Achieving Equality and Diversity in School

and Children’s Centre Leadership



School governors play a critical role in the development of schools. The most important work of a governing body is the development, recruitment and development of school staff. Ofsted reports clearly indicate that the quality of teaching and learning available to young people and children is most influenced by the quality of the leadership, teaching and support staff –especially important is the work of the leadership team. A strong focus on succession planning is essential given the large numbers of head teachers expected to retire in the next few years. In this context it is even more important that all who are capable of leading our schools, have the opportunity to do so. Women and those from BME backgrounds are generally under-represented in school leadership posts. Much work is underway to ensure that the profile of school staff reflects the diversity of pupil populations and there is still much to do.

This toolkit is designed to support school and centre governors in

  • raising levels of awareness around diversity and equality in relation to succession planning, and the recruitment, development and retention of all staff.
  • understanding the importance of ensuring that the school workforce is fit for purpose and reflects the diverse nature of the environments and communities the children in our schools come from and
  • ensuring the implementation of effective strategy, policy, practice and planning to achieve diversity and equality in the school and centre workforce.

Why Equality and Diversity Matter

A diverse work force- one comprised of people from a wide range of backgrounds – is a stronger and more effective one.

Although approximately 20% of pupils in our schools come from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds (BME), only 1.5% of primary and 2.2% of secondary headship appointments were from BME backgrounds (Education Data Survey 2008).

Although 85% of the teaching workforce in primary schools is female, only 68% of primary headteachers are women. In secondary 57% of teachers are women and only 37% are headteachers. Equality means that any barriers in the way of advancement to senior leadership for those under-represented, are dismantled. Equality also means that recruitment and selection procedures are transparent, unbiased and fair and appointments are solely on the basis of merit. By law institutions are now required to ensure gender and race equality. We also of course have a moral duty to ensure fairness for the greatest good of all.

East of England

The East of is one of the largest of the nine English regions in terms of area and population. It is projected to have a higher population growth than most other regions over the next 20 years with a particularly large increase in the older age group. Overall the region is 91% White British against a national average of 86.9% White British.
A closer look at the region indicates that in several of the larger towns, there is considerable ethnic diversity.

Luton is the fourth most diverse town in England. 64.9% of the population is White British against a national average of 86.9%. 18.2% are from Asian backgrounds against a national average of 4.57% Asian. Luton is home to 25% of Asians nationally and the largest group in Lupton is Pakistani. 6.3% are from a Black Caribbean background and 2.6% from a Mixed heritage.

Peterborough’s profile is fairly close to the national average for White British with 85.7% from White British backgrounds, 7% are from Asian backgrounds which Is considerably higher than the national average, 4.8% from, .1.46 from Mixed backgrounds and 1.2% from Black backgrounds.

Milton Keynes, like Peterborough has a White British profile which is close to the national average at 86.7%. The largest ethnic group is Asian with 3.7% of the population from this background. Black residents comprise 2.4% of the population and Mixed 1.7% of the population.

Bedford’s White British Population at 80.77% is below the national average. The largest ethnic group is White Other at 4.8% - with the largest ethnic group being Italian ( national average 2.66%) . 7.7% are from Asian backgrounds and 2.6% are from Black backgrounds against a national average of 2.3%.

Ipswich has a significant Mixed population with 2.3% of the population from this background against a national average of 1.3%. Asians comprise 1.8% of the population and Black communities 1.84%.

( Data Source National Office of Statistics, Census 2001)

Hence even though the majority of school aged pupils in the East of England are likely to live in a large majority white community, at any point in their lives, they may move to a far more diverse part of the region and need to be equipped to be able to work along side people from a range of ethnic backgrounds. Similarly, members of these groups may very well move beyond the towns to smaller communities in line with typical demographic patterns. Families from BME backgrounds tend to be younger than their white counterparts and are in strong contrast to the fast growing older population profile of the East of England.

Gender issues

The 2004 National College survey of female and male headteachers confirms that there are still gender- related barriers to becoming a head teacher and that there are still gender issues once in post. These are most apparent for women in the secondary sector, but female primary and special school heads also experience some discrimination on the basis of gender.

Female Headteachers views of Barriers to women becoming Heads. (Top 5 reasons)

  • Childcare responsibilities;
  • Other domestic/family responsibilities;
  • Partners career taking precedence;
  • Concerns after taking a career break;
  • Concerns about the viability of maternity leave.

Three most significant factors that helped them to headship:

  • Having opportunities to practice leadership skills through acting up opportunities, secondments or school exchanges;
  • Mentoring and advice from senior leaders;
  • Having opportunities to work with other schools and organizations.

