Decade of Diversity: a cross-industry coalition of organisations and individuals supporting schools to increase diversity and inclusivity

Temi Akindele portrait

Written by Temi Akindele Barker

Inclusion Labs offers a custom programme for schools, grounded in research and best practice, but most importantly on the lived experience of students and families, particularly those from underrepresented groups.

During last year’s global BLM protests, I watched as friends and schools scrambled to find more diverse books to share with the children in their care. It struck a chord with me – the realisation that for many like myself this is a daily practice ignited from the moment you know you are bringing a child into this world.  As a mother raising two ethnically diverse daughters in a dual heritage home, surrounding my daughters with true representation: female empowerment, ethnically and culturally diverse stories and role models, is a necessity.  But I also passionately believe it is just as essential if you are not from an underrepresented group – it is about “windows and mirrors”.

 

When I think of my children, my hope for them really boils down to wanting them to know they have a place in this world.  That they truly belong.  That they are seen for who they are.  But for that to happen they have to recognise themselves in the world they inhabit.  They need to feel represented; they need to see others who look like them in leadership positions.  There can’t be a ceiling to their hopes and dreams.  And whilst I strive to emphasise this at home, I need the wider world to reemphasise this.

 

From my work with Inclusion Labs, I am acutely aware that the influence and impact a school have on a young person is profound, whether it is positive or negative.  And it endures.  From the moment they step into reception until their final day of sixth form, and they carry it with them long after that, shaping their perspective and expectation of the world around them.  Ideas and attitudes are formed simply from who and what is placed in front of them on a daily basis.  This is why representation of every form is vital.

 

The Decade of Diversity initiative is about representation.  It is a bold and ambitious call to action and a way for schools and organisations to plant a flag in the ground on its importance.  It is a visible and vocal commitment to do the work of diversity and inclusion, but significantly it is not an expectation that we do this alone.  This commitment is a two-way one: Inclusion Labs and our partners are committing to supporting and guiding schools that are brave enough to plant that flag.  We reached out to individuals and organisations of every kind and we all connected on this shared purpose and belief that we all have a part to play in the development of young people. “We were all children once – and we are now the parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts of children” (Kofi Annan) and by virtue of that, we must all be invested in their development.  And so, a cross-industry coalition was formed, one to create inspiration and action around the Decade of Diversity pledges: 25% Diverse Literature and Diverse Governing Boards by 2030.

 

We asked ourselves the questions: “what needs to be done?” and “what part can we play in the answer?”  We recognised the work being done by many schools, individuals and organisations and knew we must contribute to making change happen, recognising that together we are more impactful.  It is a long-term commitment, a shared vision of a collective journey over the next ten years.

 

This coalition cannot end with words but must be about actions.  And our founding partners’ commitments cover a breadth of support, everything from creating support materials; workshops and training; access to diverse role models; developing programmes; and so on.  Each and every partner rallied around this initiative and committed to actions with only two stipulations: 1) they must be about diverse literature or diversifying governing boards, and 2) they must focus on supporting students and/or teachers as well as the overall school community.  Crucially, our support will evolve every year in response to what is needed by our signatory schools.

 

To embed diversity, equity and inclusion into every young person’s educational, cultural and personal development, Inclusion Labs focuses in on our four outcomes:

Learning: what they learn, how they learn and who they are learning from; 

Accessibility: having access to a diverse and inclusive community; 

Balance: embedding equity – the different elements of any setting in the correct proportions; 

Society: preparing them to be active participants in the world, including positive representation and interactions with those from underrepresented groups.

 

At Inclusion Labs, we believe that every teacher can have a role to play when it comes to leading DEI in their school.  For us, the literature pledge is the moment where a school librarian can lead, and we have ensured that our partners can support them and their colleagues.  From library management system organisations to independent publishers, booksellers, writer development agencies and authors – we bring them together to inspire, support and guide schools.  And of course, we are fundraising to donate diverse literature directly into our signatory schools.

 

Recently, a student questioned the role of their school governors and why they were invisible to students.  As the conversation progressed, many in the group raised the point that their school governors felt far removed from them as individuals.  Our governing board pledge partners are all working together with Inclusion Labs to increase the diversity of board leadership in our schools, with outreach campaigns across industries, including alumni and families – after all, parents can do more than bake sales! In addition, we are supporting schools to create the optimum environment in which both pledges can thrive for the long term.

 

The Decade of Diversity pledges are for our young people.  They deserve and need diverse literature and leadership, whether they inhabit a state or independent school, primary or secondary, in the centre of a city or somewhere rural.  Our initiative echoes their protest whilst being about ambition and action – “we are tired of talking about this” was a phrase that was aired in many of our focus groups as well as meetings with our founding partners. From these two pledges, we believe much else flows (diverse curriculums, diverse staff, a greater sense of belonging and awareness).

