"How do we decide when to teach the names of private parts in Primary School?"

Ian Timbrell portrait

Written by Ian Timbrell

Ian is an education consultant and trainer, supporting schools develop their provision for LGBT+ pupils and their RSE curriculum. He has worked in education for 15 years; including as a class teacher and a deputy head teacher.

Debating whether to teach the names of genitals in Foundation Phase/Stage education (ages 3-7) is a nuanced discussion that encompasses considerations of child development, cultural norms, parental preferences, and educational goals. Making this discussion more complex is that in most countries (England and Wales included), when to introduce the names of genitals in Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) is not specified to a single age, but within a range (generally 3-11). In both England and Wales, schools are expected to teach the names of body parts, but which body parts, in which order and at what age, are not referenced. This is needed to provide schools flexibility to teach children at a stage appropriate to them, but has also resulted in a wide range of interpretations with some schools introducing the terms as young as 3, with other schools only teaching them when introducing lessons on puberty in upper KS2. I get regular questions about a particular RSE providers who provide lesson plans on the names of genitals in year 1. The rationale given by the organisation is not based in research, but in their own experience and through conversations with practitioners and so although a scheme has this lesson in, there are considerations that need to be made when deciding when to follow this guidance.

One of the reasons that it is difficult to make firm decisions about when to introduce terminology is the difficulty of finding peer-reviewed research in this area. For the most part, schools are led by either out of date research or guidance from organisations that is based on opinion and experience, rather than corroborated research. Introducing vocabulary in RSE and in areas of diversity is part of many studies and research projects and it is expected that in years to come, we’ll have more clarity in this area.

So with these difficulties in mind, what should schools do and how can we make decisions that is best for our pupils?

Arguments for Teaching Genital Names in the Foundation Phase/Stage:

  1. Promoting Body Positivity and Autonomy: Teaching children accurate anatomical terms for genitals fosters a healthy understanding and acceptance of their bodies. By using correct terminology, some believe that children develop a sense of body positivity and autonomy, enabling them to communicate effectively about their bodies and recognise inappropriate touch.
  2. Facilitating Safety and Awareness: Knowledge of proper anatomical names empowers children to articulate discomfort or instances of abuse more accurately. It is suggested that learning the correct names for genitals, like any other body part, have names helps break down taboos surrounding discussions of sexuality and promotes a culture of safety and awareness.
  3. Preventing Misinformation: Using euphemisms or avoiding discussions about genital names may lead to confusion and misinformation. Children are naturally curious and may seek answers from unreliable sources if not provided with accurate information in a safe and supportive environment.
  4. Normalizing Discussions about Sexuality: Introducing genital names in early education may usualise discussions about sexuality and reproductive health. When presented in an age-appropriate manner, such conversations may lay the foundation for future learning and promote healthy attitudes towards sexuality and relationships.

Arguments against Teaching Genital Names in the Foundation Phase/Stage:

  1. Cultural Sensitivities and Parental Preferences: Some parents may feel uncomfortable with the idea of their young children learning genital names in an educational setting. Cultural norms, religious beliefs, and personal values vary widely, influencing parental preferences regarding what and how topics related to sexuality are addressed in early education. Introducing the genital names without the support of parents and guardians could cause conflicts with and between home and school.
  2. Developmental Appropriateness: Critics argue that introducing genital names at too young an age may be developmentally inappropriate and potentially confusing for children. They suggest that focusing on broader concepts such as body boundaries, personal safety, and self-respect may be more suitable for early childhood education. There is also the risk that it may not be appropriate for pupils with certain ALN/SEND at a certain time, or that the resources don’t take into account their individual needs.
  3. Respecting Family Dynamics: Education systems must respect the diversity of family structures and dynamics. Some parents prefer to address topics related to sexuality and anatomy within the family unit, tailoring discussions to their child’s individual readiness and comfort level.
  4. Risk of Misinterpretation: Critics caution that discussing genital names in early education may inadvertently sensationalise or overemphasize the significance of genitals, potentially leading to misunderstandings or discomfort among children and parents.

Finding a Middle Ground:

In navigating this issue, finding a middle ground that respects diverse perspectives while prioritizing children’s well-being is essential. Educators and policymakers can consider the following approaches:

  • Consult with parents and experts: Engage parents, carers, and experts in child development, psychology, and education to gather insights and perspectives on the issue. Work with the community to develop an approach that works for your school, not because a scheme dictates it.
  • Plan for individuals: Do not take a blanket approach to teaching. Consider whether every pupil is ready and what reasonable adjustments need to be put into place for certain pupils.
  • Provide opt-out options: When permitted by the curriculum, offer parents the opportunity to opt their children out of specific lessons or discussions related to genital names, respecting their autonomy and preferences.
  • Emphasise sensitivity and inclusivity: Approach discussions about genital names with sensitivity, inclusivity, and cultural awareness, acknowledging diverse perspectives and beliefs within the community.

