“Andrew Tate is a father figure to me” - lessons learned from talking to young people in schools

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Written by Bold Voices

Bold Voices is an award-winning social enterprise preparing and empowering school communities to recognise and tackle gender inequality and gender-based violence through the delivery of educational talks, workshops, training and resources for young people, teachers and parents.

On January 3rd, the Bold Voices team arrived for our first staff training of the year. We love delivering staff training in schools, and we were excited to be back, if slightly unprepared for the early start and January rain. The session ran smoothly and the staff were engaged and passionate, all seemed as usual until we asked if there were any questions. Dozens of anxious hands shot up and they all had the same question – what can we do about Andrew Tate?

It wasn’t a surprise to any of the team, especially after the most recent news over the Christmas break, but the number of times his name has come up in schools in January has been unprecedented.

Back in July 2022 we began to hear students talk about Tate, and in order to get ahead of what we could see was a growing issue, Bold Voices released our Parent and Staff Toolkits to equip adults with the skills and confidence to have conversations about the ‘King of Toxic Masculinity’ with the young people in their lives. As the education sector catches up with the fact that this popular figure is not going anywhere anytime soon, we have seen a whole range of approaches to dealing with his popularity amongst teenage boys.

One strategy which we’ve seen is the blanket ban – sanctions for anyone who says his name in school. Another approach is whole school assemblies to speak about the harms of his content and messages. The young people we’ve spoken to don’t feel this works; they either say they feel silenced, or that the school is making too much of it. It is completely understandable that this is how many schools are responding. We certainly don’t have all the answers at Bold Voices, and we are always keen to hear back from other educators and parents who have found effective ways to address this issue (please let us know!) but for now we are encouraging schools to focus on one method that we know can have an impact: starting a conversation.

However, the reality is, these conversations are not easy. Here is a snippet of how they normally go:

“Miss, can I ask you a question? What’s your opinion of Andrew Tate?”

“Well, I’m much more interested in your opinion – what do you think of him?”

“He’s a top G miss. He teaches men how to be men. He makes money. He gets females. He’s a fighter. He is a traditionalist. He has four Bugattis. Those trafficking charges are lies. Those things he says? Taken out of context. Miss, it’s the Matrix. He’s a father figure to me.”

These conversations don’t always feel possible, or respectful, because these young people have internalised the message that anyone arguing against Tate is an idiot, hasn’t woken up to the truth, or they’re simply wrong. This makes it much harder to do our jobs – but we have seen success. In a school which had banned any mention of his name amongst pupils, when we opened up a conversation in a classroom, the feedback we received afterwards was: “I thought Andrew Tate was good but I realised what he does and all the hate against women.”

So what can we do to make more of those conversations successful? How can we move from fear of even starting a conversation, and those that go nowhere, to helping young people to choose for themselves if they want to continue to support Tate and his harmful messages?

Our response is three things (and they’re not easy):


This can feel extremely difficult when the messages Tate puts forward are so explicitly dangerous and incite violence, but the more we condemn his words, the more we play into a right or wrong binary that pushes defensive teenagers even further away. Narratives around the Matrix incorporate the idea that there is a “great lie” going on, and figures like Tate (and Trump and other populists who brand themselves as anti-establishment) use this condemnation to push the idea: “that’s what they want you to think”. Break out of this binary by opening a dialogue and empowering young people to see all sides and opinions and to have the autonomy to make their own decisions about who they follow and believe. The aim should not be to have our children believe everything we believe because it’s scary when they don’t; we want to raise a generation of critical thinkers who can form their own opinions.


This ties into avoiding condemnation – when we stand up and tell young people he is dangerous we give him notoriety and power. Andrew Tate has branded himself as the antidote to cancel culture, so his popularity is not tied to his morality. Not only that, his messaging around gender roles mean that he can discredit those who speak out against him with misogynistic myths – case in point, I asked a student if he would stop liking him if Tate was convicted for the trafficking charges and he said “well, the women are probably just lying for money and attention.”

Attempts to laugh at Andrew Tate have been more successful in damaging his reputation than pointing out how dangerous he is. The closest to this that I’ve seen is this twitch streamer’s video and Greta Thunberg’s infamous tweet. What I don’t like about these tactics is that they use old tropes of emasculation to put a pin in his puffed up performance of masculinity. Relying on his tools to tear him down won’t create meaningful change in the long run (we’ll just see a newer version of him spring up to his place).