(Evidence into Practice Guide: National College)

Other barriers include

  • Lack of confidence in applying for senior posts
  • Lack of interview skills and
  • Lack of career planning
  • Negative perceptions of headship
  • Lack of information concerning educational developments following a career break such as a maternity leave and
  • Experiencing sexism at interview.

Black and Ethnic Minority [BME] issues

Compared to the population as a whole, the teaching profession has proportionally fewer individuals from a BME background. Consequently, this imbalance is mirrored in the profile of school leaders. The Evidence into Practice Guide, What we are learning about...attractingtalented candidates for headship? and the National College commissioned report Black and Minority Ethnic Leaders led by Professor Tony Bush (2005) identifies the perceived barriers to leadership amongst BME teachers. These include

  • Experiencing racism at interview
  • Lack of confidence in applying for senior posts
  • Lack of confidence in applying for senior posts in large majority white pupil population schools
  • Disillusionment as a result of experiencing and witnessing racism
  • Concerns re work/life balance
  • Being over-represented in the most challenging schools
  • Exclusion from informal professional networks
  • Lack of support from line manager and or senior leadership team members

Recent research (Manchester University and Education Data Surveys) indicated that the school system is guilty of an “endemic culture of institutional racism” that is barring BME teachers from leadership jobs.

The DCFS response to this research states that “It is absolutely unacceptable for any teacher to be discriminated against because of their race, age, gender or religion – there is no place for it in any workplace.”

Governing Body Responsibilities

Governing bodies have a range of responsibilities in relation to

  • Community Cohesion
  • Gender equality and
  • Race Equality

The governing bodies of schools have a statutory duty to

promote positive relationships between those from different groups, eliminate unlawful discrimination and promote equality.

By community cohesion, we mean working towards a society in which there is a common vision and sense of belonging by all communities; a society in which the diversity of people’s backgrounds and circumstances is appreciated and valued; a society in which similar life opportunities are available to all; and a society in which strong and positive relationships exist and continue to be developed in the workplace, in schools and in the wider community.

Alan Johnson, Secretary of State. 2.11.2006.

Evidence into Practice

A Model Diversity Statement:

Our School values the diversity of individual talents and creative potential that every employee, potential employee and Governor bring to the school. We aim to promote and maintain a culture of diversity where appointment to jobs, reward and personal success depend solely on individual ability and performance. All employees and potential employees, whether part-time, full-time or temporary will be treated fairly with respect and dignity. Selection for employment, promotion, training or any other benefit will be on the basis of aptitude and ability.

Case study: BME Support Network, Peterborough

In collaboration with the National College, Peterborough LA is developing a programme for black and minority ethnic (BME) teachers and teaching assistants. It is led by the Headteacher and staff of West Town Primary School who are recognised practitioners in developing community cohesion. They are currently interviewing teachers and teaching assistants from BME backgrounds to establish what are the blockers and enablers to success. From this evidence they will develop a Support Network that will reflect the local issues in Peterborough and that will enable both teachers and teaching assistants to feel confident and project positive role models to others in their communities.


Young Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Black Caribbean women with children are more likely than white British women with children to aspire to senior positions

(EOC Survey)

Using the Audit Tool

The tool is divided into five sections

  1. Governance, leadership and management of succession planning
  1. Talent Spotting
  1. Development of Talent
  2. Recruitment
  1. Retaining Talent

For each of the areas there are a range of statements which can be graded from level 1 – emergent practice to level 4 established outstanding practice.

A For each statement place a tick in the column next to the level of statement which is the closest to the case for your school or centre

B Next, give each of the five sections an overall level grade.

C Identify your strengths and areas for development in each section

D Finally create an action plan to get your school to a higher level if you are below level 4 on average

Doris Neville-Davies, a governor of over 20 years experience on talent development :
“Working together, governors and headteachers
can develop internal talent in our schools and offer
opportunities to experience leadership.”
“I think we need to discuss together the plans for
staff development and look at how we are identifying
leadership potential within our schools. We need to be
looking for that potential and when talent emerges we
should be nurturing it.”
“From early in teachers’ careers we need to be giving
them the opportunities and encouragement to take on
responsibility. As governors we have a role to encourage
our headteachers and senior leadership teams to delegate
tasks in order to give others the experience of leadership.
This could also help to improve the work-life balance of
the head, which is, of course, one of our responsibilities!”
“It is important to provide a breadth of experience to
prepare teachers for further promotion. This may be
difficult, especially for small schools where there are
fewer openings. With many now working collaboratively
in groups through confederations and clusters, there is
more scope to share good practice. We can learn how
other schools are developing future leaders and the
skills of experienced leaders from across the group can
be used to encourage and guide colleagues and widen
their experience, especially if different types of schools
are involved. It may be possible to second staff to other
schools or arrange a short-term exchange to help their
development in a different environment and encourage a
sharing of expertise.”
“In response to some of these suggestions, governors may
say “but our responsibility is to our school and we do not
want to prepare good teachers for leadership only to lose
them” – which is not unreasonable. We have to recognise
that we are going to lose them at some stage and we are
going to want good senior leaders to replace them – and
we mustn’t forget that a school can be ‘refreshed’ by
bringing in new blood and new ideas. If nobody does
anything to encourage future leaders there won’t be
enough headteachers and deputies to fill the vacancies.”
“…nothing is more important for the progress of a school
than a good head teacher.”


