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My #BAMEed Pledge – Why Diversity In Teaching Matters

#WomenEd has done a lot to raise the profile of the need for more female leaders, but black, Asian and minority ethnic educators are still facing systemic barriers that need addressing

Hannah Wilson
by Hannah Wilson

In the last year I have been involved in a lot of conversations about the lack of diversity in the education system, especially in leadership, as I passionately believe that our school staff bodies and leadership teams should reflect the communities we serve.

Through the two teaching schools I was working with at Harris and the one I am now working with at GLF we have successfully bid for three Diversity and Equalities Grants to support educators with the hidden characteristics of race and gender to progress on their leadership journeys.

I am also a volunteer coach for the DfE’s Women Leading in Education pledge. The DfE is funding 80 grants around the country, plus the eight regional networks, most of which are focused on #womened and #BAMEed.

I was also invited to speak at the SSAT conference in November about our Diversity and Equalities grants and how we hope to affect change in the system through our leadership programmes targeting women leaders and BAME leaders.

Despite the conference being held in the diverse city of Birmingham, there was only one person of colour on the speaker list. When I presented it was to a room of 100+ predominantly white, male headteachers, which exemplified exactly why we need to elevate and amplify these issues.

As well as being on panels at BETT, Academies Show and Teach 2017 doing exactly that, here’s how I’m going pledging my support to #BAMEed this year.

The Teach First BAME network

Last year, Jess Boyd contacted me asking if I’d coach her through this scheme. She had galvanised a group of Teach First members who wanted to create a BAME network within their community.

With Ndidi Okezie at the helm of this forward-thinking and outward-facing organisation I knew this would be a ground-breaking opportunity with which to engage with and support. I went to the Town Hall meeting in November, which was an open forum to launch this network – well done Jess and the team for a thought-provoking event.

Why I’m supporting the #BAMEed community

Through our activity I met and became friends with Allana Gay, a #WomenEd Regional Leader, and I’ve also gotten to know Amjad Ali through grass-roots and CPD opportunities over the last few years. They, and the #BAMEed community have made it very clear that it is very inclusive and collaborative – welcoming anyone who wants to support and contribute to the movement. Just like #womened needs our #heforshe supporters, the #bameed community needs white allies to help amplify the voices of the under-represented.

Why does #WomenEd care?

Beyond the obvious moral imperative, intersectionality is an issue. If you are #BAMEed and #womened then you have twice the number of barriers blocking your progress into and through leadership.

At our #WomenEd Unconference in October we organised a #BAME panel to initiate and elevate discussions about race, with a panel of high-profile educators including Ndidi Okezie, Bennie Kara, Jaz Ampaw-Farr, curated by Sameena Choudry, with Angela Browne, Naureen Khalid, Jo Penn and Candida Gould amongst the audience.

As a group we reflected and discussed some of the issues facing women of colour in education. This safe space incubated the discussion – we processed our thoughts and articulated our concerns/visions for the system.

As a result of these discussions Cath Murray, a journalist from Schools Week, contacted me as she was conscious that the three articles that came out of our event were written by white men. She was keen to counterbalance the voices being represented.

Subsequently, she wrote this brilliant piece on ‘Is Race the Elephant in the Room?’ and Ndidi Okezie from Teach First went on to write this opinion piece on ‘We need to get over the taboo of talking about race’.

Schools Week gets it – they have done shout outs for mores submissions by women and by BAME so that all experiences are represented.

Leadership Matters also gets it – I have helped them recruit more BAME leaders to be ambassadors as they knew they were under-represented.

Ross McGill, aka Teacher Toolkit, gets it and has recently published a list of #101femaleeducators to follow on Twitter. It caused a bit of a stir, despite his best efforts to raise the profile of female tweeters.

He will soon be publishing in collaboration with #BAMEed a list of #101BAMEeductors to follow too – it will be interesting to see how this is received in the Twitter world.

We need to keep raising these issues until everyone gets it.

Hannah Wilson is Headteacher of Aureus School and Co-Founder of #WomenEd. You can follow her on Twitter at @Miss_Wilsey, on StaffRm or on her headteacher blog, thehopefulheadteacher and Talking Heads blog.

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