An update from the Chartered College Diversity and Accessibility Strategy Group
Teaching is ‘the most important profession in the world’ (Francis, 2019, p. 1), a profession that transforms lives (Twiselton, 2018) and one that many teachers enter with a strong sense of social justice and a desire to help others to succeed. ‘Society needs great teachers’ (Peacock, 2018, p. 126), and the Chartered College of Teaching is here to support teachers and advocate for the profession. This involves asking challenging questions about equity and inclusion in teaching. We know, for example, that teachers from minority ethnic backgrounds are underrepresented across the profession, particularly in leadership positions (Tereshchenko and Mills, 2021; Harrowell and Banton, 2021) and that women leaders are underrepresented (Porritt et al., 2021). In the editorial of the spring 2021 issue of Impact, our peer-reviewed practitioner journal, Professor Paul Miller (FCCT) posed the following questions:
How do schools support staff?… How fair are school policies and practices to all staff? Do schools create an institutional habitus where all staff have equal opportunity to achieve and to thrive?Miller, 2021, p. 3
Which teachers get rewarded and recognised for their efforts? Which teachers’ voices are marginalised, silenced or overlooked? How do school leaders create an equity-based culture of recruitment, retention and progression for all?
These questions encourage us to reflect on and address the barriers to developing a diverse, equitable and inclusive teaching profession that fosters a sense of belonging for all.
What is the Chartered College doing to support the development of an inclusive profession?
The Chartered College provides a platform for members to share their experiences and expertise, enabling learning across the profession. We are engaged in an ongoing process of listening to our members, seeking out the voices of those who may have been marginalised and celebrating the achievements of schools across the country who are working to support the development of inclusive practices in the curriculum and school leadership.
Since January 2021, a diversity and accessibility strategy group of Chartered College staff members have been working to develop actions to support the profession in becoming more inclusive. This work has been supported by a Council Diversity and Inclusion Group made up of elected members of the Chartered College Council and Chartered College members with expertise in different aspects of diversity and inclusion. The following intentions guide our work:
- We are working to further understand the structural inequalities that exist in education and we are committed to advocating for change so that teaching becomes a diverse, equitable and inclusive profession.
- We aim to create an environment in which all voices are heard and respected and everybody is valued individually, strengthening our collective work as an organisation.
- We are committed to being accessible so that everyone can engage with us without encountering barriers. We are working to understand and overcome barriers to access.
By listening to and learning from our members, we have taken the following actions to work towards these intentions:
Monitoring the diversity of our membership and governance structure is important to benchmark against external data (such as that collected by DfE) on protected characteristics and better understand our members. To do this, we developed a voluntary, anonymised survey, which is currently being enhanced and rolled out to members on an ongoing basis. The results will help us to inform our work and identify areas for improvement.
Partnerships and networks
We are working to partner with organisations who share our values. Recent activity has included:
- headline sponsorship of MTPT project conference ‘The Mother of All Pay Gaps’ in March 2023
- joint webinar held with MTPT project, with their research on the ‘motherhood penalty’ informing MyCollege and Certificate in Evidence-Informed Practice content
- sponsorship of BAMEed network and Institute of Educational and Social Equity conferences
- partnership with The Difference – with membership offered to ‘Difference Leaders’ of inclusion/in APs
- joint webinar held with the National Association of Hospital Education.
Publishing and online learning
In Impact and across MyCollege, we’ve published articles by our members and other expert practitioners and researchers on different aspects of diversity, inclusion and decolonising the curriculum. These topics are tagged to make them easier to find – so far, we have 68 articles on diversity, 105 on inclusion and 23 on decolonising the curriculum. New content is commissioned with diversity, accessibility and inclusion in mind. For example, the Content Editorial Board of our Early Childhood Hub includes members with expertise in inclusion, decolonising the curriculum and supporting engagement with local communities.
Our online courses, all free to members and available on our Learning Hub include:
- Decolonising and Diversifying the Curriculum
- Refugee Education
- Leading Inclusive Schools.
