I just met with an amazing senior leader in an Essex secondary school this morning. Our conversation together inspired me to write this, because, this way of working is not difficult.
School leaders should not be guilted into Anti-Racist education. By making someone do something by persuading them that is it wrong not to do it, can only amount to a superficial engagement without the hope of longevity or authentic commitment.
Over the last couple of years, private, public, and voluntary sectors have begun to look at their practices, ethics and moral leadership. For some, this was nothing new, but for others this has been a mind altering, behavioural challenging, and emotional managing feat. Knee-jerk reactive practices like having diverse members of your staff being bannered around the organisation and on your website or even taking advantage of stock images to give the impression you are inclusive or w*** (a word I refuse to spell out) has not done anything for the real need to understand all you can about your staff, children and parents you have the pleasure to lead. That in-depth understanding is crucial if you are to understand their needs, challenges, triggers and aspirations of whom we teach, lead or support.
One thing I always told myself as a teacher was I couldn’t know everything, and in order to ensure I get it right, I would do my homework and research before standing before a class of young minds listening to my every word.
As a leader, one who led by consent, I would ensure I knew everything about the people I was leading, their strengths, aspirations, areas for their own development, personal challenges (we all have them) and more importantly why they choose to be led by me. Why should they follow me if I do not know who they are?
Maharaja Ranjit Singh, is a leader of the Sikh empire and one who has been admired by many as one of the greatest leaders of all time. This partially sighted leader, in a time whenthe battle for survival and independence was a normal occurrence, brought people from various religions together in a united force against others who tried to take advantage of those they sensed weakness in. His leadership was not defined by personal wealth or all things that glittered, he believed that all men were seen equal before God.
Knowing your people, what they need, physically, emotionally and spiritually and what they bring to the organisation, are the pre-requisites to great leadership and equities driven inclusivity.
Since 2013, Learning Workz, the creator of The Diversity Mark, have been working with schools to support their journey to diversity, inclusivity, and equalities organisational behaviour. Anti-Racist education, incorporating authentic leadership practice, has remained the foundation of our work and the scaffolding that supports all of our schools to climb to becoming a centre of excellence. We have three schools who are close to their summit and as a result, they have brought many schools into the light which shines on diversity, equalities and inclusive anti-racist education.
We spent 30 years refining our approach, and nearly 10 years ago we packaged it. 70 schools are on this journey of change.
If you want to know more about our work, follow us on LinkedIn ‘The Diversity Mark’ in a light blue square. Or visit www.diversitymark.com.