July 11, 2022Comments are off for this post.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Series: Disability in Schools

Welcome another blog post in our EDI mini-series! Here, we focus on the national data we gathered during our 2020-21 review of staff EDI to share how people with specific protected characteristics experience working in our schools - with this week’s highlight being focusing on disability in schools.

Current Backdrop of Disability in England's School Staff

For those who don't know, in 2020-21, we ran England's most extensive study of equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) among school staff. We reviewed the experience of over 16,000 staff members from 381 schools, 33 central trust teams, and 50 trusts. We asked these staff members about the whole workplace experience, from recruitment to on-the-job experiences and advancement, looking at how people with different protected characteristics feel about their time working in schools and trusts. These included sexual orientation, ethnicity and race, gender, religion, and disability, the latter of which is the focus of this piece. 

Interestingly a quick search online for disability within England's schools tells you a lot about how being disabled changes the perspective of a pupil's time during education. For example, Citizens Advice has a great post on why "schools must not discriminate against a pupil because of their disability," and gov.uk's landing page provides fantastic signposting for SEND education, including the green paper published earlier this year. Yet, the experience of school staff with a disability seems an often overlooked experience. Despite 18% of the adult population in Britain having a long-term illness, impairment, or disability, only 0.5% of the workforce identifies as disabled; this may be why such issues go undiscussed. So in this post, we're using our data to highlight the experiences of those staff in England with disabilities. 

What are the key differences between disabled and non-disabled staff experiences?

14% of disabled staff think their background and identity might be a barrier to progression, which is more than double the proportion of non-disabled staff who feel the same. 

These findings match research undertaken by the University of Cambridge, which states, "Disabled teachers in England face significant discrimination at work and barriers to career progression, a study warns." As a trust leader, this is a valuable factor to consider when hiring, considering people for promotions and creating leadership teams.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Series: Disability in Schools 
GRAPH 
In this graph, we see the the data related to the question "How likely is it that your background and identity might be a barrier to advancement in your current workplace?"
The focus of this graph, shows that out of the negative responses 14% of disabled respondents felt quite/very likely that their background or identity might be a barrier at their workplace.

How likely is it that your background and identity might be a barrier to advancement in your current workplace?

Our research showed that while most staff felt comfortable with the recruitment process, there's more to be done to ensure that groups with different protected characteristics are supported and comfortable throughout the recruitment process. For example, 65% of disabled staff felt comfortable discussing additional needs during the recruitment process, far lower than their non-disabled peers.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Series: Disability in Schools 
GRAPH 
In this graph, we see the the data related to the question "How comfortable did you feel discussing additional support you may require to complete this role?"
This data highlights that 65% of disabled school staff felt that they were very/quite comfortable discussing additional support.

How comfortable did you feel discussing additional support you may require to complete this role?

Non-disabled staff are also pretty confident that recruitment decisions are free from bias, with 8 in 10 stating their confidence. However, just 6 in 10 disabled staff feel confident. 

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Series: Disability in Schools 
GRAPH 
In this graph, we see the the data related to the question, "How confident are you that recruitment decisions are free from bias in your workplace?"
The main statement this graph reflects is that 62% of disabled staff felt very or quite confident decision were free of bias in their workplace.

How confident are you that recruitment decisions are free from bias in your workplace?

Overall, our research showed that only just over half of all staff, 57%, surveyed feel confident that decisions impacting promotions are made without bias in their workplace, with the experience for disabled staff worse than the rest of the staff body. When we looked further into the topic of promotions, we found that more than 4 in 10 disabled staff would not feel comfortable applying for a promotion they were formally qualified for.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Series: Disability in Schools 
GRAPH 
In this graph, we see the the data related to the question, "How comfortable would you feel applying for a promotion that you were formally qualified for in this organisation?"
This graph reflects that 72% of disabled staff felt very/quite comfortable when applying for a promotion they were formally qualified for.

How comfortable would you feel applying for a promotion that you were formally qualified for in this organisation?

In addition to experiences and challenges relating to equality, diversity, and inclusion in their day-to-day work, we also asked respondents about career prospects in their school or trust, and their recruitment experience when joining the organisation. Here we found that less than half of disabled staff feel that advancing their career in their current organisation is compatible with their needs and responsibilities.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Series: Disability in Schools 
GRAPH 
In this graph, we see the the data related to the question, "How confident are you that advancing your career in this organisation would be compatible with your personal needs and responsibilities?"
This image of a graph highlights that 60% of non-disabled staff were confident that advancing their career in this organisation would be compatible with their personal needs and responsibilities compared to 45% of disabled staff.

