Esther Mustamu-Daniels portrait

Written by Esther Mustamu-Daniels

Esther Mustamu-Daniels has 20 years of teaching experience working in London and the Middle East as a Class teacher, Education officer, Middle Leader and DEI Lead. Currently working at British School Muscat, Esther co-leads the DEI work across the whole school.

Many international schools are on or starting their journey of awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion. Because cohorts in these schools are so diverse by nature, often staff feel that there are no problems and that racism/discrimination is not a factor in the schools. This is usually very far from the truth.

Be brave; be vulnerable and start the challenging and honest conversations that are needed for change to take place.

Because of recent high profile events, diversity, equity and inclusion is a necessary space in all educational settings and that international schools, who send their alumni to universities all over the world, would do well to support, inform and equip students with knowledge and language to engage with the different topics around DEI. 

How do schools start tackling, delivering and addressing these needs? 

Start with the staff: build open conversations. It is important to know that not everyone is at the same place on their journey and also that there are different opinions. Gathering the ‘tone’ of your school as well as allowing safe spaces to share experiences is a key factor. What is important is that this is not only talk; action is also needed. This is an emotional and difficult journey so be sure to provide space and time to reflect and learn. 

Action: Build a plan of how you will move forward. You may need to conduct a survey or gather some research and data from your school’s stakeholders to help you focus on what the priorities are in your specific setting. Are there specific needs or policies that need addressing first? This will help to focus on each step and also assign roles or tasks to specific people. This should be flexible so that it can be adapted along the way. 

Leadership: Is there someone leading the work? Do SLT support and value the work being done? Does your leadership understand the why and how? This is important because without this it is extremely difficult to implement significant change. Leadership needs to take accountability for the work being done in their school. Is that person being paid?

Support: This is also an essential element. Who is supporting the people completing the work? Are they being emotionally supported as well as practically? The people leading or sharing this work may have been personally impacted or triggered by the issues raised; how are they being supported?

What is important to note is that action in any form is good and a positive step in the right direction. Addressing and tackling these issues will take time and for long lasting impact will need to be embedded in the culture of your school or environment. This is not a badge or a t-shirt; this is a cultural shift of readdressing mindsets. 

If you are involved or starting up; learn, speak and support. Being an ally and everyone doing their part is imperative. There is so much work being done at the moment. Twitter is an excellent source of examples, webinars and organisations that can support you on your journey. 

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