 

We do not claim to be the silver bullet – the truth is, there is no one answer, and no one way to solve these issues.  We have to apply different methods and involve as many as possible to actively work towards breaking down barriers and transforming our world to one that is inclusive for all.

Join our movement for change – let’s turn intent into action!

Find out more about the #DecadeofDiversity pledges and become a signatory school or a partner:

https://inclusionlabs.co.uk/decade-of-diversity/ 

Follow us for updates about this initiative and our partners:

Twitter: @inclusion_labs

Instagram: inclusionlabs

Linkedin: Inclusion Labs

#InclusionLabs #DecadeOfDiversity 

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Education to End Violence Against Women and Girls

Natasha Eeles portrait

Written by Natasha Eeles

Natasha is the Founder of Bold Voices. She is a passionate advocate for the rights of women and marginalised genders.

The world young people are growing up in today is changing rapidly, bringing with it a need to think more broadly about the education young people require. In the past week the UK has had its eyes opened to the urgent need to challenge the seemingly harmless attitudes towards women and girls that contribute to a culture within which gender based violence is normalised and even accepted, a culture that unfortunately schools are not exempt from.

On Wednesday 3rd March Sarah Everad went missing while walking home in Clapham, south London. She had taken a well-lit, public route, she had called her boyfriend to let him know when she’d be home, she was wearing bright clothes and trainers. She followed all the unspoken ‘rules’ that women and girls follow to keep themselves safe, but it wasn’t enough. Since that day, Sarah’s kidnap and murder has sparked an outpouring of grief and exhaustion from women and marginalised genders across the country who are tired of being harassed, objectified and assaulted with little to no accountability for the perpetrators. The media coverage of Sarah Everad’s case coincided with the release of a UN Women UK report finding that 97% of young women aged 18-24 have experienced sexual harassment. 

 

Unlike the #MeToo movement of 2017, the moment of the past week has not left young people behind. The Instagram account Everyone’s Invited has gained unprecedented traction, with thousands of school pupils and university students submitting their testimonies of harassment, abuse, assault and speaking to the rape culture that pervades within our educational institutions. As teachers and parents it can be difficult to know what to do in the wake of such a horrific outpouring from young people, how to keep them safe. But if this last week has taught us anything, it’s that to bring up a new generation who do not continue to perpetuate a culture of violence against women and girls is a number one priority. 

HOW DO WE DO THIS?
THE ANSWER: EDUCATION. 

Keeping our young people safe and healthy means ensuring they have the right spaces for learning about and discussing these issues. We appreciate that terms such as ‘gender based’ or ‘sexual’ violence can be challenging and daunting, or even extreme, particularly when it comes to discussions about pupils. But, as this past week has shown, young people are not protected from this violence and so we must ensure we move towards a preventative as opposed to reactionary approach. 

At Bold Voices we’ve been delivering education on gender inequality and gender based violence to young people in schools and universities for three years. We’ve worked with over 2000 people through talks and workshops. We are a youth-led team who identify closely with the experiences young people face and understand the many influences that shape their beliefs and outlook on the world. Our education is designed to empower young people, both boys and girls, to see themselves as agents of change. We do this by approaching topics that are often uncomfortable and emotive with an objective, critical lens. In particular, our education focuses on challenging key attitudes and beliefs such as the perpetuation of gender stereotypes, dismissal of casual sexism as harmless and use of language that degrades and objectifies women.

This education is not a ‘nice-to-have’ addition to the curriculum. It is urgent, critical education required to keep young people safe and to disrupt the patterns of harassment, abuse and violence that have pervaded the lives of women and girls for centuries. Bold Voices are here to support you in becoming better equipped to have these conversations with your pupils, your children, and other educators and parents. As experts in delivering this critical education we have all the knowledge and expertise you need – resources, talks, workshops and a community where young people themselves can learn from each other and find support from others on this journey. 

HOW CAN WE HELP? 

Resources: Activities for the classroom, toolkits, blog posts and lesson plans for discussing gender inequality and gender based violence. Sign up to be the first to hear about new resources we create through our newsletter.

Talks and Workshops: Discover our talks and workshops, led by experienced facilitators and delivering on key topics relating to gender inequality and gender based violence including:

  • Thinking Big About Gender Inequality: From Misogyny to Gendered Violence
  • Preparing Our Teens for the Unspoken at University: Cultures of Gendered Violence within UK Universities
  • Online Sexual Harassment: How Gendered Violence Adapts to New Environments

Delivering Gendered Violence Education: Sign up for early access to our self-paced online course for teachers supporting you to deliver this critical education. 

www.boldvoices.co.uk
natasha@boldvoices.co.uk
@bold_voices

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Doing the Inner Work, to do the Outer Work

Ellie Lister portrait

Written by Ellie Lister

Ellie leads the Big Leadership Adventure programme at Big Education. A multi-academy trust and social enterprise whose mission is to rethink and reshape education.

