Focus on Education November 2021 No. 4

EDI (Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion) ensures fair treatment and opportunity for all. It aims to eradicate prejudice and discrimination based on an individual or group of individuals’ protected characteristics.

Inclusion. What does that mean?

Inclusion means creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and valued. An inclusive environment can be enhanced once we are more aware of our unconscious biases (if they exist) and learn how to manage them.

Equality. What does that mean? At its core, equality means fairness: we must ensure that individuals, or groups of individuals, are not treated less favourably because of their protected characteristics. Equality also means equality of opportunity: we must also ensure that those who may be disadvantaged can get the tools they need to access the same, fair opportunities as their peers.

Diversity. What does that mean? Diversity is recognising, respecting, and celebrating each other’s differences. A diverse environment is one with a wide range of backgrounds and mindsets, which allows for an empowered culture of creativity and innovation.

There is a phrase above which some may not have heard much about before – protected characteristics. In 2010, The Equality Act identified protected characteristics as the following:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Discrimination on the grounds of any of these characteristics is illegal. Discrimination can take many forms including direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, bullying, harassment and victimisation.

All organisations have a responsibility to ensure that everyone feels valued, welcome, and equal.

Let’s make a few things clear:

Equality, inclusion, and diversity is not about being a woke warrior.

It is not only a legal requirement, but it is fundamental to the mission of every school.

It is about ensuring that our community is driven by understanding and compassion.

It is also about making sure that everyone feels safe, welcome, and not judged.

I have a vision for our school community which is the same as my vision of how society at large should be. It is a vision where black, white, lesbian, gay, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, disabled, single, married, old, young are equal in every way. The list is endless.

It is a community where all people, every student, every staff member, feel protected, empowered, cared for and equal.

By forging this in our school, and getting it right here in our community, we are empowering our students to get this right as they go about their daily lives, and as they leave HGS, they will become beacons of hope, ethical leaders and a Force for Good. This is why our Equality and Diversity committee is so important and Mr Mohsin and I look forward to our next meeting where we as a group are contextualising the protected characteristics mentioned above in order to raise awareness and understanding.

Stay well and safe.

Be kind to yourself and others.

Best wishes,

Dr Bird