Paul Whiteman

@NAHTnews demonstrates commitment to furthering equality, diversity and inclusion in schools 

NAHT today (Thursday, June 10) demonstrated its pledge to furthering equality, diversity and inclusion in education by signing up to a joint statement of action and commitments.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Education can play a pivotal role in tackling discrimination in society. Through education we can start to build a truly inclusive society. Through education we can change minds, and challenge prejudice.

“School leaders have a unique and vital role to play. Positive action by leaders can set the right atmosphere in the workplace so that the full potential of all staff in the school is recognised. We must make sure that education is a sector where people from all backgrounds and experiences feel encouraged to consider teaching and school leadership as an option.

“Leaders are also at the heart of any school’s effort to make sure that pupils understand their rights and responsibilities as young citizens of a multicultural nation like the UK.

“NAHT is committed to tackling racism, prejudice and discrimination head-on and will continue to work with, and where appropriate, challenge the government and others in the education world to bring about a greater focus on equality, diversity and inclusion.”

He added: “If the Department for Education is serious about improving recruitment and retention of educational professionals from a diverse ranges of backgrounds, then it is vital that this work is embedded across all facets of its work, and is backed by appropriate funding. It is extremely disappointing that months on from the postponement of the Equality and Diversity Hub funding, we still haven’t heard how the Department intends to take forward this vital area of work.

“Whilst a sector-wide approach, is essential if we are to see true progress in this area, this really must be matched by effective support from the Government.”

The statement of commitment comes a few weeks before NAHT launches a new book ‘You Are Not Alone: Leaders for Race Equality,’ comprising personal and professional accounts from members of NAHT’s Leaders for Race Equality network. The book aims to help raise the profile of Black, Asian and ethnic minority school leaders within the system and their journeys to school leadership.

The statement also coincided with NAHT’s hosting of a webinar and Q and A session on race equality in education.

NAHT has pledged to build on its work so far, by committing to:

  • Continue to engage with (and where appropriate challenge) the Government and key stakeholders in the education sector to drive a continual and greater focus on equality, diversity and inclusion within the sector;
  • Continue to encourage school leaders to recognise and address the barriers to recruitment, retention and progression of staff with protected characteristics;
  • Continue to support members with equality and diversity work within their schools for pupils and students;
  • Expand the advice developed for members, by providing a ‘spotlight’ on specific areas, which require more in-depth support and guidance;
  • Highlight the work of NAHT’s Diversity and Inclusion group (a policy-making committee, part of NAHT’s democratic structures, comprising of elected NAHT members) through our member channels, including our magazine and website;
  • Support the growth of NAHT’s Leaders for Race Equality and LGBT+ member networks – and explore the development of additional networks based on member demand;
  • Launch NAHT’s first equality and diversity member conference in 2021;
  • Support members from our Leaders for Race Equality network in the development of their book ‘You Are Not Alone: Leaders for Race Equality’ to help raise the profile of Black, Asian and ethnic minority school leaders within the system and their journeys to school leadership.

NAHT and co-signatories together agreed: “By being transparent about our actions, we want to give confidence to pupils and families, staff and leaders and those governing that we are learning, listening and acting on their concerns and ambitions for equality, diversity and inclusion. The progress and impact of these commitments will be reviewed every 12 months and an updated statement published”.

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