This brings us to the most important point – we need to change what questions we’re asking about Andrew Tate – instead of asking “what can we do about him?” we need to ask “what is it about him?” And “what is it about this current climate that allows his version of masculinity to thrive?”

His brand of masculinity is what draws people towards him: words like traditional, realist, role model for how to be a man. To most adults he looks like a cartoon of all the most ridiculous tropes of toxic masculinity; the cars, the money, the ideas about mental health. The alleged trafficking of women, the misogyny. So when we’ve looked at why he’s so popular the next question needs to be, what is the context and climate that means he is appealing?

When having these conversations I like to zoom right in, then all the way out. Instead of arguing his actual points with evidence or debating his intentions, I ask questions about what he represents, then look at the bigger picture, and ask why is that appealing right now?

The context in which boys are gravitating towards Andrew Tate is one in which they feel victimised and powerless. As an educator in the gender-based violence sector this can feel frustrating. But ignoring it and saying, “suck it up”, men have had power since the beginning of time, is not helping anyone.

Conversations around violence against women have completely transformed since I was at school less than 10 years ago. In a way that we can see paralleled with the movement for racial justice, conversations around gender-based violence have been radically shifted by events of the past decade: The #MeToo movement, Everyone’s Invited, Ofsted investigations, Sarah Everard’s death and many more. It’s confusing for young people.

Girls, trans and non-binary pupils have more awareness and knowledge than ever (thank you TikTok) about the ways in which they are victimised within a culture of gender-based violence. And they still suffer many different forms of this. But boys feel under siege too. They feel more under threat of being falsely accused than ever. Andrew Tate offers them a different narrative from the one in which they feel they’ve been cast as the baddies. There are no alternative models of masculinity on offer. We go into schools and tell young people that what Andrew Tate puts forward is an unrealistic stereotype of masculinity that ultimately harms everyone. Sometimes they see that, but when we exist in a system that punishes those who don’t fit a stereotype, we construct a reality where it is preferable to be an Andrew Tate rather than a man who can express his emotions and show weakness and vulnerability.

The quote at the beginning says it all. “Andrew Tate is a father figure”. This is how teenage boys feel when there aren’t any other role models for masculinity that seem valuable in today’s world.

The options are; see the problem with masculinity and try your best to not embody it, or go sit with Andrew, the realist, who can show you how to stop apologising for being a man in a world where stereotypes are just ‘the way things are supposed to be’. 

As educators on this subject we can tell you that having these conversations on the ground is hard work. It’s a painful slog that feels unrelenting and sometimes futile. Watching boys copy his physical stance, treat me with suspicion, shout down my logic and questions and cling to their idolisation of him makes me realise something; they are clinging tightly because he makes them feel safe and understood. And taking that away is difficult and can feel cruel when we aren’t offering good enough alternatives. If it was anybody but Tate, I would never question a vulnerable year 9 boy’s father figure and role model. I’m so glad he has that. I wish it wasn’t one who would teach him that depression isn’t real, that he should value women as possessions, and that his worth is measured in what he can win, and how dominating he can be. I want to give him a hug.


1- Talk about him, don’t condemn him. At Bold Voices we will keep going into schools and having these conversations. And if you have young people in your life please use our toolkits to start having these conversations too. This part is the intervention and it’s more necessary than ever. The aim is not to condemn and create a right or wrong, it’s to open a dialogue where there is more than one narrative to choose from.

2- Make Tate uncool – but not him specifically and not through emasculation. Instead through promoting other role models of masculinity who seem more appealing than Tate. We look to people like Marcus Rashford, Stormzy, and Steph Curry (get in touch if you have others you promote!)

3- Look at the conditions that make Tate popular. Ask questions and don’t stop asking.



Bold Voices is an award-winning social enterprise preparing and empowering school communities to recognise and tackle gender inequality and gender-based violence. 

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A Mother Tongue: Not a Metric of Disadvantage

Elen Jones portrait

Written by Elen Jones

Director at Ambition Institute. Former teacher in South London and West Wales.