We have spent the weekend working with our 2020 Big Leadership Adventure group. It is always an energising and uplifting experience – as we learn together as part of their journey as leaders who believe in a ‘big’ education that can change the system. The commitment, passion and dedication of this group of 30 leaders can not be overstated. We salute you all!

 

The overall theme of the two days was Design Thinking – how can we re-imagine practices by using a range of tools which get us to understand problems differently and then go about solving them in new ways? Inspired by the work of Ideo, this powerful methodology has much to offer us in the sector. 

 

As pupils return from lockdown, many more schools are looking to do things differently. Our leaders are all working on Innovation Projects that harness the learnings from lockdown, to help us to rethink and reshape education. 

 

We know that we cannot achieve ‘a big education’ unless our system values and embodies diversity, equity and inclusion. Having some of the sector-leading experts and trainers as part of the cohort gave an incredible opportunity to draw on their expertise and really explore how this is explicitly linked to our work on the programme. We explored the themes of user-centred design, really actually listening to what those with protected characteristics are saying, and creating the spaces where those conversations can happen. 

 

Adrian McLean and Hannah Wilson skillfully created a safe space for participants to learn, challenge and understand. It was so powerful to start with checking our knowledge of the equalities act – what are the 9 protected characteristics and how many can you name? Between the group we got there – but I for one would not have managed to get all 9 on my own. 

 

We were challenged to think about which of these are visible in our organisations. Where are there explicit practices in our organisation in supporting or addressing these protected characteristics? It was clear that for so many of us, there is not an equal balance of focus on each of those within our organisations. There were some fascinating reflections on the ‘emotional tax’ associated with some of the invisible characteristics, for example disabilities that are non visible.  Some areas of practice are much stronger than others, and it was powerful and, at times, very uncomfortable to delve into why this is the case. It was also fascinating to reflect on the difference between what is written in policies and what is actually happening which again can expose some uncomfortable truths. Adrian and Hanah recognised this and urged us to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” These reflections and conversations need to happen. 

 

A large focus was on encouraging us to look inwards first. “Doing the inner work, to do the outer work.” This means we need to look personally inwards and consider our own perspectives, privilege and biases before we can meaningfully bring that conversation into our wider organisations. We used the Wheel of Power and Privilege as a tool to consider our own identity and experience and as a way to consider what might be going on for others.

 

We made an interesting link with our concept of ‘making entry’ – the idea that an essential prerequisite of meaningful work together in a trusting relationship, and that this is achieved only through self disclosure and sharing information about ourselves. It raises many questions about what we choose to disclose – how much, about what and to whom. What is clear is that if we do not tell our own story, others will make one up for us.  Some of that story is based on what they can see – the visible characteristics – and some about assumptions they make. Whether we choose to inform them further is our choice.

 

What is also clear, however, is how powerful it is when people are open about aspects of themselves. We heard stories of the impact of staff sharing their sexual orientation with students and the transformation in attitudes this can enable, as well as safe spaces where students were empowered to be openly vulnerable and really challenge a culture of toxic masculinity.  

 

The group all made pledges for actions to undertake and we will hold ourselves accountable for these commitments.

 

Day 2 shifted us into some practical action in developing our leadership skills – what we call developing ourselves as a ‘leadership artefact’. We passionately believe that being able to clearly and effectively deliver a ‘stump’ speech is a tool in the changemaker’s tool kit. The ability to convince others, create a compelling narrative and inspire action is essential. Our leaders revisited their stump speech they had delivered as part of the application process, redrafted it in light of the philosophy of education module they have completed, and delivered it to colleagues in small groups. 

 

It was an incredible experience, for both those speaking and those listening and feeding back. Drawing on the 4 oracy strands as a framework for listening and observing, each leader then received detailed feedback about the impact their speech had had on others in the group. We were all reminded again of the power of feedback – such an important part of developing our self awareness and understanding the effect our behaviour has on others. We referenced the ever useful Johari’s window model as a framework where we consider what is known and unknown to self and others.

 

The energy, commitment and positivity from this group of school leaders, after the first week back at school, was quite a joy to experience. The power of the cohort and drawing on expertise and support from the group could not have been stronger. It is a pleasure to work with this group of leaders and the future feels a little brighter in their presence.

