Hannah Wilson portrait

Written by Hannah Wilson

Founder of Diverse Educators

I get asked a lot to work with schools to help them shape their DEI infrastructure. There is not a one-size fits all approach as it depends on the size of your school and staff/ student bodies. But a helpful way of thinking about it is to parallel it to the team structure you have for safeguarding – a named lead on SLT, a deputising team, an attached governor but an expectation that all staff are trained, vigilant and take collective responsibility. 

As a former start-up headteacher, I apply the same concept to staffing DEI as I did to growing a school staff model year by year – map out what you want the long term staffing structure and stakeholder map to look like and use it as a shadow to capture what you have in place and set yourself targets by term, by year of how you will grow the team and distribute the leadership.   

Some school-level roles to consider putting in place, over time to create the infrastructure to bring your DEI strategy to life: 

DEI Strategic Lead (like a DSL)

This is the person who has DEI in their job title. Ideally they sit on the SLT so they can work with the strategic plans for the school. 

DEI Operational Lead (like a DDSL)

This is the person who deputises for the DEI Strategic Lead. They often sit in the MLT and are part of the curriculum and/ or pastoral team. They might have a specific remit or share the responsibility and co-lead on the strategy.

DEI Governor (like a Safeguarding Governor) 

This is the link person on the governing body. Someone to represent the governors but to also build the bridge to the school, furthermore to support and to be a critical friend to the DEI leader. 

DEI Working Party

This is a group of staff champions and ambassadors, they can sit anywhere in the staff structure, but it is important to invite everyone and see who steps forwards. Non-teaching staff need to be invited and included as well so consider when the meetings take place. 

DEI Student Ambassadors

This is a group of students who are the advocates and activists in the school. They might already be prefects, student council reps or involved in student groups like an anti-racist group or a LGBT group. It is a great way to create new leadership roles for students.

DEI Parent and Carer Champions

This is a group of parents and carers who are the advocates and activists in your community. They might already be involved as your parent governor, as your parent association or as your parent helpers. It is a great way to engage parents and carers who might be the critical friends of the school on these issues. 

Some trust-level DEI roles to consider if you are working at macro scale:

A lot of trusts we work with are asking all of their schools to nominate/ appoint a lead for DEI and then they create a horizontal group across the group of schools to bring these representatives together to look at trust-wide DEI needs. There are some key functions to make sure you include in this group such as someone from HR who is looking at the people strategy and recruitment practices.

Some other things to consider:

The language used to frame each of these roles and groups is important and needs to be discussed at length. 

  • Are you using DI, EDI or DEI as your acronym?  What are the nuances of each and how do they frame your commitment?
  • Are you using leader, champion, ambassador, head of or director as the title? What are the nuances of each and what do they say about the power/ scope of the role?
  • How are you remunerating the role? If you have not given time and money to this role, why not? Would you ask someone to be a SENDCO or DSL without additional allowances?
  • How are you resourcing the role? Does the DEI lead have a budget that they are responsible for?
  • How are you investing in and training the DEI team? Does the DEI leader have leadership training coaching and/ or mentoring in place? Are they being set up to succeed or fail in this role?
  • How are you safeguarding the DEI team? Does the DEI leader have supervision in place to look after them and their mental health and wellbeing to mitigate the emotional tax of the role?  

Some signposting for further support:

We have collated job descriptions and personal specifications for different DEI roles to help you frame them. Find out more here:   

https://www.diverseeducators.co.uk/diversity-equity-inclusion-dei-leaders/ 

We have a DEI leaders network on different social media spaces including a DM group on twitter and networking groups in our Mighty Network community space: 

https://diverse-educators.mn.co/feed?autojoin=1 

We have designed and we deliver a 1 year DEI leaders programme, there are 10 monthly virtual sessions for each cohort. Find out more here: 

https://www.diverseeducators.co.uk/our-dei-leaders-programme/  

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