We celebrate International Mother Language Day on 21st February.  Let’s re-frame the discourse around EAL and celebrate the wealth that comes with being multi-lingual rather than considering those who have EAL as deprived because of it.

I had a great aunt who once explained to me why she didn’t teach her children to speak her mother tongue: Welsh.  She was a passionate educator, a teacher all her working life and she supported me in applying to and eventually attending university.  She believed that learning Welsh would take up space in her children’s memories, space that could otherwise have been used for something more useful.  So the children didn’t learn any Welsh.  

Now since my aunt made that decision, over half a century ago, we know much more about the process of learning and how our memories work.  Thanks to the awareness of cognitive science that is accumulating in the sector, we know that long term memory has huge capacity.   No knowledge is going to fall out of a person’s long-term memory in order to accommodate another language.  However, being EAL, having a mother tongue other than English, is often framed as a challenge at best, a disadvantage at worst.  Seldom is the discourse a celebration of the diversity of language in our communities.

Language is the tool we use to communicate, to make meaning and to articulate our thinking.  We can only use what we know to do this.  The word for turquoise in Welsh is gwyrddlas, literally translated greenblue.  In Welsh to think and the mind are the same word: meddwl.  These subtleties of perception and understanding give those of us who are EAL more, not less, to think with and about.  Studies into the cognitive processes of those who are bilingual have found a number of advantages for cognition. 

Like any aspect of identity, each individual with EAL is shaped by their own experience and one’s mother language is just one aspect of identity that intersects with many others.  Many EAL learners who enter the English education system early in their lives fare well, at least as well as those with English as a mother tongue.  Those who enter the education system later tend to fare less well.  Pupils who are EAL and live in poverty are less likely to make good educational progress than their peers.  Supporting EAL pupils to progress along language levels and grade boundaries, and to become fluent in the languages of their communities, is important, of course; but in the drive to do so, do we sometimes omit the ways in which EAL pupils can enrich the understanding of others by sharing their perceptions and experiences?  

On International Mother Language Day let’s actually celebrate.  The diversity of language, and of thinking and culture that come with it, add huge wealth to our communities.  The day-to-day support for people with different identities that translation, re-explanation and careful communication requires of us as members of communities with a range of mother languages builds inclusion.  It’s a habitual reminder that we are all both other and the same in many regards.  

I recently had a long train journey from London to North Wales.  On the last leg I shared a seat with a German family.  I speak almost no German.  They spoke almost no English.  The mother had two sons and the boys squeezed in between the two of us.  I understood almost nothing of their conversation, but as a mother of young children I completely understood the efforts involved in trying to keep two energetic, hot, excited and travel-weary children entertained and contained for a long journey.   The final part of the train journey follows the coast of North Wales along the Irish Sea.  As the train approached the coastline one of the boys called out meer.  In Welsh y môr, in English the sea.  Without a common language we all knew what we were talking about.

Using language is one of the qualities that unites us as humans.  Let’s celebrate the way in which we all use language, and all use different languages, to communicate and form communities.  All else being equal (and too often it is not) pupils are richer, not poorer, for celebrating their mother tongue.  

When Does Identity Matter?

Mahlon Evans-Sinclair portrait

Written by Mahlon Evans-Sinclair

Mahlon Evans-Sinclair is an experienced educator with extensive participation in the fields of learning, professional & personal development, and EDI (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion).

A good rule of thumb is being able to articulate its relevance to yourself.

I often read many stories/recollections that involve identity markers as a descriptor.

I’ve reasoned with the many manifestations of how people use them and figure that whatever the expression, the main reason is to draw attention to something that seemingly has relevance to the story… but does it always…

A former colleague would often tell stories and when an identity descriptor would come up, they would often pause and say ‘and (e.g. race) is relevant to the story here because’… At first it would take me out of the story as I would wonder what the point of drawing attention to it was for, but the more I heard it being said, the more I felt comfortable and more understanding of its intention – It was a signifier for both the storyteller and the audience that the inclusion of this marker was intentional and why.

In thinking about how we use markers in education, sometimes we implicitly state things and expect that others instinctively know what we mean, or we (un)intentionally ‘add weight’ to the meaning of our stories by throwing in unexplained identity markers as though they are adjectives.