The debate over whether to teach genital names in early childhood education reflects the broader discourse surrounding sexuality education, child development, and cultural sensitivities. The review of RSE in England may provide additional transparency around this issue, but until then, we have to use our professional judgement and work with all stakeholders to ensure that our children get quality RSE and are safeguarded against harm.


Empowering PSHE Leadership: Leading with DEI Principles

Malarvilie Krishnasamy portrait

Written by Malarvilie Krishnasamy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


Global Citizenship and the Role of a Global Network in Education

Nadim M Nsouli portrait

Written by Nadim M Nsouli

Nadim M. Nsouli is Founder, Chairman and CEO of Inspired Education. Founded in 2013, he re-evaluated traditional teaching methods and created a new model for modern education. Today, 80,000 students in 111 Inspired schools across 24 countries benefit from a student-centred approach and globally relevant curriculum.

With digital communication facilitating the exchange of ideas, the world is more interconnected than ever before. As such, it’s increasingly common for individuals to identify as global citizens. This presents opportunities for young people. Yet also poses challenges. 

Adapting to globalisation necessitates a strong sense of self-identity and an open mind. Individuals engage with other cultures and challenge stereotypes. Thus, learners must be equipped with the knowledge, skills, and values to navigate and contribute to the world in which they want to live. 

There’s a growing recognition that educating for global citizenship is of importance. In 2012, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, said “Education is about more than literacy and numeracy. It is also about citizenry”. Global Citizenship is an all-encompassing concept that acknowledges the web of connections and interdependencies in the world. According to Ban Ki-moon, “Education must fully assume its essential role in helping people to forge more just, peaceful and tolerant societies.”

Students’ desire for international travel and cross-cultural programmes has been apparent for some time. In the past, a one-dimensional approach to this was for an institution to partner with a pre-existing educational facility in the location of interest. However, we’ve witnessed a substantial transformation in the way educational institutions operate, i.e., the emergence and rapid growth of global school networks. With a presence across countries and continents, they’re bringing about a new age of learning possibilities.

Educational institutions are recognising that global citizenship education can develop and enhance much-needed values and skills that will better equip students in a changing world. The concept of ‘global campuses’ has gained prominence, wherein the focus is on cultivating a multicultural ethos. 

The Inspired Education Group demonstrates this model with 111 institutions that provide its students with opportunities beyond the capabilities of a single entity. Nadim Nsouli, CEO and Founder, describes it: “We’re now present in 24 countries around the world. This allows 80,000 students from different cultural backgrounds to meet and learn from one another.” Each campus offers a safe space to explore complex and controversial global issues. This approach encourages learning from, and about, people, places, and cultures that are different from our own.

Beneficiaries of the Global Approach to Education

Academic freedom and inquiry are encouraged in international education. It’s a force for promoting open, safe, and peaceful environments. The ability to cultivate global citizenship is grounded in the commitment to giving learners the tools to bring about positive change. 

To be effective global citizens, individuals need to be proactive, innovative, and adaptable. They must be able to identify and solve problems, make informed decisions, think critically, articulate persuasively, and work collaboratively. 

An educational institution is traditionally centred on imparting knowledge to its students through academia. However, the acquisition of these ‘soft skills’ is also needed to succeed in workplaces and other aspects of 21st-century life. At the crux of fostering global citizenship education – and by association, these skills – is a network. 

How a Global Approach Translates to the Classroom

The powerful message of Aesop’s quote “In union there is strength” has never been more relevant than it is today, as educational institutions embrace multiculturalism. Many campuses are now interconnected, which allows students to access any of them – and their specialisms – with ease. This is even more powerful with the addition of extracurricular activities facilitated abroad, providing invaluable experiences. Nadim states: “To develop a rigorous global understanding, an education for global citizenship should also include opportunities for young people to experience local communities. Global campuses, exchange programmes and summer camps offer this.”

Teaching global citizenship itself requires methodologies that facilitate a respectful and empathetic atmosphere. This includes techniques like in-depth discussions and cause and consequence analyses. The objective is to foster critical thinking and encourage learners to explore, develop, and articulate their views while respectfully listening to others. “This is an important step,” says Nadim, “These methods of critical discussion may not be unique, but used in combination with a global perspective, they build understanding and foster skills like critical thinking, questioning, communication, and cooperation.”

Facilitating a participatory classroom environment requires a significant shift in the role of the teacher. They move from being the primary source of knowledge and direction to a facilitator. One which guides as students adapt to think critically, assess evidence, make informed decisions, and work collaboratively with others.

Creating an active classroom environment requires the adoption of a learner-centred approach. This means that the teacher becomes an organiser of knowledge, creating a holistic environment that supports students. As Nadim affirms: “Rather than being passive individuals simply answering questions and competing with their peers, learners must assume an active role. This means taking responsibility for their learning as well as their understanding of the global context of their lives”.

Summary

The notion that all human beings are equal members of the human race is central to the concept of global citizenship. Regrettably, entrenched beliefs in the supposed superiority of certain groups persist in our words, actions, and systems. The educational space is no exception. It can manifest, knowingly or unknowingly, in policies and curricula.

