How West Buckland Can Lead the Way on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

EDI Lead and Head of Boarding, Matt Robinson explains how open conversations on EDI are the first step in creating a culture where everyone feels valued

Conference attracts Headline key note speakers

I am proud to be one of two EDI leads at West Buckland School, being instrumental in producing a strategy whose mission is to create a culture where all members of the WBS community area aware of the protected characteristics and create a school were everyone feels valued and has a strong sense of belonging.

As part of this drive, I’m very excited to announce that we will be hosting the first EDI conference for students in North Devon, on 13th March 2023.  More information on how to get involved with this conference will follow shortly.

Our key note speakers are Farah Nazeer, CEO of Women’s Aid and Anne Marie Christian, a spokesperson for safeguarding and EDI, who frequently delivers at national and international conference and has been highly commended as a leading woman in the public sector. This conference will further demonstrate our commitment to EDI and kick-start important conversations in the South West.

 

 

This is the Law

It is a legal requirement (Equality Act 2010) of all schools to recognise the nine protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation.

However, that is a minimum requirement and we have a vision to become a school which not only educates but also prepares our students for life in a multi-cultural world.

As a forward thinking school, that has welcomed students from across the globe for decades, we have an opportunity to create a difference.  As a teaching community, we can look through another lens, improve our empathy in all aspects of diversity, deepen our knowledge of ourselves and confidence in dealing with a critical concept of our profession at present.

The Statistics

On 5th December, we will be asking all members of the school – both staff and students – to take part in our annual EDI survey which enables us to gain valuable information about the community in which we live and work.  With this in mind, it’s important to look at some interesting statistics:

  • 32.1% of secondary pupils are recorded as being of Black and global majority heritage (WBS is 23% non-white)
  • 17.2% of secondary pupils are recorded  as having a first language other than English (WBS is higher than this)
  • 85.9% of teachers are white (approx. 89% of WBS staff)

(ref: Leeds Beckett University)

The last statistic, alone shows, starkly, that the diversity of the pupil population is not being reflected in the teacher profession.

Throughout this year the EDI group (consisting of both staff and students) has held a number of ‘Open Conversations’, discussing topics such as “Identity – what does it mean to you?”. Both Katrina and I were very impressed by the thoughts that members shared about traditions, society, social media and how these, together with friends and family, help to shape who we are.   There was also a clear recognition of how this evolves as we gain a greater sense of self and meet new people in different situations.

 

Let's Grasp the Opportunity

An example of some excellent work that is being done is that of Professor Vini Lander, Director of the Centre for Race, Education and Decoloniality (CRED) and Professor of Race and Education in the Carnegie School of Education, and Professor Heather Smith at the University of Newcastle.  They have been carrying out research aimed to create a framework to support a lasting culture change in Initial Teacher Education and Training, to ensure that teachers entering the profession are equipped with the correct tools and knowledge to understand how racism operates in education in order to address the negative experiences and outcomes for Black pupils.

I feel privileged to be in a position where I can influence the progress that the school makes going forward, where a culture of EDI continues to be embedded in all aspects of school life, where the school is confident in developing global and socially aware young people and where we, as a school, contribute to the local community sharing and engaging knowledge, and we can attract and retain high quality pupils.

Updates on topics discussed in the Open Conversations will appear in our weekly Newsletter.

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