Consider for example that one of the students in a class has a learning difference that needs to be taken into account. It makes sense to say, ‘and this status matters here because (it will help with your planning/seating arrangements/conversations with them and their family)’. Consider that the same student happens to be the only non-white student in the class. Would stating that there’s a ‘Black kid with dyslexia’ in the class be helpful in the same way?

It’d be useful to think about what you’re actually intending to state.

– Is the race as important as the learning difference?

– Do the race and the learning difference compound?

– Are there no other ways of describing the student?

You could say that this would be simply solved by knowing and using the student’s name – yes(!) – however, we don’t always do this, especially when retelling a story to an audience who may not have the same level of connection to the subject matter.

So, consider when telling a story that involves an identity marker (such as race, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical or mental difference, etc), add in a clarifier of ‘their identity matters here because…’ and see if it actually does.

The 3 Cs of DEIB Work: Consciousness, Confidence, Competence

Hannah Wilson portrait

Written by Hannah Wilson

Founder of Diverse Educators

Our Journey

When I am running training on DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging) for different stakeholder groups, I suggest that they see this work as a journey. The DEIB journey is one we go on individually and collectively, personally and professionally. The journey is non-linear and quite messy – different people will go off on different routes to reach the same goal and people will get on and off at different stages. This journey is a marathon and not a sprint, so we need to pace ourselves and we need to sustain our commitment to the work. 

Motivation to go on this journey is great, but it is the habits that we unlearn and relearn, that will enable the DEIB vision to become embedded into the provision. This is where we see impact and we can make change happen. Moreover, this journey has three parallel lanes. The 3Cs of Consciousness, Confidence and Competence are my way of breaking down the different things that we need to develop in ourselves and each other.

Our Consciousness

Def. the state of being aware of and responsive to one’s surroundings; a person’s awareness or perception of something.

We need to start here, fighting our bias for action as educators like to do and get busy finding  solutions to problems. But we need to start with the being. We need to become aware of ourselves, of each other and of the environment in which we are existing.

Consciousness is about exploring our own identity, recognising our own bias and navigating our own power and privilege. We need to become conscious of what we have not experienced, of what we have not been exposed to, of who we do not know.

We talk about getting ‘comfortable with being uncomfortable’ because we need to do the ‘inner work’ before we can start the ‘outer work’. We need to start with understanding ourselves on a deeper level.

The call to action is to be able to look in the mirror and to understand who we are and what shapes our thinking/ behaviour. 

Our Confidence

Def. the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something; the telling of private matters or secrets with mutual trust.

With increased awareness, we recognise that we do not have all of the answers. So we need to get confident in acknowledging that we are not the expert and that we need to listen to and learn from others. As we grapple with new concepts and new language, we need to model that we are going to get it wrong, that we are going to need support and feedback, and that we will make mistakes, but we will learn from them.

Confidence is about getting curious and asking more questions. We need to listen to others, to their lived experience, in order to expand our own perspective. We need to have the confidence to discover some hard truths about our organisation.

As we become confident engaging with the subject matter, we then need to become more confident in what we say and what we do. We need to stand up and speak out on issues impacting our community, we need to call in and call out behaviour and language that is not inclusive.

The call to action is to be willing to be courageously open and vulnerable. 

Our Competence

Def. the ability to do something successfully or efficiently; the quality or state of having sufficient knowledge, judgment, skill, or strength.

With consciousness and confidence, we can then start developing our competence. In order to do the work in realising our DEIB intentions and bringing our vision to life, we need to develop new skills.

‘We don’t know what we don’t know’ until we start the learning journey. By slowing things down we can be more intentional in identifying the gaps in knowledge and in planning the training to close these gaps over time.

Being competent means that we develop muscle memory, we practise until the new skills feel natural and automatic e.g. diversifying the curriculum/ library, reviewing policies/ processes and practices through a DEIB lens, holding courageous conversations, showing up as an ally.

The call to action is to invest time and resources into ongoing training for yourself and others.

Our Commitment

So as we head to the end of the year, we invite you to reflect on the journey you have been on with your DEIB work. Where have you become more conscious, more confident and more competent? And how have you cascaded this learning to others?