How confident are you that advancing your career in this organisation would be compatible with your personal needs and responsibilities?

More than three-quarters of non-disabled staff feel comfortable discussing additional support with their line manager, compared to less than two-thirds of disabled staff. Knowing what additional support is needed can be difficult as it can come in many different forms. From person to person, what this additional support looks like can be very different. For example, one respondent remarked that, 

"From induction day onwards, there wasn't as much communication as I'd have liked. It made it difficult as a neurodivergent person as I had to ask questions to people to ensure I understood. I was also asked to introduce myself to new people without support which is quite overwhelming."

It's listening to experiences such as these that help enable you to understand where your staff needs support! 

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Series: Disability in Schools 
GRAPH 
In this graph, we see the the data related to the question, "How comfortable do you feel discussing additional support or special arrangements with your line manager?" 
This data highlights how 63% of disabled staff felt very/quite confident discussing additional support/special arrangements with their line manager.

How comfortable do you feel discussing additional support or special arrangements with your line manager?

Lessons for trust Leaders

Our data shows that the education industry needs to represent and be accessible to all, as it currently isn't, and there's a disparity in experiences. As Ruth Golding, Founder of DisabilityEd UK, commented in our report, "Every disabled person will tell you ableism is rife, every non-disabled person will disagree. "

That's why it's essential to listen to those with lived experiences of disabilities to find out what your organisation does or doesn't do well. For instance, what non-disabled people might think treats everyone equally may actually be harming their attempts at the inclusive environment they set out to create. Ruth Golding describes in our report by saying:

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Series: Disability in Schools 
INFOGRAPHIC 
This infographic features a quote from Ruth Golding Founder of DisabilityEd UK which states: 
"If a person is a wheelchair user, their access needs would include a lift and not stairs. Stairs would be equal; a lift would be fair."

"There is also an important distinction between treating people equally and treating people fairly. For disabled people, treating people equally – and making no reasonable adjustments for them – can mean that in practice, disabled people are not being treated fairly. If a person is a wheelchair user, their access needs would include a lift and not stairs. Stairs would be equal; a lift would be fair."

If you as a trust or school leader would like to know more about how best to support your staff and ensure they get the best work experience possible. We recommend heading to the DisabilityEd UK website, as they are an organisation that raises awareness of how to make education accessible by supporting disabled educators to get the reasonable adjustments they need.

Or, if you'd like to find out more about how your disabled staff perceive their experience in your organisation learn more about taking part in our Staff Equality, Diversity and Inclusion survey.

June 29, 2022Comments are off for this post.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Series: Sexual Orientation 

In 2003, a policy that prohibited the discussion of homosexuality in schools (Section 28) was repealed, meaning staff and teachers are free to disclose their sexual orientation if they wish. However, there is some evidence that whilst staff are legally allowed, many individuals across England still feel our schools and trusts have a way to go before they would consider them completely inclusive of those within the LGBTQ+ community. Interestingly, it's estimated there are 50,000 LGBTQ+ teachers in UK schools, but almost no openly LGBTQ+ headteachers or senior leaders.

How does this affect your school or trust? Well, in 2020-21, we ran England's largest study of equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) among school staff. We reviewed the EDI experience of over 16,000 staff members from 381 schools, 33 central trust teams, and 50 trusts. We asked these staff members about the whole workplace experience, from recruitment to on-the-job experiences and advancement, looking at how people with different protected characteristics feel about their time working in schools and trusts. During this research, we gathered data from staff who identify as heterosexual and those who identify as LGBTQ+  to compare their day-to-day experiences.

As a result, in this blog, we're shedding light on this data again in support of Pride month and as a follow-up to our recent webinar at the Diverse Educators DEI Leaders Conference event. 

Current Backdrop of Inclusion: Sexual Orientation within England's Schools

Our research found that most staff felt their workplace is committed to promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion, with 80% of staff overall responding positively to this question. However, a smaller proportion of LGBTQ+ staff believe their school/trust is committed to promoting EDI compared to straight staff.

EDI Sexual Orientation: Responses to "In practice, how committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion is your workplace?"

In practice, how committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion is your workplace?

What Are the Key Differences Between Staff Members?