We view the world based on our own culture, values, and experiences. Hence a range of perspectives will exist on any given issue. Thus, gaining a comprehensive understanding of a subject relies on the exploration of other cultures.

As the world grapples with complex problems, global citizenship education has emerged as the gold standard of any institution. This is fuelled by a growing movement promoting peace, human rights, and sustainability. These three pillars are the foundation upon which global citizenship education stands. As Nadim remarks, “The future belongs to young people who can think critically and creatively, collaborating across borders and cultures.”


A Curriculum That Empowers Young People in Care

Anu Roy portrait

Written by Anu Roy

Anu is a TeachFirst leadership Alumni and digital trustee and teacher committee lead for charities in England and Scotland. She is currently a digital curriculum development manager and works in inclusive education projects incorporating tech.

This year is the first time I have developed and designed curriculum models for young people in the care system. Although students I have taught in previous roles come from a range of backgrounds, this role is the first time I have looked at curriculum specifically through the lens of an education that often forgets the difficulties faced by care experienced young people. 

Out of nearly 12 million children living in England, just over 400,000 are in the social care system at any one time. They face a lot of disruption in their learning journey due to personal circumstances, financial difficulties and challenging home circumstances. This means in comparison to their peers, care experienced young people fall behind in most education and health outcome indicators.

Working with a team of educators, social workers, web developers and UX/UI designers, these are the ways we believe curriculum development can help experienced young people thrive: 

  1. Introduce context alongside technical concepts: technical concepts across all subjects can be difficult for CEYP to master in a short space of time so contextual information wedged on either side of a technical explanation will enable their understanding and grasp to learn and embed the technicality in their wider learning framework. 
  2. Champion peer learning– CEYP could have challenging interactions with direct instruction if it reminds them of unpleasant previous instructor situations therefore activities that use peer learning not only lowers the stakes for them to develop their self confidence and interactivity in a lesson but encourages building friendships within the classroom while learning key concepts together.
  3. Open ended ethos– instructors and teachers should veer away from specifying the outcome of a learning topic as ‘to achieve grade _’- instead the learning objectives should first be anchored to exploring the curiosity around the topic with prompts such as ‘what would happen if____?’ or ‘what could we learn if we explored how___’. Academic pressure to perform instantly can feel overwhelming for CEYP. While they should not be met with lowered expectations, instead the reframing helps to welcome them to first explore before learning the topic and moving on to an evaluative stage where they gain more agency. 
  4. Knowledge connection outside the classroom-Learning feels more relevant for CEYP when they are introduced to topics through the lens of real world use. Introducing a curriculum through a skills development framework linked to increased employment motivates them to understand the use of each topic, further strengthened by real world examples, work based scenarios and soft skill demonstrations. It helps them bridge the transition from education to active skill application and any learning based curriculum should also have opportunities through project work for practical applications related to public speaking, project management, team building and problem solving for CEYP to gain experience in these areas. 

Many educators are unaware of the students in their classrooms who come from a care experienced background. While this should not be the only aspect of their identity to focus on, a student centered approach to relationship building alongside these curriculum findings should enable educators to build strong relationships by understanding the story and journey many of their students have taken to make it to the classroom and learn each day. Aimed with this knowledge and bespoke approach, schools and their wider communities can foster a sense of belonging for care experienced young people, something they have been denied of for too long. 


Seeing the Unseen

Tyrone Sinclair portrait

Written by Tyrone Sinclair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can care-experienced young people teach us?

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

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


Attainment, Wellbeing and Recruitment

Miriam Hussain portrait

Written by Miriam Hussain

Miriam Hussain is a Director and Teacher of English within a Trust in the West Midlands. She has held a range of roles within education such as: Assistant Headteacher and Chair of Governors. She is also a Curriculum Associate and Ambassador for Teach First. Miriam is a Regional Lead for Litdrive, a charity and Subject Association for English teachers. She is also studying a Masters at the University of Oxford. Her twitter is @MiriamHussain_

The recent report from Sutton Trust (linked below) on the 19th of October 2023 stated that the attainment gap between disadvantage pupils and their peers had widened. This was massively concerning not only to me but a number of other school leaders across the country. The gap is now at its highest level since 2011, removing any progress made in the last decade. A gut-wrenching statistic. There are a lot of reasons for this, you only need to log on to Twitter (X) and see the quote tweets and replies to see people responding and citing the following: the government, economic and political inequality, social care and poverty.  When I read the report however the first thing that cropped up into mind was recruitment. Having spent my career in working in schools in severe low socioeconomic deprivation but also disadvantage it made me think about the immense challenges for our young people today. The long list of barriers to social mobility for thousands of students alongside how would the best teachers be attracted to schools in these pressure cooker environments.