Accessing accurate funding for your EAL pupils through the October Census

Catherine Brennan portrait

Written by Catherine Brennan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can I find out more about EAL funding?

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

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

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

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

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

Flour on my Face

Siya Twani portrait

Written by Siya Twani

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why We Need Anti-Sexist Language Resources in the Curriculum

Sophie Frankpitt portrait

Written by Sophie Frankpitt

Applied Linguistics undergraduate at the University of Warwick

A culture of sexual- and gender-based violence is being enacted through our words. But we still aren’t listening – and we still aren’t talking about language.

In June 2021, the government published a review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges. It showed us that sexual- and gender-based violence is rife, and that girls are disproportionately affected. The figures were stark, but for many of us that did not come as a surprise. What came as a surprise for me is that – as far as I’m aware – no-one pointed out that most of the sexual harassment was perpetrated through language. 

I’m a Linguistics undergraduate, which means that studying language is what I do. Ever since the review was published, I’ve spent days rereading it, trying to work out how to articulately say that this survey shows us how important language is. It is through working with Our Streets Now for the last few months that I have been able to work out how to say what I think needs to be said. 

The review stated that 92% of girls thought sexist-name calling happens a lot at school, and 80% thought that unwanted sexual comments are a regular occurrence. Other recent studies have also shown us that sexual- and gender-based violence are often perpetrated through language. For example, in 2018, Plan International reported that 38% of girls experience verbal harassment at least once a month. This is likely to be higher amongst women of colour and those in the LGBT+ community. In the National Education Union’s (2019) study, over a quarter of teachers hear sexist language daily at school. On Our Streets Now media, the campaign against Public Sexual Harassment, you can see various testimonies that explain the effects of verbal (and other) harassment. 

You might say that sexist language is the least of our problems, and that we should be dealing with things like physical harassment. But sexist language establishes a conducive environment for sexist behaviour. It enacts and builds a culture in which sexual- and gender-based violence is standard. This means that, by using and hearing sexist language, a culture of sexual- and gender-based violence is normalised. There are many, many studies that have shown the detrimental effects of sexist language on wellbeing. And this is why language is important. 

Part of the reason language is powerful is because it shapes our worlds often without us even realising. Within our words lie our values, our beliefs, and our identities. Because of this, language has a massive role to play in the fight for gender equality. 

The first step is recognising how important language is – and thinking and talking about it much more than we currently do.

Secondly, we can incorporate teaching about anti-sexist language use into the curriculum. Our Streets Now currently has – and is working on – resources for schools that examine the role language has to play in combatting Public Sexual Harassment. The resources educate about Public Sexual Harassment, ranging from topics like being an active bystander to recognising victim-blaming narratives. 

And finally, we can make Feminist Linguistics more mainstream. Language affects all of us, so it’s damaging to keep it confined within academia. Every day and for everything, we use language – so we should all understand the power that words hold. There are a few resources that can help us to learn a bit more about language. I’d recommend starting with the blog language: a feminist guide, taking a look at Our Streets Now’s website, and learning about feminists (such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Amanda Gorman, Laura Bates –Every Day Sexism and many more) who use language to empower, uplift, and educate.

Being Transgender in the UK, Transphobia and How to be Inclusive

George Hughes portrait

Written by George Hughes

Senior Education, Training and Strategy Officer currently working for EqualiTeach. Having previously worked as an English teacher, George has a passion for writing. They are currently studying an MA in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and hope to one day publish their own children's novel.

With roughly 200,000 – 500,000 trans people living in the UK (Government Equalities Office, 2018), and more celebrities coming out as gender diverse, trans people have become a popular subject for discussion. While many transgender people are celebrated around the world, discrimination and transphobia is still being faced daily with devastating consequences. This blog is about being transgender in the UK, what we mean by transphobia, and what we can do to be inclusive of all members of the community.  

First of all, what is meant by the term transgender?  

The word transgender is a term which describes people whose gender identity is not aligned with the sex they are assigned at birth.  

What is gender identity?  

A person’s gender identity is their personal and internal sense of who they are regardless of their hormones, internal and external sex organs, and chromosomes. Gender is no longer regarded as a binary model wherein people have to identify as either man or woman; it is instead a spectrum in which a person is able to freely identify themselves as one of over 60 different gender identities.  (Abrams and Ferguson, 2022)  

What is transphobia?  