Are you passionate about the need for a holistic education for young people? Applications are open for the Big Leadership Adventure – closing at midnight on the 3rd of May: https://bigeducation.org/bla/

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Telling it Like it is: Decolonisation is Not Diversity

Tre Ventour portrait

Written by Tre Ventour

Northamptonian writer-poet, educator and curator, whose work has often revolved around arts, Black history and issues of race and social justice.

Previously published in Northampton Chronicle [edited]

Since the Murder of George Floyd, there has been renewed interest in Education to decolonise the curriculum, but I have so often seen this term decolonisation lumped with Diversity and Inclusion [D&I]. 

Movements to decolonise curricula have been around for years but progress has been little. To put more Black and Brown authors on course reading lists is simply diversity. And as Sofia Akel writes, “diversity can still exist within this western bias.” D&I and decolonisation are not the same. Academic Kavita Bhanot states that “the concept of diversity only exists if there is an assumed neutral point from which ‘others’ are ‘diverse.’” So, in responding to the Black Lives Matter movement, diversity can only exist in proximity to White people because diversity is “the new corporatized version of multiculturalism” and what we should be exploring is decolonial thought. 

In order to understand decolonisation, we must look at colonialism, specifically how it was more than the brutalisation of a set of peoples and cultures. It also includes intellectual genocides through knowledge production (i.e the erasure of African history), or if you want the jargon, epistemic violence. Epistemology is the theory of knowledge, so epistemicide is in reference to a violence committed through knowledge. This combined with the codification of White western European thought into our structures, very much a by-product of colonial epistemologies, is what we are living with today. Meaning these codifications have also centralised White western experiences and ways of thinking/acting as the universal norm, with Dr. Shona Hunter describing Whiteness as “the ethos of the impulse to govern. … it is not just that whiteness is sameness. It is the generalizing universalizing impulse, the impulse to have power over life, the ultimate controlling impulse.”

 Sofia Akel also says “decolonisation typically refers to the withdrawal of political, military and governmental rule of a colonised land by its invaders. Decolonising education, however, is often understood as the process in which we rethink, reframe and reconstruct the curricula and research that preserve the Europe-centred, colonial lens.” So, this is something undiscussed in just putting ‘diverse authors’ on reading lists. Prof. Gurminder Bhambra and colleagues believe decolonisation should provoke a change in our thinking about the world – where racism, empire and colonialism are placed at the centre and positioned as objects around which our present world is shaped. 

During the Labour Party’s Black History Month debate in October, the term decolonisation was contested by members of The Government. Bhambra and colleagues think that “one of the key challenges that decolonising approaches have presented to Eurocentric forms of knowledge is an insistence on positionality and plurality.” This means the conflicting different stances that can be taken in relation to arguments about decolonial thought. One such example could be to look at how colonialism is discussed in geographies situated in the Global South compared to the Global North(west). On a personal note, to me decolonising the curriculum could begin with looking at what epistemic violence looks like in STEM subjects. We could start by interrogating our very language in relation to Whiteness, (terms like East and West) and how the words and terms we use are vital to how we relate to our identities, communities and each other. 

Since the 2020 anti-racism resurgence, there’s been much debate about White privilege, a notion that has a long history in print with work having been done by thinkers, including WEB DuBois, Kalwant Bhopal, Peggy McIntosh, Theodore W. Allen, and more famously in the mainstream with Reni Eddo-Lodge. In our want to decolonise, it would be of value to also critique Whiteness, especially by looking at the work of Black and Brown authors, since Whiteness is often better critiqued from those outside of it. If we look at the current colonised curriculum as a symptom of White supremacy, we might be able to change our thinking beyond individuals. Just as Charles Mills writes, “unlike the currently more fashionable “white privilege” white supremacy implies the existence of a system that not only privileges whites but is run by whites for white benefit.”

So, when we think about decolonisation, we must the consider language. So, here we begin to see that D&I and decolonisation are different, and it’s often infuriating to see them lumped together. In admitting school, FE college and university curricula are colonised, we must then see how our education system is complicit in White supremacy. The Murder of George Floyd was a wakeup call for many. Movements to decolonise the curriculum have been around for decades and this is simply the latest chapter in a much longer, subtler history. Decolonise, not diversify, and with universities as well, in the tiger’s mouth of Coronavirus and students being fed a colonised curriculum in the White academy, you really have to ask, what exactly are students paying for?

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Culture Vs Performance Scrutiny? Which is most important for a governing board to get right to fulfil its strategic role on race?

Dominic Judge portrait

Written by Dominic Judge

Director of Governance Programmes at Inspiring Governance

The recent Diverse Educators series on Diverse Governance has got me thinking. The recurring theme is that developing the right culture in your governing board is the most critical step to getting equality and diversity right in your school. If you like… ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’. But are there other ways of tackling racial inequality?