Staff experience is similar between groups with different sexual orientations for most elements of school life. Yet, there is a difference when asked how inclusive their workplace is. For instance, in our data we uncovered, LGBTQ+ staff were 3 times as likely to have experienced comments, jokes, or behaviour they perceived as offensive. This data matches similar experiences reported from the LGBTQ+ news outlet Pink News in 2020, where ¼ teachers reported facing homophobic discrimination within schools.

EDI Sexual Orientation: Responses to "How often have you experienced comments, jokes or behaviour at work that you perceive as offensive?"

How often have you experienced comments, jokes or behaviour at work that you perceive as offensive?

We also found that while almost all heterosexual staff felt comfortable with their background or identity during the recruitment process, only 8 in 10 LGBTQ+ staff did. This sentiment matches research Stone Wall did into LGBTQ+ issues in the workplace across Britain; in all industries here, they found LGBTQ+ staff looking for work often face discrimination when applying for jobs.

EDI Sexual Orientation: Responses to "How comfortable did you feel with your background or identity in the recruitment process?"

How comfortable did you feel with your background or identity in the recruitment process?

In our review, we found that more than three-quarters of heterosexual staff feel comfortable being their true self. This is compared to just two-thirds of LGBTQ+ staff, and 11% didn't feel comfortable at all being their true self in the workplace. This disparity is perhaps no surprise to those in the education sector, as in 2020, The Guardian reported that one LGBTQ+ teacher had to live a double life. 

EDI Sexual Orientation: Responses to "How comfortable do you feel being your true self in the workplace?"

How comfortable do you feel being your true self in the workplace?

8 in 10 heterosexual staff felt comfortable discussing additional support they might need, and this is compared to 7 in 10 LGBTQ+ staff. While this difference isn't huge between heterosexual and LGBTQ+ staff, it indicates that trust and schools could do more to help ensure staff feel comfortable enough to talk and get the additional support they need. 

EDI Sexual Orientation: Responses to "How comfortable did you feel discussing additional support you may require to complete this role?"

How comfortable did you feel discussing additional support you may require to complete this role?

Lessons for Trust Leaders

If you'd like to understand better how staff from the LGBT+ community perceive your school or how you could approach things differently, here are a few things we recommend.

Firstly, in our EDI report, Hannah Wilson from Diverse Educators shared some questions for school leaders to consider, when it comes to increasing inclusion in their organisation. She asks you to ask yourself: 

How are you communicating your commitment, your progress and your impact?

How will you celebrate diversity all year round instead of in different weeks or months?

How will you explicitly make your workplace more inclusive?

How will you diversify your leadership team?

How can you make your advertising more inclusive?

In addition to this, Diverse Educators encourage teachers to make a network or support group where they can talk about LGBT issues and use this to show that LGBTQ+ voices matter. Check out this individual's LGBT proposals for school and trust leaders from Diverse Educators - which include such things as: 

  1. Using inclusive language

One example Jared Crawley gives is: "When asking about a colleague's weekend or personal life in the staffroom, be mindful of the pronouns they use to describe their partner. If they do not specially describe their partner as 'he' or 'she', they make be indicating their partner is of the same sex. Never assume someone is heterosexual and is attracted to the opposite sex." On the other hand, if you'd like to make recruiters feel more comfortable during your process, info.recruits recommend using gender-neutral language in recruitment messaging. 

  1. Having visible support for your school or trust's LGBTQ+ community

This could include giving teachers a choice to wear LGBTQ+ badges/pins or have LGBTQ+ lanyards or displaying the Pride flag inside and outside your school.

Making your school or trust more inclusive to sexual orientation/LGBTQ+ community infographic.
  1. Educating yourself to understand the LGBTQ+ perspective further

Jared recommends a few books to help with this, including Shaun Dellenty's 'Celebrating Difference. A Whole School Approach to LGBT+ inclusion and Catherine Lee’s ‘Courage in the Classroom: LGBT Teachers share their stories’.

Finally, if you’d like to know more about how your current staff feel in order to make the appropriate changes we’d suggest offering an anonymous survey - like Edurio. 

November 5, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Into the Loop: Setting Goals

In this “Into the Loop” series of blogs we will provide you with the tools you need to start using data for school improvement — from the initial self-reflection to the collaboratively designed action plan.

In the previous blog we explored what you might want to consider before taking on a journey of evidence-driven school improvement. This time we start the work by setting clear goals.

Read more