In simple terms, transphobia is negative feelings, attitudes or actions against people who identify as transgender. It also covers those who identify as nonbinary, transsexual or androgyne. Transphobia can be seen in many different forms and can range from inappropriate language, prejudice-related bullying, to full-blown violent attacks.  

The transgender community have become a topic more frequently discussed by the British tabloids. Panic and prejudice have been propagated by the press and gender critics. Research carried out by Forbes (2021) has claimed that 375 transgender people were murdered in 2021 – twenty five more than the year before. According to records, this is the ‘deadliest year of violence against gender diverse people since records began.’  

In August 2020, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published a report which showed the public’s attitudes to trans people. From the data, it is clear that many people do show a positive attitude. When asked to choose words to describe their feelings towards trans people, many chose words such as ‘respect’ and ‘admire’. However, there is still a percentage who selected ‘pity’, ‘fear’, ‘disgust’ and ‘resentment.’  

So why is there a growing level of fear-mongering and intolerance?  

Shon Faye (2021) states, “By and large, the transgender issue is seen as a ‘toxic debate’, a ‘difficult topic’ chewed over (usually by people who are not trans themselves) on television shows, in newspaper opinion pieces and in university philosophy departments. Actual trans people are rarely to be seen.” As a trans person, it is hurtful to have my existence debated by people without any lived experience. How often do we see ourselves reflected in the media, and not being spoken about by a cisgender person? 

As someone who has recently come out as trans, I am getting used to the daily microaggressions and comments about people’s ‘transness’. People have a lot of questions! The most common questions are “When you are having surgery or taking hormones?” as that is what people assume is everyone’s next step. It is not enough that we exist, we have to exist in a way that everyone expects us to.  

What is it like being trans in the UK?  

While there is lots of support, it is also incredibly difficult. In order to even be diagnosed with ‘gender dysphoria’ (the feeling of discomfort or distress that might occur in people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth or sex-related physical characteristics) and start medically transitioning, you have to be assessed by two psychologists with expertise in the area of gender development. These can be in excess of £1000 and that is just to get a piece of paper with your ‘diagnosis’ on. If you were to go through the NHS, wait times for the first appointment alone are a minimum of eighteen months – and that is if you are fortunate. Once you have your referral, you are faced with more waiting to see a specialist in that area. Even privately, waiting lists for hormone replacement therapy are a year long. So, while some of us will be going through hormone therapy or surgery, each time we are asked, it reminds us of the long waiting list ahead and the months to follow where we still don’t feel at home in the body we are in.  

How can people help? 

One way, is to avoid gendered language 

Reflect on the language you are using. Using gendered language such as ‘boys and girls,’ ‘lads’ and ‘ladies and gentlemen’ can be alienating for those who identify as gender non-conforming and gender diverse. Being referred to as ‘miss’, ‘ladies’, or ‘madam’ makes me feel uncomfortable every single time.   

To avoid this, use vocabulary such as: 

  • Everyone 
  • People 
  • Folks 

These terms are more inclusive and do not focus on someone’s gender or gender identity.  

Use chosen names and correct pronouns 

A person’s chosen name and pronouns are an important part of their identity. If someone has asked you to use these, ensure you are doing so in order to respect the person’s gender identity, and to ensure that they feel included and valued. Chances are, someone has spent a lot of time thinking about their name, so please use it!  

If you’re not sure of someone’s pronouns, ask! I have always really appreciated it when someone has asked me what my pronouns are. It immediately puts me at ease. If you are struggling to remember, have a go at saying their names and chosen pronouns aloud.  

For example:  

Sam is a trans man, he is using he/him pronouns.  

Jamie identifies as non-binary. They use they/them pronouns.  

What is a deadname? 

A deadname is the name transgender people may use to refer to the name they were given at birth. Some people may refer to it as their birth name. You should not ask what their deadname or birth name is, unless it is for legal or financial reasons. If someone wants to share this with you, they will. If you know someone’s birth name, don’t use it. Use the name that the individual asks you to use.

What if I call the person their birth name or use the wrong pronouns? 