I’ve been a continuously serving governor for the last 15 years in a variety of school and catchment contexts. I’ve also been a Diversity Training Manager in the police after the tragic murder of Stephen Lawrence and worked at the National College for Teaching and Leadership, not least leading a range of work to diversify senior school leadership. 

From what I’ve seen in all these contexts, culture is critical in successfully addressing racial inequality. A culture of leadership, personal commitment, brave discussion and a collective willing of boards and decision makers to educate and self-examine themselves in order to move forward. 

However, my experience has shown me that it is also about fundamentally ensuring race equality is elevated front and centre of organisational performance too. This means that race equality is on agendas, data is sought and scrutinised, actions are taken (and funded), and outcomes/ performance are scrutinised and challenged as forensically as any other element of performance. A good culture means this is easier to do but it can be done as the right culture is being developed.

In one of my roles I remember taking on a major programme to develop a pipeline of headteachers. One of this programme’s sub projects (the ‘diversity project’) was unfunded and described to me as an ‘influencing project’. Not surprisingly it was not under the same level of scrutiny as the others and consequently not achieving as much as them. 

This is exactly my point; we won’t make the progress we need to without the high scrutiny and funding of action that goes along with other areas of organisational/ school performance. Within months I ensured it was six-figure funded and scrutinised for its’ performance and progress by the overseeing programme governance board as keenly (if not more) as any other project we were undertaking.

So, if tackling race inequality in schools is to be scrutinised as forensically as any other area of school performance, what are some of the questions governing boards need to be asking themselves?…

7 main areas to consider:

  1. Pupil achievement/ attainment – Does the governing board regularly interrogate the school’s attainment data against ethnic category data. Are there markedly different SATs/ GCSE/ A-Level outcomes for different student groups? Why is this? What are we doing about it? How is the current Covid exam grading approach playing out across our diverse students? 
  2. Racism – My own experience of governance tells me that reported racist incidents to governing boards are very low, but a TES pupil survey last spring reported a third of pupils had seen/ heard racism in their school. So, behind the monitoring of RIs, how are governors assuring themselves that their school is tackling racism and educating students about it? Do all their students feel included, protected, and supported to achieve their academic best?
  3. Exclusions and behaviour The Timpson Review rightly shone the spotlight on pupil exclusions and if you have ever sat on an exclusion panel you will know the magnitude of the decision you are being asked to make. But as a collective board, governors need to monitor exclusions (and for that matter general behaviour sanctions) by ethnic category data – what is the pattern showing? how do they have safeguards/ checks and balances in place to understand and counter any uneven outcomes?
  4. School workforce data and approaches – Are governing boards reviewing their own composition? Are they reviewing the make-up of their SLT, their teaching staff, their ancillary staff? This is not advocating a call for positive discrimination but ensuring that the governing board is asking questions about the strategic approach to recruitment and development in the school.
  5. Broad and balanced curriculum – Governing boards have a strategic role to ensure the school is delivering a broad and balanced curriculum. So, are governors confident the school is offering a balanced curriculum, relatable and accessible to all students from all backgrounds? If an academy, how are they ensuring their curriculum freedoms motivate all pupil groups in the school?
  6. Policies (e.g. uniform) – How are maintained governing boards and trusts reviewing and signing off policies? Are these policies unwittingly leading to indirect discrimination in their outcomes and unevenly associated disciplinary action because of these – e.g. Black hairstyles
  7. Destination data – Governors of secondary schools should be strategically scrutinising the destination data from their schools. Where are their students from different race and ethnic backgrounds going after they leave school? What does the data say on those progressing to further or higher education, employment, what does our NEET data tell us?

Good schools and governing boards will already do much of the above and more. They will have developed their culture and have clarity for the school’s vision and ethos on race. But if some schools are working hard to develop their culture then it’s helpful to remember that part of the governing boards’ strategic role on race is to hold the school executive to account for the educational performance of all its pupils. For success and change, culture and performance scrutiny need to go hand in hand.

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Engage, Educate, Empower Mantras for Inclusive Leadership

Hannah Cotton portrait

Written by Hannah Cotton

Founding director of Inclusive Leadership firm, EquALLIES and promotes global inclusion on Twitter under #FFBInclusion.

I’ll confess, I’m getting a little sick of the three word mantras.  I’ve come to liken them to vacuous cross-party political promises and safety-critical health advice alike.  They’ve been over-used, over-simplified and under-estimate the intelligence of many to accommodate more.  

But I’m also a realist, relying heavily on my analytical skills to draw conclusions that support facts.  So, somewhat reluctantly, I acknowledge that three word mantras are highly effective at delivering a message.  They are effective at activating people to change.  

