Beware of sidelining ED&I in School Trusts, Warns Sector Leading Consultants and lawyers – New Report.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) in school Trusts is too often sidelined to a few HR initiatives, according to a new report launched by consultancy Trust Inclusion and law firm Browne Jacobson. Drawing from multiple case studies, including Oasis Community Learning, the report finds that leadership must focus on fostering an inclusive culture, cautioning companies to be aware of the risks associated with dismissing ED&I as solely the responsibility of HR professionals. Instead, a fully integrated approach from all levels within the company is required to achieve an inclusive culture.

The Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in School Trusts report has been created to provide a resource to boards and executives providing guidance on how to initiate and maintain meaningful ED&I initiatives, and to disseminate insights and experiences across the sector. Utilising case studies from The Compass Partnership of Schools, Dixons Academy Trust and Oasis Community Learning, the report draws from examples of best practice of a fully cohesive ED&I strategy.

The report highlights actionable instances and experiences of organisations that are addressing gender pay gaps and promoting inclusion. The key findings are: 

  • Everyone has a role to play, ED&I shouldn’t be side-lined as an HR initiative: To achieve sustainable and high-quality work, trusts must prioritise engaging all staff members, embracing diversity, and developing leadership skills to manage inclusion effectively.
  • Boards, executives and leaders can do more to take forward the ED&I agenda: the report finds that by developing inclusive leaders at all levels is the first step in creating an inclusive culture. Achieving this requires leadership and dedication from the board, chief executive, executive team, and school leaders.
  • Building Trusts with an inclusive culture can reap the benefits of diversity: There is increasing evidence indicating that having a diverse workforce can have a positive impact on the performance of an organisation. Companies that embrace diversity, especially those with executive teams that are diverse in terms of gender and ethnicity, tend to surpass their competitors in terms of profitability.
  • Practical examples and learnings from trusts addressing inclusion and gender pay gap: the report identifies five qualities of inclusive leaders to help organisations consciously develop their initiatives: respect, authenticity, actively manage inclusion, value diversity, and courage.

Mandy Coalter, Co-Founder of Trust Inclusion, comments on behalf of Trust Inclusion: 

“Having worked closely with the education sector for many years we want to share our insights with Chairs, CEOs, HR Directors and other Trust and school leaders as to how to begin the journey to build inclusive leadership in school trusts.

Building inclusive leadership has never been more important in our sector than right now, given the size and scale of the challenges we face and the need to take all our workforce and other stakeholders with us on the journey.

The report highlights practical examples of how three school trusts have changed the way they approach leadership – Compass Academy Trust, Dixons Academies Trust and Oasis Community Learning.

We hope the report will contribute positively to the education sector, in which every pupil, parent and member of staff should feel included and to experience a sense of belonging. “

Mark Blois, National Head of Education at Browne Jacobson, said: 

"Trust Inclusion’s report underlines that the only way to truly advance the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion in the Trust’s sector, is to accept a collective responsibility that involves participation from board members, executives, and leaders at all levels. ED&I should not be side-lined as a HR initiative, a culture of inclusivity can only thrive if every member of the team is fully committed to supporting it. Browne Jacobson is pleased to support this vital work, which we hope will motivate and encourage Trusts to implement increasingly impactful and meaningful measures towards ED & I.”

Emma Hughes, Head of HR Services at Browne Jacobson, said:

“As a firm, Browne Jacobson is deeply committed to social mobility and of course equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and we are so pleased to support this important piece of work from Trust Inclusion. There is growing evidence that suggests improving the EDI with the school workforce will lead to better student outcomes. This important publication sets out three school trust case studies as exemplars of best practice with EDI and we encourage all to read and feel encouraged to take action so that we see a positive ripple of great and important change in our education system.”

Leora Cruddas CBE, Chief executive, Confederation of School Trusts, comments:

“The wonderful case studies in this report on equality, diversity and inclusion in school trusts, and its overall message of discovering and encouraging potential, should help us to create schools and trusts as places where adults and children can thrive. That should be the aim for all workplaces, but for the formative environment of schools it is even more crucial.” 

Browne Jacobson, which collaborated on the report, is recognised as a leader promoting greater diversity and inclusion within schools and the legal profession. Spearheaded by the FAIRE programme, an initiative to widen access to the legal profession, the firm has been recognised by the Social Mobility Foundation’s Social Mobility Index, ranked No.1 nationally in 2021 and 2022.

Trust Inclusion's team of experienced consultants includes Mandy Coalter, Johan Jensen, and Linbert Spencer OBE, who have almost 100 years of combined experience working with Trusts, school leaders, and Leadership Teams. The team help organisations improve their effectiveness in achieving diversity, inclusion, and equality objectives.