People make mistakes all the time. It’s okay! If you happen to do this, apologise and move on. If someone corrects you, say ‘thank you’ and move on. It may take a while to remember if you have known the person a while. The most important thing is to show that you are trying.  

What if I’m talking about someone before they transitioned? 

Always refer to the person using their chosen name and pronouns unless they tell you otherwise. It is respectful to only use what the person is happy with. 

And finally, if there is a question that can be answered by Google, search for it! 

I started out thinking I had to be everyone’s guidebook to being transgender. I misplaced nosiness for support and said that I was happy to answer any questions at any time. I have since realised that it is not my duty to educate others; that is something that has to come from them. While I am more than happy to have conversations on being transgender, rights, discrimination and equality, I am not here to help people understand what being transgender means. It is tiring.  

If I was to use a metaphor to describe being trans, it would be this:  

Being trans is like floating around in a rubber ring in the ocean. You can see everyone else on their islands happily being themselves and being free. No matter how hard you paddle, you can’t get there. You’ve never visited and you don’t know how to. People keep telling you to visit, but you still don’t know how. Accepting you are trans allows you to start building a bridge from your rubber ring to the island. With each step you take to becoming yourself, another part of the bridge is added, until it is finally completed. When people call now, you can then cross the bridge and live on that island. It is then that you feel like you’re home.

The benefits that English second language workers can bring to your workplace

Paul Holcroft portrait

Written by Paul Holcroft

Paul Holcroft is the Managing Director at Croner.

Organisations are actively seeking out, not just multi-talented workers, but also multilingual employees to join their workforce. 

Hiring workers who can fluently communicate in more than one language is seen as a huge positive business asset. Employees fluent through ‘lingua franca’ allows you to trade in wider foreign fields and on international scales. 

Its significance proves business success goes far beyond just being fluent in English. And through that, more employers are seeing the benefit of recruiting multilingual and ethnically diverse workers. 

Read how hiring an ethnically diverse workforce, with a penchant for languages, can prove beneficial for your brand-name and succession.

Understanding the customers’ needs on another level

Your brand-name will be publicly viewed as a workplace which understands the importance of diversity and inclusion. The benefits for this will return to you, through the growth of your clientele field. And the same will occur with your customers’ commitments. 

It’s worth taking notes on the new market-realms you can effectively tap into. You’ll be able to appreciate and explore them, through better insight from your multilingual employees. Learning about local customs, rituals, and beliefs can increase customer relations and marketing services.

Stronger customer loyalty and relations

Through diverse workforces, you can bring about great benefits to your customer relations. A stronger rapport means business interaction will run more smoothly and efficiently. 

Employees will share lingual mindsets and cultural backgrounds, which means they can establish queries to greater lengths and depths. And their understanding for customer satisfaction and objectives will remain completely exclusive.

Your clients will be left with confidence and appreciation for your tailored services. And with strengthened trust, you can keep confident that their loyalty will transpire into business profit and succession.

In-house translation support 

You can effectively utilise employees who are bilingual, multilingual, or polyglots for any business projects that require language-centricity. 

They can be used for a wide range of communicative work-tasks, like drafting legal contracts, writing dual-language materials, and international marketing campaigns. You’ll be guaranteed high quality content and easily accessible services. 

Different level of talent and skill set

Employees with multilingual capabilities bring a completely different type of skill set to the table. Research by the National Institute of Health found bilingual people were able to switch tasks and process information faster than monolinguals. 

It allowed employees to work efficiently within fast-moving work environments. Meaning they’ll adapt effectively to hypergrowth and business expansion; and can handle new and unfamiliar experiences easier than others. 

Honing on this talent means workers will more likely remain in your employment. They’ll feel appreciated, valued, and aspire to progress further in their career with you.

Minimising the PR mistakes 

Recruiting employees, fluent in the language you’re working in, allows you to expand without a fear for linguist mistakes.

Facing marketing errors and translation issues reflects badly on your business name. When venturing into new markets and cultural demographics, your projects shouldn’t manifest costly business mistakes.

If you do conduct business that extends geography, language, and culture, it’s vital to have an in-depth understanding in that field. And you should understand ways to adapt your values and intentions to succeed in the new market.

The importance of diversity and inclusion in business 

Diversity and inclusion often go together – but are two completely different amenities. 

