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Creating an Equality and Diversity Working Group in School

Collaboration and co-operation are vital in school improvement. Research shows that working together leads to the success of initiatives. Therefore, involving the school community in your equality and diversity strategy can be an important tool in creating success. A Working Group can highlight issues that the school leadership may not be aware of and disseminate information to the staff and parent and carer body. A working group can provide insights and help the school avoid tokenism and take a thoughtful and joined up approach to their equality and diversity work.

However, the Senior Leadership needs to be fully committed to creating positive change, have clear aims and undertake preparatory work prior to creating the group. It is vital that the expectation is not that people from minority groups are expected to come up with all the solutions and lead on creating change within the school. The hard work has to be undertaken by SLT and the group is there to provide support and feedback.

Things to Avoid

Many Equality and Diversity Working Groups fail to get off the ground as the school doesn’t have a clear idea as to what it is asking, people are afraid to get involved as they feel that no actions will be taken or that all the work and/or all the blame for things that go wrong will fall to them.

If the school is successful at recruiting members to the group, but it lacks clear purpose and strong leadership, meetings can lack purpose and groups inevitably fall apart.

Make a Clear Statement to the School Community

Inform the school community of your commitment to creating positive change and that you want them to be part of the solution. Demonstrate that there is a passion and enthusiasm from the top. Be clear that the Senior Leadership Team is committed to putting time and money into this work and taking action to create positive change.

Highlight that you recognise that there is room for improvement; that you want to be a listening organisation to better understand the issues of inequality and exclusion which exist within the school; and develop a collaborative approach to developing solutions which work for everyone.

Utilise newsletters, the website, internal communications and parents and carers meetings and staff meetings to reach out with this message. Here is a video from Hanover Primary School inviting parents and carers to become involved in their anti-racism work: https://www.hanover.islington.sch.uk/a-statement-about-our-anti-racist-strategy/

Undertake Preparatory Work

Before any successful equality, diversity and inclusion strategy can be created, the Senior Leadership Team needs to understand the school’s current position with regards to equality, diversity and inclusion and recognise what they want to achieve in their equality, diversity and inclusion work.

This could involve conducting an audit of your existing provision including policies, procedures, monitoring data and curriculum and conducting surveys and/or focus groups with staff, parents and carers and pupils to find out more about their experiences in the school.

You can create a working group at this stage to provide feedback on questionnaires and ways of reaching the wider school community. Members of the working group can support with tasks such as learning walks around the school to highlight issues or focus groups to share their experiences.

Alternatively, the working group can be created once this baseline work has been undertaken and the school has a draft action plan on which it is looking for feedback, but this should always be the starting point.

Membership of the Group

The size and composition of the group will depend on the size of the school and the purpose of the group. However, there should always be at least one member of SLT who is a member of the group and attends the meetings in order to provide a clear channel of communication and ensure that the group has the power to effect change within the school.

Although the group size should be limited to a manageable number, it should ideally contain a cross-section of staff from different departments or roles. This may mean that the school cannot just rely on volunteers to put themselves forward, but Senior Leadership may need to approach people if it is not something that they have thought about. You may wish to provide incentives for involvement such as an increment or free period to free up time to allow people to be involved.

It may be that the school chooses to have a separate group for staff and for parents and carers or that parents and carers are invited in for specific meetings in order for people’s time to be utilised more effectively.

Create Terms of Reference

The group needs to have clear Terms of Reference. These should set out:

  • The purpose of the group
  • The involvement from SLT
  • The expected length of commitment of members
  • How often the group will meet
  • The expectations and limits around confidentiality
  • Ground rules for meetings

 

Some sample Terms of Reference are included at the end of this document

Share the Group’s Successes

Remember to feed back to the wider school community the changes that have been made because of the group. If this is not shared, it gives the impression that the time people have invested has not been worthwhile.

Ensuring that the group is made up of a cross-section of the school can help in taking information back to the wider school community but include time in whole staff meetings and parents and carers events to feedback the group’s successes.

If everyone knows what has been going on and what the benefits have been for the school, it will be easier to inspire new members to join the group moving forward.

 

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Equality and Diversity Working Group

Terms of Reference

 

Introduction

XXXXX School is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion throughout its practice and creating a safe inclusive environment for all staff, pupils and parents and carers. This working group exists to support the effective development and implementation of the school’s equality, diversity and inclusion strategy.

Purpose

The Group will:

  • Raise awareness of and provide advice on issues of equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Highlight points of concern and areas for action to the Senior Leadership Team
  • Support the development and implementation of the Equality and Diversity Action Plan
  • Monitor progress against the Equality and Diversity Action Plan
  • Represent the views of the wider staff and parent and carer body
  • Champion equality, diversity and inclusion throughout the school

Membership

Membership is open to staff from any area of the school and should reflect a broad cross-section of experience, knowledge and interests. The Group will be chaired by a member of Senior Leadership Team and will be attended by HR representatives.

Meetings

The group will meet every half-term, with a pre-circulated and pre-agreed agenda. A note of the meeting, any recommendations and associated action plans will be circulated to all members following each meeting.

Confidentiality

Any personal opinions or experiences that members share will remain anonymous in the meeting minutes and any plans that arise from discussions.