All else being equal, what’s required for change?

Our need to learn how to change has never been greater. Be it covid, Brexit, inequalities and social injustice or climate change, we must all grapple with the “new normal’; and that means change.  Maybe it’s just at the fore of our thoughts as we find this “new normal” may be so significantly removed from the old. 

Change is constant.  Risks change, rules change. Priorities, processes and systems change. Change is not tied to global pandemics or social injustices. None of it needs a rising of the people, form T216 or social media.  If the driver of a deadly efficient biological virus has taught us anything, it surely must be that. 

Many I move amongst embrace change lovingly; change is opportunity, growth and progress.  Through discussion, I’ve found most with this perspective draw from negative experiences of a need to change to reach this conclusion.  Many have grown through change linked to pain; loss of a family member, loss of a job, loss of safety or health, or recovery from addiction.   

Experience of the process builds confidence in change management. With knowledge and understanding, we can lead others with positivity to not just face change, but also to identify opportunities for change, and how to promote it.  The drive to build on past improvements spurs the next, and shared enthusiasm facilitates taking others on the same journey. 

 

There are also those that I recognise approaching change with a different mindset; when one equates change with fears of the unknown and loss of a comfort blanket.

However, let me clearly state at this point, there is a huge difference in those who require routine and consistency and those resisting change.  Neurodiversity is not a problem to be moulded into homogenous thinking.  Neurodiversity is a positive example of ‘different’ that we require change to embrace. 

So, with over 100 years of collective experience in cross-industry leadership, psychology, business and cultural expertise, EquALLIES have defined this three word mantra to effectively manage meaningful, inclusive change.  We’ve worked hard to condense our knowledge to provide the skills, learning, experiences and opportunities to lead oneself, and others, progressing the individual, their workplaces and communities. 

We go beyond the protected characteristics to embrace all stakeholders, including socio-economic, social capital and geographic inequalities.  After all, diversity is nothing without inclusion, and inclusion is impossible when it excludes. 

Engage: Get Ready To Work 

Engagement combines the need to inspire someone to do something. EquALLIES understands that means leading ourselves to change and also leading others. 

No-one is absolved from action.  Ask yourself some questions; 

  • Why?  Define your purpose.  Understanding the reasons for change will be key to keep you focused and motivated when times are tough. 
  • What? Define your goals, plan a course of action, understanding risks and measurable outcomes.  This will keep you on track for delivery. 
  • How? Outline the resources you will require to achieve your goals.  Knowing your strengths and your barriers to achievement will help you source the services, products and collaborators for success. 

For example, in the context of school, where the goal is learning, we have two cogs; pupil and teacher.   To engage, the pupil may prepare for the year with a new uniform and pencil case, but without corresponding resources from the teacher, their shared goals will be destined to fail. There is a requirement for individuals to prepare for cohesion and collaboration to address the issue at hand. 

Educate: Do the Work! 

Once you have engaged yourself, employed the resources you need to move forward towards a shared goal you must get ready to grow. Becoming mindful of yourself, knowing what growth feels like, how you address challenging situations and how to approach new ideas will be key.  When you understand your own learning style, you can then do the work to improve your knowledge.  This is when education yourself leads to educating others.  

Empower: Get to Work!

Once the individual and collective are engaged and educated, it’s time to act.  

Understanding barriers to action will include the process of liberating yourself from inaction, apathy or denial. Empowerment gives you the tools to challenge yourself, and others from issues that may be deeply ingrained, have formed bad habits and institutionalised ways of thinking. Enabling you to remove these barriers and act on behalf of yourself, and others, can safely be used towards realising your individual and collective goals. 

Conclusion

For one to change, one must be able.  Having the confidence to be you and to know your authentic brand of leadership is important.  Having a network to support you, to inspire, to share successes with and to draw from when further strengths are required is important.  Having a safe space and opportunity to practice your skills and reflect on your learning are important. 

Mantras may not always hold the detail we need to effect change. However, if they grab your attention and engage the individual enough to learn how to act on them, the journey transcends the need to re-skill in future.  By focusing on understanding self AND others, the fear of change, of loss and exclusion are replaced with practicing what we so often preach.  

Individually important but collectively successful, Engage > Educate > Empower is the three word mantra embracing leadership, diversity and inclusion.  