The Guardian in 2023 stated that almost a third of teachers who qualified in the last decade have since left the profession. This coupled with the growing attainment gap is a disaster. The article (linked below) went on to state that 13% of teachers in England that qualified in 2019 then resigned within two years resulting in 3000 teachers leaving the profession. They cited being overworked, stressed and not feeling value as the reasons. Ultimately, why work in education if you can get the same amount of money elsewhere or more, for less stress and work. How can we make teaching more attractive so that future talent doesn’t leave or quit. Ultimately, it will be these teachers who close the attainment gap so what do leaders within schools need to do to provide the conditions for teachers to stay;

  1. A wellbeing policy. Kat Howard in her blog (linked below) on Workload Perception states that wellbeing policies should be an explicit obligation to recognise the importance of taking care of staff. It is not a pizza party or copious amounts of high sugar foods on an evening where staff are expected to work late but instead a series of initiatives which support staff and elevate pressures throughout the year such as; giving time back to staff in the form of PPA at home, Golden tickets for staff where they can have a day for themselves via a raffle or specific initiatives through the year eg parents evenings, inviting people into meetings that only need to be there rather than everyone, having an email embargo of when emails can and can’t be sent. These are all important and need to be considered. Alongside, this its also having transparent conversations to support members of staff with flexible working with an ever-changing work force in addition to growing childcare commitments. These different viewpoints of work are critical. What I really enjoyed about Kat’s blog is that first and foremost having a wellbeing policy is ensuring that wellbeing is a reoccurring agenda item rather than a tick box activity. It forces the dialogue and critical conversations to change the face of education. It is providing policy led support for all stakeholders in education. 
  2. Improve retention of staff via CPD. Leaders of schools need to be intentional with the CPD offer within their school or trust. How is the Professional Development meeting staff needs but more importantly developing them? What NPQs are staff being offered alongside leadership pathways within the trust or school? What does the next set of Middle or Senior Leadership look and feel like? Ultimately what is the offer you are giving to have the very best teachers working with your schools and trust to address the attainment gap?
  3. Schools have to offer a safe environment with a clear behaviour policy. If we want high calibre staff to teach in deprived areas leaders need to ensure that their staff are safe, SLT are visible and clear routines are being implemented. It is critical to ensure no learning time is lost as well as providing the right conditions within classrooms to address educational disadvantage. From my own experience an effective behaviour policy is the bedrock of any school. Students within these communities need consistent practices more than anything else. Clear procedures, habits and processes supports staff moral massively. The behaviour policy needs to be established and revisited daily.
  4. A good example of getting it right with a plethora of examples and research is of course Joe Kirby’s blog (linked below); Hornets, Slugs, Bees and Butterflies: not to do lists and the workload relief revolution. Critically it asks and answers how school leaders can support teachers and staff within education. There are many layers within the blog that I could delve into but what stood out to me was the Hornet section – High Effort, Low – impact initiatives within schools. Several Trusts implement these strategies on a daily basis, Pupil Progress meetings, Pointless Paperwork, Seating plans with data. They take a lot of time and within those high-pressure environments very little is done with that information afterwards it’s merely meeting a deadline. In the reality of school life, they are ineffective and unproductive. We then have slugs, copying out learning objectives, flight paths and big ideas with no detail. Instead, school cultures should be focused on the high impact strategies some of them described in the Kirby’s blog as; quizzes, booklets and sharing resources. Just because something has always been done does not mean that is how it always needs to me. With the recruitment crisis we are in we need to be thinking how we make schools flourishing institutions with systems that allow staff to do so. 

I do believe these are within our control as leaders we need to be able to provide the right conditions and systems for our teachers, staff and individuals. Kat ends her blog with stating that in order to ‘improve conditions for all staff if time is taken’. Time being used to listen to what each stakeholder has to say and then making the necessary changes to have a positive and purposeful impact. Conversations should be seen as the framework that drives not only attainment, wellbeing and recruitment forward but all facets of school procedures. As Joe Kirby put it, less time on the Slugs and Hornets and more time on the Butterflies. Let’s stop wasting time in education.

References 

Hornets, Slugs, Bees and Butterflies: not-to-do lists and the workload relief revolution | Joe Kirby (joe-kirby.com) 

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2023/jan/09/third-of-englands-teachers-who-qualified-in-last-decade-have-left-profession 

Sutton Trust comment on Key Stage 4 performance data – Sutton Trust 

Workload | Perception – Kat Howard (wordpress.com) 


Section 28: 20 Years On

Hannah Wilson portrait

Written by Hannah Wilson

Founder of Diverse Educators

Yesterday marked 20 years since Section 28 was repealed whilst also celebrating Trans Awareness Week. There is a brilliant thread on X here breaking down the key information all educators should know about this piece of problematic legislation which weaponised an identity group.

20 years ago, I had joined the teaching profession as a NQT at a boys’ school in Kent.

Homophobia was an issue.

I cannot remember having any training on my PGCE or in my NQT year about prejudice-based behaviour.

I cannot remember Section 28 being mentioned in either training programmes either.

After a year, I moved to London for a Head of Year role at a boys’ school in Surrey.

