The subject of diversity, equity and inclusion has shot up the agenda of our discussions in the last year, both within the education sector and across society more generally. We have seen responses big and small from across organisations and institutions, with many pledges and statements of action. There is reason for optimism about the opportunities for progress in addressing institutional racism, as well as discrimination based on other protected characteristics. But there is also a concern that the well-intentioned statements will not really translate into action; will serve as a ‘box ticked’, and give leaders a false sense of security that progress is being made.
We avoided making grand statements as a Trust. We have been in a period of renewed learning and reflection. And, we have been thinking about the most impactful ways of being in action.
Big Education is about a powerful vision; a belief that ALL students and young people deserve an expansive education, one of the head, heart and hand, that equips them to change the world. We are change makers in our very being, and are rooted in our schools in areas of London (Southwark, Newham and Greenwich) where our communities are made up of a dynamic mix of cultures, races and experiences. With long standing commitments to being inclusive and celebratory of our rich diverstiy, we are now pushing ourselves to become truly anti-racist, and to understand what else we can do to live this truth.
We have been helped by so many in our endeavours. Jeffrey Boakye, a former teacher at School 21, has inspired us with his book Black, Listed and wider ideas. Hashi Mohammed, one of our trustees, has led powerful conversations about race and social mobility drawing on his brilliant book ‘People like us.’ Adrian McLean and Hannah Wilson of Diverse Educators, have facilitated learning sessions for us as part of our Big Leadership Adventure, informing and creating safe spaces in which to ‘get comfortable in the uncomfortable’. We are grateful and continue to learn and seek to improve.
We know that we have a role as leaders in the sector in putting our work ‘out there’. We have thought hard about how best to do that in a way that models our head, heart and hand approach – avoiding talking in the abstract and wanting to connect with authenticity to our work, and practical application. We also are committed to learning with and from others as part of a community. That is why we are launching this blog series in collaboration with Diverse Educators, as a way to showcase a range of voices, giving space to share examples of practice, personal reflections and calls to action.
We hope this series gives an insight to the hopeful actions being taken by educators, and provides inspiration to others. To begin with, we will be publishing blogs written by staff in our schools, as well as leaders on our Big Leadership Adventure programme, and warmly invite your thoughts, feedback and reflections. We will then be inviting our wider network to contribute by sharing their ideas on our Big Thinking site. We are conscious that the space on social media platforms is dominated by similar voices and diverse perspectives are underrepresented. We wish to amplify the voices of everyone, and diversify the stories we read as we scroll through our online feeds.
We do not hold ourselves up as exemplars, and are aware there is still a huge amount more work for us to do. But, we are ‘going there’ (as the brilliant Karen Giles would say) and reflecting, having the conversations and getting into action. Let us know what you think.
In collaboration with @DiverseEd2020, this blog series, is a way to showcase a range of voices, giving space to share examples of practice, personal reflections, and calls to action #DiverseEd
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