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Reflections on My First Term as D&I Lead

Jami Edwards-Clarke portrait

Written by Jami Edwards-Clarke

Director of D&I at Hurstpierpoint College, Housemistress and PE Teacher

As I sit and reflect on my journey so far as Director of D&I at Hurst, I am overwhelmed with positivity, hope and joy. What has been achieved since March 2020, is something Hurst’s community should be extremely proud of. Every initiative has been fantastic and that’s down to our pupil platform. They have been the engine throughout this journey and the work they have put in to ensuring its success, is phenomenal. It’s evident that there has been a visible amount of real, meaningful and immensely valuable progress and I am so proud of what has been achieved. 

  

Upon returning to the college in September, the platform began arranging our first big event: Black History Month in October. As curricula still all too often erases Black existence and achievements in history, we wanted to encourage students to engage with this annual celebration as a starting point for learning outside the curriculum. We put up posters just about everywhere and kicked each week off with an email full of resources like books and films which could help students learn about Black history. 

 

The next date on our agenda was the UN Disability week in December, with the theme ‘not all disabilities are visible’. Students often receive little education about disability and how to treat people with disabilities. We started to change that, with daily emails containing videos or articles that we hoped would broaden people’s understanding of disability. A shout out to Luke Morris and Mrs Naumann for heading this up, the work you put into making this a success was superb. 

 

As well as celebrating such events, Hurst pupils have been inspired by several speakers. Outside speakers include polymath Sophie Cook, the first transgender woman to work in football’s Premier League; Abdi Omar, a motivational speaker and Youtuber who lives with cerebral palsy; and Siya Twani, who was imprisoned for speaking out against injustice in South Africa – to name but a few. Additionally, members of the D & I group have delivered assemblies to the Shell and Fifth form on the aspects of Diversity & Inclusion that the platform hopes to promote across the college. The D & I group also created a PowerPoint slideshow, like the assemblies, to be presented to Year 7 & 8 by the D & I pupil ambassadors in the Prep School – who’re equally as keen and motivated to enact change in the college as those in the senior school.  

 

We have not been deterred by lockdown either, with Teams Q&A sessions with figures like Harry Hitchens, an ex-Hurst pupil who is now a key figure in the fight to Ban Conversion Therapy in the UK, and Devin Ibanez, a USA rugby player who is openly gay despite the stigma which remains in the sport. In fact, one advantage of online talks has been that parents can tune in too: 57 families watched Jude Guiatamacchi’s talk on their experiences as a non-binary model and campaigner. These thought-provoking talks have been incredibly valuable in giving students, parents and staff an authentic and ‘real life’ perspective on such important topics. 

 

D& I’s weekly Friday lunchtime meetings continued remotely and have also provided the opportunity for more talks – this time by teachers within the school. Highlights include Miss Cave and Miss McNeill’s talk on mental health, and Mr Cuerden’s frank discussion of his experiences at the time of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Additionally, Mrs Watson-Saunders delivered a powerful speech during the staff inset on her experience of being a person of colour in the UK. This teacher engagement with D&I is incredibly exciting – HoDs have been encouraged to reflect on their department’s curriculum to make it more inclusive; the History department have done a talk reflecting on Black London, hosted by Olly Ayres, the Drama department is planning to put together an LGBTQ+ themed monologue and the Art department have had a Black Lives Matter focus; a sign of change across all levels of the school. 

 

D & I have also been looking for ways to engage not only pupils but also parents. That’s why we have teamed up with Hurst’s Climate Awareness Group to create the Engage for Change newsletter, a monthly newsletter, sent to all Hurst pupils and parents. It contains articles written on a broad range of issues, from pollution to body positivity – all written by Hurst pupils from Shell to UVIth under the direction of Ms Lewis, Mr Jordan and Mrs Edwards-Clarke. The newsletter includes think pieces, advice, and interviews with pupils, staff and parents. Look out for the third volume in your inbox next month!  

 

The READI group (Rainbow Education Alliance of Diverse Identities / Individuals), a subsection of D & I, also began meeting during a Monday lunchtime towards the end of the second Half of Michaelmas term. The aim of this sub-group was to provide a safe space to talk about the experience of being LGBTQ+. In the first meeting of the group, we introduced ourselves, with those who were confident talking about their experience of being LGBTQ+, something which allowed people to overcome barriers – if individuals thought they were previously alone in their experience of being LGBTQ+, they knew that this was no longer the case. Something that came from this group was conversation over ‘identity and gender’. This got us onto the development of a gender-neutral uniform for the college. This takes time to get right, and there have been numerous meetings with SLT and discussion groups between staff and students to ensure pupils feel heard. However, we still have a bit of work to do in this domain, as we do not want to rush this process. We want all voices heard and a plan that suits all. We are hoping for some changes to come into place for September 2021. 