Homophobia was an issue.

But I felt more empowered to tackle it and I delivered the ‘Some People Are Gay – Get Over It! assemblies from Stonewall.

After three years, I then moved to a co-ed school in Mitcham.

Homophobia was an issue.

But we had strong whole school behaviour systems and consistent accountability so we tried to keep on top of it.

I also leveraged my pastoral and my curriculum leadership responsibilities to educate and to challenge the attitudes of our students.

After six years, I moved to a co-ed school in Morden as a Senior Leader (still in the same trust).

Homophobia was an issue.

But we had zero tolerance to discrimination and robust behaviour systems in place so we chipped away at it.

Three years later I relocated to Oxfordshire to be a Headteacher of a secondary school and Executive Headteacher of a primary school.

Homophobia was an issue.

But as a Headteacher with a committed SLT and visible role models, we hit it head on.

One of my favourite assembly moments in my twenty years in education was Bennie’s coming out assembly at our school. The courage and vulnerability she embodied as she shared the personal impact of the harmful attitudes, language and behaviour humanised the problem. We braced ourselves for the fallout, for the criticisms, but she was instead enveloped with love and respect by our community instead.

20 years on… six schools later…

Thousands of students… thousands of staff… thousands of parents and carers…

Homophobia was an issue – in every context, in every community, to a lesser or greater extent we have had to tackle prejudice and discrimination directed explicitly at the LGBTQ+ community.

Since leaving headship I have run a PGCE, consulted for national organisations, trained staff in schools, colleges and trusts (in the UK and internationally), coached senior leaders.

I am not a LGBTQ+ trainer – we have experts with lived experience who train on that. I speak about DEI strategy, inclusive cultures, inclusive language, inclusive behaviours and belonging. Yet, in every training session the experience of the LGBQT+ community comes up. It comes up especially with educators who started their careers in schools pre-2003 who talk about the shadow it has cast over them. It comes up with those starting their careers in schools asking when at interview you can ask if it is okay to be out.

Section 28 may have been repealed, we may be 20 years on, but have we really made any progress when it comes to tackling homophobia in our schools, in our communities and in our society?

Homophobia was and still is an issue.

As a cisgender, heterosexual woman homophobia has not personally impacted me. I have never had to hide my sexuality. I have been able to talk openly about who I am in a relationship with. I have not had to navigate assumptions, bias nor prejudice when it comes to who I date, who I love and who I commit to. This is a privilege I am aware of, but that I have also taken for granted.

A ‘big gay assembly’ may have been one of my professional highlights, but one of my personal low points was going on a night out to a gay club in Brighton in my early thirties, and my gay male friend being beaten up in the toilets in a supposed safe space by a homophobic straight man.

This is the reality for a lot of people I care about. Family, friends and colleagues who do not feel safe in our society. Members of my network who often do not feel safe in our schools.

It is our duty to ensure that our schools, our system and our society are safe for people to just be.

To be themselves… to be accepted… to be out at work (should they wish to be)… to be in love… to be able to talk about their relationships and their families…

It is our duty to ensure that we see progress in the next 20 years – as we are seeing a scary global regression of LGBTQ+ rights.

It is our duty to counter the current rhetoric – especially when it comes from our politicians who are weaponizing the LGBQT+ community.

It is our duty to challenge the haters and the trolls – if we as educators do not tackle it, then who else will?

Our gay students, staff, parents and carers need us to be allies. They need us to stand up, to speak out and to say this is not okay, this is enough.

Some signposting for organisations and resources to support you and your school:

Partnerships:

  • Schools Out UK – they run LGBT History month and we collaborate on activities.
  • Educate and Celebrate – they ran our LGBTQ+ training and school award for us.
  • LGBTed – we hosted their launch at our very first #DiverseEd event.
  • No Outsiders – we collaborate with them and celebrate their work.
  • Pride and Progress – we partner with them and support their work.
  • Just Like Us – we collaborate with them and amplify their Inclusion Week.
  • Diversity Role Models – we collaborate with them and amplify their great resources.
  • There are lots of other brilliant organisations and individuals working this space listed in our DEI Directory here.

Communities:

Books:

Podcasts:

Blogs:

Resources:

Training:


'Teaching Transgender Awareness Using No Outsiders' - new film resource for schools

Andrew Moffat portrait

Written by Andrew Moffat

Andrew Moffat has been teaching for 25 years and is currently PD Lead at Excelsior MAT. He is the author of “No Outsiders in our school: Teaching the Equality Act in Primary Schools” and “No Outsiders: everyone different, everyone welcome”. In 2017 Andrew was awarded a MBE for services to equality and diversity in education and in 2019 he was listed as a top ten finalist in the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize.

This week is Transgender Awareness Week which is a great opportunity to launch our new film, “Teaching Transgender Awareness using No Outsiders. The film shows that there are trans children in our schools today and many of those schools are doing an excellent job keeping them safe.