Audit Document:Achieving Equality and Diversity in School

and Children’s Centre Leadership

  1. Governance Leadership and Management of Succession Planning

Level 1 / Level 2 / Level 3 / Level 4
1.1 / The head teacher and chair of governors provide a strong lead onsuccession planning / Succession Planning is occasionally
raised by the head teacher or Chair of governors / Succession Planning is regularly raised at governing body meetings / Succession Planning is a standing agenda item for full governing body meetings / Succession planning is a top priority
1.2 / The School Leadership team (SLT) has ensured that data analysis ( numbers and percentages) has been carried out on the school workforce and governing body / Good staffing data is available on post type but not ethnicity or gender / Staffing and governance data by gender, ethnicity and grade/post type is analysed, annually / All staffing data relating to applications, appointments and training etc is fully analysed annually / All staffing and governance data is published, shared and used to inform target-setting.
1.3 / The SLT has worked with go-vernors to develop and implement a Succession Planning Strategy ,Policy and action plan which includes training on diversity , equalities and Succession Planning for SMT and governors / There are several examples of good practice, a policy is being developed / An effective policy, plan and strategy is in place / An effective policy, plan and policy is in place which is monitored on a termly basis / An effective policy is in place which is monitored termly and evaluated annually
1.4 / The SMT and governors take action to ensure that performance management includes targets in relation to succession planning and recruitment / The Head has performance targets for succession planning and recruitment / Performance targets are in place for the recruitment or development of staffing by gender and ethnicity for all SMT members / Challenging staffing targets are in place including by gender, grade, ethnicity and disability, for all SMT members / A wide range of challenging targets are in place including staffing targets by gender, ethnicity and disability
2 Talent Spotting
Level 1 / Level 2 / Level 3 / Level 4
2.1 / Identifying talented members of staff is a core part of the ethos of the school. / The head teacher and chair of governors
regularly discuss the identification of talented staff / Most senior members of staff contribute to the identification of talented staff / Members of the governing body are involved in talent spotting. Data is available by gender and ethnicity
. / Senior members of staff and governors are very positive and proactive in a systematic way about identifying new talent and this is a high priority
2.2 / There is information available to all staff which ensures that staff are clear that SOLT members are keen to identify and develop talent / Talent spotting information is being developed with governing body involvement / Talent spotting information is displayed in the staffroom / Talent spotting information is displayed and included in induction and in the staff handbook / Talent spotting information is included inNQT training a wide range of staff
documents and displayed
2.3 / There are clear criteria for identifying talent for staff at all levels in the school.
e.g. outstanding contribution to working parties, early leadership success , successful work with parents, regular display of initiative, level of interpersonal skills, high level organisation skills etc / SLT are researching criteria
around identifying talent / SMT are developing criteria
around identifying talent / Clear criteria have been discussed with the whole staff and governors and agreed / Clear criteria have been discussed with the whole staff and governors and agreed and are subject to termly monitoring and annual review
2.4 / Assessment of talent is carried out fairly , objectively and consistently using a range of transparent measures .e.g. 360 degree leadership assessment, Briggs Myer, at a centre, self selection against agreed criteria etc / The head and chair of governors have discussed assessment of talent / A system of talent assessment has been identified with staff involvement / A system of talent assessment has been implemented / A system of talent assessment has been implemented, evaluated and monitored

3 Developing Talent

Level 1 / Level 2 / Level 3 / Level 4
3.1 / Continuing professional development (CPD) is led by a senior member of staff and adequately resourced. / CPD is led by a senior teacher / CPD is led by an assistant head or deputy head teacher and involves governors / CPD is led by a deputy head /assistant head teacher and has a moderate budget / CPD is led by an assistant head/ deputy head teacher and has a substantial budget
3.2 / A working group with cross school and governor representation, decides on CPD priorities annually and consults with staff before finalising priorities / CPD priorities have been discussed at a whole staff meeting / A working group has been established to agree CPD priorities / A working group, including a governor has been established to agree CPD priorities / Women and staff from BME backgrounds are well represented on the working group and equalities issues are fully addressed
3.3 / A CPD policy - including fair access to opportunities, assessment of staff satisfaction levels for performance management and appraisal and access to career planning ( e.g. see NCSL online tool)- is in place.