Each course includes several modules, featuring expert commissioned articles and case studies from a range of schools and educational organisations, highlighting the work taking place across the sector to foster a sense of belonging for all staff and students.
We’ve also recently improved the accessibility of MyCollege, our member website, completing an accessibility audit, addressing the issues raised and publishing a website accessibility statement to explain the issues and ongoing developments.
Communications and events
Our revised brand guidelines support accessibility and inclusion, with increased use of captioning in video and social media content and an increased focus on representation and visible diversity through member case studies.
Topics and speakers for our events are selected with respect to representation and diversity, with recent events on anti-racist practice in the Early Years, supporting the linguistic and socio-emotional development of refugee and asylum-seeking children in UK schools and the wellbeing of minority ethnic teachers.
We have established our own research ethics panel, consisting of academics, Fellows, Chartered Teachers and dedicated members representing the interests of individuals with protected characteristics. The approval process requires all panel members to pay particular attention to the interests and needs of research participants with protected characteristics.
All our research surveys now include the option for respondents to provide data on protected characteristics. Since May 2022, 1,380 participants (out of 1,670) have provided details on their background allowing us to better understand the characteristics of survey respondents and target underrepresented groups where needed.
A staff self-efficacy survey has also been developed, rolled out and analysed to identify staff training needs.
We are working to ensure that our Chartered programmes are inclusive and accessible to all. We continually monitor and review the diversity and representation of our contributors and speakers for reading lists, event speakers and online content.
In addition, we have:
- commissioned case studies for registration and assessment units from candidates with a diverse range of backgrounds, subjects, phases and settings
- focused on representation in advisory groups, e.g. for the Mentor advisory group we actively recruited for members from underrepresented groups
- reviewed assessor training and moderation process in order to reduce bias on our assessment board
- identified key skills and knowledge for recruiting new board members to ensure underrepresented groups are targeted and we can reduce bias
- included a diversity and accessibility survey to be sent out annually to assessors
- introduced more transparent policies for exam access and candidate support arrangements, including a more accessible RPCL process and 25 per cent extra time for those who have special educational needs, disabilities or medical conditions
Recruitment and retention
Internally, we’ve been working to develop as an inclusive organisation and employer. Some of our key actions include:
- developing a more concise application pack, making it more accessible for neurodiverse candidates and including links to our benefits and values
- updating our statement on diversity that articulates our specific actions and goals
- providing a covering letter template
- advertising roles on ‘Find a job’, a free government job board for people with disabilities
- anonymising application information
- attaining the Disability Confident Employer Award
- implementing a people and culture strategy to support staff wellbeing
- rolling out an annual employee survey
- developing a staff induction course for all new joiners, including e-learning on a range of topics to promote a shared understanding of language and behaviours around diversity, accessibility and inclusion.
Your professional body
In the long term, we want to see a teaching profession that is representative of society as a whole, where individuals of all backgrounds feel welcomed, aspire to join and can thrive and progress in their careers. We want to support the development of inclusive practice across all phases and settings, underpinned by a curriculum that broadens and deepens students’ knowledge and develops skills in critical thinking, enabling them to recognise and challenge all forms of discrimination.
The actions we’ve undertaken so far are part of an ongoing effort to become a more inclusive organisation that represents all teachers and advocates for an equitable profession.
Please take one minute to complete this member survey to ensure that your membership continues to work for you.
Francis B (2019) From the editor. The Profession 2019/20: 1–5.
Harrowell Y and Banton A (2021) Professional development for career progression: Through the lens of ethnic diversity and gender. Impact 13: 20–21.
Miller P (2021) From the editor. Impact 11: 1–4.
Tereshchenko A and Mills M (2021) The retention and progression of teachers from minority ethnic groups. Impact 11: 74–77.
Peacock A (2018) Why teachers matter. The Profession 2018/19: 123–126.
Porritt V, Hannay L and Plummer P (2021) Deliberate disruption: Issues of gender and diversity. Impact 11: 65–59.
Twiselton S (2018) From the editor. The Profession 2018/19: 1–5.