The Keeping Children Safe In Education guidance (Gov.UK, 2023) sets out expectations for schools to safeguard LGBT children; 

“Risks can be compounded where children who are LGBT lack a trusted adult with whom they can be open. It is therefore vital that staff endeavour to reduce the additional barriers faced and provide a safe space for them to speak out or share their concerns with members of staff.” (para 204)

Schools in England and Wales are currently waiting for DfE guidance on gender and gender identity. In July 2023, The Times reported that proposed gender guidance had been pulled; 

“A Whitehall source said that No10 and Badenoch had out forward a series of proposals to strengthen the guidance to the attorney general and government lawyers. The strongest – and a reflection of the governments concerns – was a blanket ban on social transitioning.” (Swinford, 2023)

The article quoted a government source saying: 

“More information is needed about the long term implications of allowing a child to live as though they are the opposite gender and the impact that may have on other children too.” (Swinford, 2023)

The aim of this new film from No Outsiders is to show that schools are already working successfully with trans children and their parents. Schools are delivering age-appropriate lessons where children demonstrate knowledge and understanding and are taught about non-judgement, respect and acceptance of others. 

My aim was to make a gentle film to take the heat out of the debate. In the film, we see Sam, a trans man living in Birmingham, return to his primary school to meet his former Y6 teacher. Sam sits in the seat where he sat as an 11 year old, and they discuss how his life has changed since then. His teacher describes how the school has moved on to reflect equality and inclusion today. Sam watches and comments on footage of a No Outsiders lesson at a school in Hertfordshire where transgender awareness is taught, and we hear Year 6 children speak eloquently on the subject. The film shows two parents (one is Sam’s Dad) talking about their experiences bringing up a trans child and the huge support they received from their respective schools. We also see Year 6 children in Bristol discuss texts used in their lessons and respond to the question, “Are you too young to know about this?”

I really wanted to show in this film that parents are working with schools, schools are listening, teachers are working hard to get it right. There is nothing scary or unusual about this. As teachers, we are good at putting the best interests of the children we teach at the heart of our policy and practice. My message to the DfE is, please let us get on with it. Schools want to get this right; we want to work with parents and children to create an environment where every child knows they belong.”

So, what now? What to do with the film? My first thought was to put a link on X (formerly twitter) and the No Outsiders facebook page, but I am aware of the toxic debate around this subject currently and I want to protect all the children and adults in the film. Of course, I realise once it is up on youtube, I lose control of who watches and where it goes, and in the coming months it may well pick up negative responses. but I feel in the first few weeks at least, for the first few views I would like allies to be seeing it. So, I immediately thought of Diverse Educators; a place where educators meet and support each other to make the world a better place. This should be the early audience for the film. Please feel free to share with friends and colleagues, show in staff meetings and use as a stimulus for discussion. I want people to see it.  I hope people find it useful. 

Watch the film here and feel free to share as you wish. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIH7I_SEU0E&t=3s

What is No Outsiders?

The ‘No Outsiders’ programme was created in order to build an ethos of community cohesion and respect for difference. It has had a positive impact on schools, teachers, children, and communities and has received widespread commendation within the education sector. In 2017, CEO Andrew Moffat was awarded an MBE medal by The Queen (UK) for equality and diversity work in education. In 2019 he was a top 10 finalist in the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize: a $1million award for outstanding contributions to the profession.

Teacher training related to the ‘No Outsiders’ programme has had widespread recognition. In the year 2023 January – November, Andrew Moffat has delivered No Outsiders training in 85 schools across the UK, and at numerous conferences and events, teaching over 35,000 children a No Outsiders lesson and training over 11,000 staff.

The No Outsiders guide “No Outsiders: everyone different, everyone welcome” is available here https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=andrew+moffat&crid=3OT7CA7JHVOS2&sprefix=%2Caps%2C308&ref=nb_sb_ss_recent_1_0_recent

A new No Outsiders scheme will be published April 2024.


Why students should be taught the truth about Remembrance

Selena Carty portrait

Written by Selena Carty

Cultural and Ancestral Genealogist, Global War Heritage Specialist, Identity and Empowerment Consultant and Founder of BlackPoppyRose.

I was recently asked by the British Army to contribute to its new set of school resources on Remembrance. As the founder of BlackPoppyRose, I accepted the opportunity. My aims are to enlighten all people of the contributions of African, Black, West Indian, Caribbean Pacific Islands and Indigenous communities to history in wars/revolutions and rebellions.  

So, let me ask you a question: How do you mark Remembrance Day? For me, I remember Albert Carty who served in World War I in the No’2 Construction Battalion. After arriving in the UK, he travelled across England and Scotland as part of the lumberjack battalion. He returned home after the war and became a father to seven sons. Five went on to join the Royal Canadian Airforce and served in World War II. The remembrance of families doing their part in a world that had set so many apart.

Remembrance means a connection to yesterday and the yesterdays before yesterday, which brings light the relevance of our actions today. When I think about Remembrance, I think of my mother, father, grandparents and great grandparents. I think about the legacies of family. I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the efforts made by those who made choices before I came into existence. 