 

Lastly, I think it would be completely outrageous if we didn’t talk about what we are celebrating throughout February, so far, I would say it has been our biggest success. Hurst has thrown itself into celebrating Pride History Month with a push from the pupil platform and our marketing team. Planning started in January, with guest speakers taking the stage (Teams) for whole school tutorials. These events saw up to 500 pupils all tuned in for very exciting Q&As. The month started with a Prep and Senior School wide video made by a range of staff and students responding to what ‘pride’ meant to them, and why it’s important we celebrate this month. It was fantastic to see the prep school speak alongside senior school – feeling like a true moment of community during online learning. The weekly emails sent out by the amazing Ms Lewis highlight a few media options for staff and students to engage with and this has been well received. There have also been some initiatives for students to get involved with, like an Art department creative challenge to produce a timeline of events in LGBTQ+ history. Additionally, we offered LGBTQ+-themed books to any students and staff who wanted to get involved, sharing their views after the half term in a book-club session and even a PHM Bake Off! The involvement is going well and hopefully we can make this an annual initiative. Something that I personally enjoyed was connecting with OJs ( some dating back to 1979!) on their own LGBTQ+ memories back when they were at the College. It’s safe to say, that the work we are doing presently, has brough much joy and it’s evident that huge progress has been made. I really do hope we can form a stronger bond on all things D&I in the future with our Hurst Foundation programme, as it’s all about creating a strong relationship of past and present to really encapsulate the ‘community’ feel.  

 

What has easily been the highlight of the month is the fantastic tutorial talks we have had. Speaking from a pupil, staff and parent point of view, the feedback and engagement has been first class. The range of experience and viewpoints from Jude (a transgender, non-binary activist and model), to Harry (a gay, male activist) to Sarah and Leah (professional athletes, competing for GB and Wales in hockey). The eloquence, respect and genuine interest the student-body has reinforced why it’s important we as a school engage in celebrating LGBTQ+ History month. We are really proud at Hurst to be taking such a lead in celebrating all things diversity and inclusion, and we appreciate the active support the parent-body has shown us this month. Something that has really resonated with me from all of the online CPD sessions and Q&A discussions is how effective having a positive presence of allies and role models. Typically, people get inspired to do something when they see others like them do it and I believe as educators we have a huge responsibility in supporting, guiding and listening to everybody as the individuals they are, both academically and pastorally. We also have a significant responsibility in challenging those who do hold adverse opinions. Standing up for respect and kindness is something I stand by and with our mantra #Be #Yourself at Hurst at the forefront of this initiative, I will continue to do my absolute best to make sure every pupil and member of staff feel that they can stay true to just that.  

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Why Decolonise the Curriculum?

Nuzhat Uthmani portrait

Written by Nuzhat Uthmani

Primary Teacher specialising in Global Citizenship and Antiracist education

I posed a survey through @Scotedpolls recently in which 25% of respondents said they did not feel they needed to decolonise the curriculum. Despite the majority of respondents expressing an interest in learning more, this statistic stuck with me. Is it because educators don’t understand what the term means or is it because they don’t see that there is an inherent problem with our curriculum? Let me address both these possibilities.

This time last year, even I had not heard of this term. Lockdown allowed me the freedom to invest in my own professional development and, as an advocate of global citizenship, I learnt more about decolonising the curriculum and its impact on the education system.

Traditionally, much of our curriculum is framed around the successes of the British Empire. It fails to acknowledge the contribution of communities and nations without which the empire would not have been as successful or wealthy as it once was. The stories of what those nations sacrificed as a result has been hidden away for centuries. Decolonising the curriculum refers to the inclusion of those stories, characters and contributions of others around the world that has impacted on the lives that we live today.

The Black Lives Matter movement is seeking to do this by raising awareness of how the UK gained from the slave trade while committing human rights abuses on those communities. However, as educators we must be mindful of not promoting a stereotypical view of certain groups. When we teach about slavery, we should be mindful to also teach about the contribution of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities to Science, the Arts and Politics for example.

I’m on a mission now to embed diversity across all the curriculum. It does not mean scrapping everything we know and teaching new topics, instead it involves a mind-shift from educators, ensuring the inclusion of diverse examples and resources in their daily teaching. It means ensuring that one narrative doesn’t dominate out curriculum but a diversity of perspectives and experiences are represented.

So, what about those in our community who feel nothing needs to change? My question to those is how inclusive is your practice? Holding standalone themed weeks is a box ticking exercise we need to move away from and embrace diversity in all that we do. If you rarely use books with characters of colour, if you only use examples from the Western world, then that is not inclusive to those learners who never see their heritage valued within the classroom, so please think again.

If you want to learn more please check my blog on Global Citizenship Education for lesson plans, research, and links to a variety of organisations who are all working towards establishing anti-racist education and can help you get started on your journey to offering a more inclusive and diverse curriculum.

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