EDI must come from the top if it is to permeate everything that we do and will take time
A thought leadership blog shared on behalf of Alex Russell, Inclusion Roundtable Chair and CEO, Bourne Education Trust
There is a graveyard of ignored toolkits in schools reflecting the latest initiative or priority. This is because we like to “get things done” and then move on with the business of running our schools. Inclusion (and equality and diversity) must not follow this well-trodden path.
The education sector faces significant challenges related to equality, diversity and inclusion (‘EDI’). Matters that have been highlighted nationally and internationally include issues of harassment, dignity and inequality, concerns around performance gaps and matters related to mental and physical health equality.
However, change will all too easily be tokenistic unless we win the hearts and minds of our leaders.
Why is this important?
Not all children and young people in Surrey are placed in an educational setting that is right for them. Consequently, they do not always experience provision where their emotional and learning needs are met, where they feel included, valued and invested in as an individual.
Equally, not all schools are equipped or, sometimes, prepared to create settings, structures and processes to privilege inclusion for both children and staff. However, our Covid experiences have changed our understanding of what the key needs are for our communities. We need to reflect this is our schools and the way we run them so that everyone can thrive.
All schools and their leaders will have different starting points. Deciding that EDI is a priority is the starting point closely followed by extensive consultation with you stakeholders. You will be surprised by some of the findings but listening to your stakeholders, no matter how uncomfortable, is essential to getting you strategy right. A consultation period of between 4-6 months is not uncommon.
Your delivery plan for EDI should sit alongside your organisation’s strategic plan which will inevitably have opportunities for all pupils and staff at its heart. Any EDI delivery plan should aim to cover issues that impact on your community, including issues that are specific to pupils and staff separately and those which apply to both.
Build on this with a strong commitment to EDI through collaborative delivery of inclusive practice in all that you do do.
Over the next few months the Inclusion Roundtable will be issuing advice and guidance which school leaders may find useful in devising their strategy to improve EDI. Please contact Alex at RussellA@bourne.education or on 07766030345 if you would like to find out more about the work of the Roundtable.
Note* Protected characteristics - age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex, sexual orientation.
Alex Russell is Inclusion Roundtable Chair and CEO Bourne Education Trust
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