS2 only requires geographical study of regions of “the United Kingdom, … a European country, and … North or South America”), we perhaps could instead have looked instead at the Philippines, Bangladesh or the Pacific Islands (one child in the class was from Melanesia), which can also experience tornadoes, typhoons and cyclones. The difficulty here I think would be in deciding whether to focus on one over the others and if so, which one. Additionally, it would have been very specific to my class and much less relevant to the parallel classes in the year group. However, it could have been an opportunity for certain pupils to talk about the countries their families come from and perhaps teach their peers something of the language they use at home.

 

In term 4, we studied the Amazon Rainforest. I had planned a lesson on the history of the major city of Manaus, including its (pre-)colonial history and the impacts of the rubber industry, but I never got a chance to deliver it because we closed for lockdown. This is a subject which, I’m sure, deserves more than one lesson but the focus of our topic was actually on the physical geography – rivers and rainforests – as well as map work with a little human geography squeezed in.

 

I never fully finished the plan for this lesson so it’s difficult to evaluate it, but if I were to come back to this topic, I think it is worth considering the perspective from which I tell this history. It is important to show the effects that the arrival of Europeans had on indigenous populations and their home, and to consider the way they were treated. I do think I would probably need some support to do that topic justice.

There is an awful lot more to be considered regarding both the content and approach of my first year of teaching but that will have to wait for future blog posts – probably over on my own blog. Thank you for reading – any comments, feedback or questions are welcomed and encouraged.

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Interactive Diversity Calendar 2021

Dual Frequency logo

Written by Dual Frequency

Dual Frequency is a teaching resource provider that seeks to promote dialogue in relation to inclusion

This December, Dual Frequency is thrilled to share with you a brand new interactive diversity calendar that can be used in schools, education settings and other organisations to ensure you never miss a significant date in the EDI calendar.

Why is the diversity calendar important?

Because diversity matters, every single day! The more we immerse ourselves in diverse groups,  the more we will be able to celebrate positive representation of these groups, and the richer our communities become.

How can you implement the diversity calendar within your organisation?

The diversity calendar includes a mixture of equality, diversity and inclusion related events along with key dates. This is not intended as an exhaustive list. At a glance you can see the key dates that are listed each month, click the date to be signposted to a resource and more information, plus suggestions of how you can celebrate the date.

How does the colour code in the diversity calendar 2021 work?

The calendar is colour coded to the strands of the Equality Act 2010. It is important to value everybody’s contribution to society all year round: far too many communities are so regularly overlooked in the Gregorian calendar. By focusing on the protected characteristics that fall under the Equality Act, our hope is these communities will no longer be overlooked but celebrated in contrast. 

If you require the calendar in a different format, such as large text or on an (accessible) yellow background, then let us know and we will do our best to meet your requirements. 

How do I get my calendar?

 

Download yours right now by clicking this link: https://www.dualfrequency.co.uk/diversity-and-inclusion-calendar-2021

If you are in a position to make a donation for your calendar,  then we appreciate this. It helps to keep a grassroots organisation like Dual Frequency running and makes a huge difference to our community fund which ensures we can pay our contributors for their time and efforts.

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