There is a crucial need to improve how we explain the significance of Remembrance to young people, especially in the UK. We live in a cosmopolitan modern world where everything is moving a lot faster than I remember. Everything is now! (Like Amazon Prime deliveries, with no understanding of the framework, planning and years of innovation to make this happen.) 

The legacies that have built the worlds we see today are very often under-educated, misinterpreted or omitted. The more we do to encourage Remembrance will allow us to come together with our own unique stories and share the impacts that the changing worlds and legacies before us have had and will still have on us in the present and near future. 

To know that you are connected to something that has passed is significant to why we are here, why we speak the languages we do, why our names are what they are, why we can call more than one place our home or ancestral homes, and even the accessibility to the music that we listen to. All this enables each of us to have a unique perspective about Remembrance that we all benefit from. 

Where should children start to learn about their past? With their immediate families as well as their peers and friends’ parent are also potential sources of information teachers. Additionally, organisations like BlackPoppyRose can help point them in the right direction. We also encourage students to check their local libraries, bookshops, museums, galleries and archives as well as the internet by using key phrases or tags.

So, what more can schools do to teach pupils about Remembrance? Tell the truth about what you know. We all have a version of ‘truth’. Telling the truth resonates stronger than untruths as it allows us to identify with the world we currently live in and the legacies we have inherited from the past. It will help to understand the choices made by so many in uncertain times. We cannot change the past, but we can be open and honest about what has happened, allowing us all to work together to find improvements on things that are pre-existing and still affecting us all today.

The British Army has created a library of resources for secondary schools. To access its Remembrance resource, visit  https://tinyurl.com/ye2928v7


Anti-racism in the Early Years

Rachna Joshi portrait

Written by Rachna Joshi

Rachna is a teacher and consultant. She works with under-threes, Nursery and Reception children, and holds an MA in Early Childhood Studies. Rachna writes and speaks at events sharing experience and knowledge, empowering practitioners and provoking questions to disrupt routine practice. She supports schools by guiding educators to implement inspiring practice that reflects their classes. She works as a freelance consultant and with the Froebel Trust as a travelling tutor.

Originally published for Early Education in 2020:

https://early-education.org.uk/guest-blog-from-rachna-joshi-anti-racism-in-the-early-years/ 

Introduction

Race and racism in society is as important as ever; I am writing not only as a British South Asian who has experienced racism, but as an ally against white supremacy and anti-Black sentiment that perpetuates our consciousness.

Structural racism is insidious, and we need to look at ourselves and think about the messages we perpetuate. The racism that comes through our thinking, language and gestures shows the undercurrent of white supremacy in the ways that we perceive the world.

Context

This was written to respond to the systemic racism in education as a profession.

It is great that some people are more aware and doing what they can to ‘be anti-racist’, but this needs to continue – it’s a movement, not a moment.

There are many problems with systemic racism in Early Childhood settings, and I hope to provide some suggestions and links for your own reflective practice –I can’t tell you what to do, it is your journey and up to you to educate yourself, but I hope this helps on that journey.

Reading articles on racism may be uncomfortable, as it is an upheaval of what we know, and what is normal, and this is because ‘normal’ is inherently racist. I want to ask questions that may not be answered here, because this is a point of introspection and individual responsibility when it comes to looking after our children and being ‘players’ in a wider world. You need to ask yourself questions, consider who you are and what your call to action is for change.

Classrooms

Often as Educators we are seen as though we are already doing “the good work”, yet this topic brings about a space for deep introspection. When you set up and manage your classrooms ensure representation is embedded and not an ‘add on’. White, cisgender heteronormativity cannot be the default.

Classroom changes need to look beyond book corners and skin colour paints. Colleagues shared with me the lack of thought behind some small world people resources as the shop only provided white people. The representative resources already exist, unfortunately it is not mainstream, but this needs to change. Audit your dressing up clothes, food items and hair related products for your role play areas – ask parents to donate items. Tune into and value the voices in the classroom that come from wider communities. Consider the characters and stories that are shared – what message is being shared around skin colour, femininity and hair when using Frozen characters for example?

Development Matters and the EYFS People and Communities ELG explicitly reference “similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions” if we decipher the curriculum through this lens we may see that we should already be exposing children to a variety of cultures to provide opportunity for discussion with children. Presumably these statements are based on the research that expressions of racial prejudice peak by age 4 or 5 (Aboud, 2008). However, often we only hear about wider cultures and practices through celebrations: Eid, Diwali, Hannukah, Chinese New Year, this ‘add-on’ doesn’t provide the deeper discussion of cultures and values that encompass the everyday for the children that celebrate these festivals. What are you doing to ensure that all communities are represented and respected? And how do you incorporate these communities into your usual practice and provision? How do you ensure that your practice provides a wider perspective?