You’ll benefit from utilising both strategies to strengthen equal opportunities in your workplace. 

A diverse workplace will attract employees from all walks of life. Your business will be recognised as a place of equal opportunities and career progression.

It’s fair to say, not all businesses are able to hire candidates from a wide range of backgrounds and linguistics. 

But through taking a proactive approach towards creating a diverse workforce, you’ll be able to attract talent and corporate reputation – all benefiting business prosperity and succession.

What's in a Name?

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.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.” Juliet

Do names matter?

According to Shakespeare, not so much.

My name is Malarvilie. It may seem unusual but in India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka amongst the Tamil, Malayalam and Telungu communities (about 200 million people) it’s the equivalent of Sharon or Kate.

In my parents’ culture, the father’s first name is the family surname. My dad’s name was Krishna and his dad’s name was Rajaiyan. When the British closed down their naval base in Singapore, my dad became jobless but was offered a British passport as Britain needed workers. As he had 3 kids he jumped at the chance to work in the ‘motherland’. On his passport, the British added the ‘samy’ to Krishna. They did this often. Ever wondered why there are so many Patels in India? Much like ‘Jones’ for the Welsh and in Ireland, the English changed many names e.g.instead of Tadgh, they’d rename them ‘Tim’.

Malar means flower. Vilie means eyes. It sounded like I looked like an alien when I was born. I’ve clearly grown into my eyes. So they named me Malarvilie which together means a flower in bloom. My husband, Tim rips me to pieces every now and then about it.

When I was born, my dad wanted my grandad’s name added to my birth certificate as it’s an ancient Indian name and he was proud to have a child born in London. But my parents’ English wasn’t great in 1973. So my birth certificate says my name is Malarvilie Krishnasamy Rajaiyan. Even at my dad’s funeral, his name was wrong. When I mentioned it, a family member said ‘Oh he didn’t mind’. Is that the point? I also believe he did mind.

The Ting Tings understood!


In certain cultures they don’t correct you. In the UK there’s an awful habit of changing names to suit the English pallet. Or worse, it’s changed for you. Age 3, my childminder called me Mandy.

I’ve had a range of nicknames over the years:

– Mandy

– Malibu

– Milli Vanilli

– Mallory

My favourites are: ‘Malarvilie Christened-a-Salami’. I also found ‘Malarvilie Ham-bacon-Sarny’ amusing.

Even my parents called me Malar. Apparently by the time they said ‘vilie’, I was already there. 

But since 6th form I’ve been Mal.


As a teacher, in our first lesson together, I’d tell the kids all the nicknames I’ve had and put on the board Krish/na/sa/my. I’d say I’ve heard all the nicknames as a kid but I couldn’t do anything then, now as a teacher I can hand out detentions! I’d also say I expect them to say my name properly and I will ensure I say their name properly. Some children would say ‘Call me whatever’. But I’d insist they tell me how to say their name. 

As a teacher in one school, on my first day I introduced myself to staff as Malarvilie. Within a few hours everyone was calling me Mal, without permission, some without trying, some with a look of panic asking ‘do you have a short version?’ It was disheartening.

Smash the Patriarchy!

We got married in September. I didn’t change my name, as it’s my name. But Tim added Rajaiyan to his name. Our 2 kids have Rajaiyan as their middle names. It means ‘victorious king’. Our eldest is named Taigh Rajaiyan McCullagh, you can see his heritage in his name – Indian Irish. I feel a sense of pride when I see my children’s names in print. 

In the last 30 years, no one has called me Malarvilie until now.

I moved to Spain. At passport control in Valencia, the guy looked at my name and said ‘Malarvilie’ I nodded in shock and he asked ‘Is that correct?’ It was perfect. The Spaniards roll their ‘r’s so it’s easy for them. They’re also not afraid of long names. Unfortunately, Mal means’ bad’ or ‘evil’ in Spanish so saying ‘My name is Mal’ would be problematic. So, I introduce myself as Malarvilie. Tim has started calling me Malarvilie too as introducing me as ‘evil’ doesn’t feel right to him.

In Spain, in a funny way I feel more whole and less apologetic for my heritage.

So, what’s in a name? A lot actually.