Curricula

There needs to be deeper consideration of how curricula can be decolonised, ensuring key figures are discussed and explored. It is not enough to teach the history of enslavement and civil rights (which are important stories that represent the struggle so many marginalised communities have experienced) it is about countering the narrative that to be non-white is not normal.

“Cultural capital” needs to include key public figures, artists and musicians, but also everyday heroes that children may see in the community. We want our children to have a foundation of curiosity, knowledge, and respect for differences, so that they don’t absorb the idea that the lives of black, and other people of colour are only about struggle.

Acknowledging cultural capital means noticing, celebrating, and valuing difference. Most schools celebrate white men- Samuel Pepys when learning about the Great Fire of London, Pablo Picasso, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong in the recent Moon Landings celebrations. Where are the Black people? Are we giving an accurate representation of history if the only figures we see are white men? What about Mary Seacole, Steve McQueen, Katharine Johnson, Ai WeiWei, Anish Kapoor?

To question my own biases when planning curriculum drivers, I have begun to ensure a set of questions are on the top of every curriculum document:

  • Have you addressed sustainability?
  • Have you shown a variety of families/gender roles?
  • Have you included characters and perspective from a variety of backgrounds, especially those who are under-represented?
  • Have you included stories that show a range of emotions for discussion?
  • Is there an opportunity for cultural capital?

Cultural practices are often forgotten and seen as an ‘add on’. An example might be a discussion of eating with hands vs. eating with knives and forks – some things that might be seen as a norm in one culture is the opposite in another. Have you made space for this in your classroom and your own understanding of your children and their cultures?

Reflection and Response

Are you prepared to discuss race, or answer a question on race when it occurs in the classroom and ensure you have done best for that child?

Ensure you are prepared to talk about skin colour, culture, religion so you’re not scrambling for words when a child asks a direct question about these things. Have you spoken to families to ask them how they have approached discussing skin colour? How are you ensuring families feel confident to discuss race?

Ultimately as practitioners we are familiar with constant reflection, but it takes more to look closely at the implicit bias that we perpetuate. Don’t be afraid to talk about it, but make sure you research and read up – educate yourself. Make lifestyle changes that involve taking on these wider perspectives beyond your early education practice.

Leadership

What do your leadership teams look like? In predominantly white areas there may be little diversity, but is there diversity in the content that is taught to children? Are staff aware of the wider world and implications of their bias? Are staff considering the possibility of providing only a white view of the world to children? Is there a consideration from leadership teams to reflect on systemic racism in schools and settings, and how could this be tackled? Could your schools consider mandatory staff training on Black history, global non-white-led history and open discussion of unlearning of implicit bias (by consultants who specialise in this area)?

Are you questioning decisions that perpetuate anti-blackness and racism in your school? If you are white, do you stand up for your underrepresented colleagues, who may not have the privilege to stand up for themselves?

Institutions

When Early Childhood Education institutions are questioned, the inherent tokenistic nature of BAME representation is revealed. When representation is conceived through a lens of empty diversity that leads to tokenistic representation in chairs and boards, then what message does this send, and what actual intervention does this make in challenging implicit bias and institutional racism?

The government response to including Black History and minority ethnic representation into the curriculum was that it is up to teachers to do this (see petition response). Where in Initial Teacher Training is there a discussion of systemic racism and bias and how practitioners can support BAME families appropriately? In Early Childhood academia, a privileged position to be in, majority of academics are white and therefore research continues to remain whitewashed.

A large part of the wider work to tackle racism is to look at our institutions and policies. Our institutions are built upon racist ideologies and anti-blackness. There are petitions to change how our curriculum looks at a wider policy level but these are often rejected. There needs to be a whole government strategy, that needs to be continually lobbied by all Early Education influencers and those in positions of power who are allies in this movement.

Further Reading

Blogs and Articles

Laura Henry-Allain’s article in Nursery World

Kate Moxley’s podcast discusses blackness in Early Years with Liz Pemberton and “The Early Years Orchestra” episode with Jamal Carly

An Abolitionist Coalition Grassroots Movement in Education

US based article writing about racism in preschool

Nursery practitioner David Cahn writes about allyship and racism in Early Years

Decolonising curriculums

Practitioner’s roles in decolonising curriculums

Reflection on anti-racism in schools

Making changes to the curriculum

Parliament response to Decolonisation of curriculum petition

Talking race with children and families

How to respond to children when they ask race related questions

Parents guide to Black Lives Matter

Social Media Accounts to Follow

Black Nursery Manager Instagram @theblacknurserymanager
The Conscious Kid Instagram @theconsciouskid
Jamal Carly Instagram @Jamal.Carly
JossyCare Instagram @JossyCare
Laura Henry-Allain Twitter @IamLauraHenry

Resources

National Literacy Trust Book list
Spud and Yam Irish and Jamaican musicians
Black History Resources for UK schools

References

Aboud, F. E. (2008). A social-cognitive developmental theory of prejudice. In S. M. Quintana & C.
McKown (Eds.), Handbook of race, racism, and the developing child (p. 55–71). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.