Breaking Down Barriers: Using Our DEI Community to Implement Change

by Viv John

Regional HR Business Partner and ATTI Support Colleague Profesional Learning Lead

When I was asked to write a blog for our DEI community, I felt quite overwhelmed and anxious about it. That’s a little silly really with all the tasks I do on a daily basis! But for me, DEI is a huge responsibility, something that comes from the heart and requires determination to implement and influence change; to strive to create an inclusive environment for pupils and colleagues. 


Luckily for me, the DEI allies community has the heart and determination to achieve this – and what an impact they have had over the last 12 months! 


Our community happens termly, and we strive to engage with learning such as passive ableism, microaggressions in education, and exploring what Neurodiversity is for our pupils and our colleagues. We always focus on and promote a selection of celebration events from the DEI calander – Black History month, World Kindness Day, IWD to name but a few. We do this by learning about the celebration and then sharing best practices and lesson plans and assemblies. 


The last 12 months we have focused on what I call the ripple effect; creating ripples in each academy that will grow and grow and have a bigger impact when the ripples start to connect. We have definitely achieved this, our ‘soft launch’ has had an impact and we are now ready to move forward, focusing on more learning, training and breaking down barriers to create the truly inclusive community we all strive towards. 


The next academic year is full of excitement and promise around the projects we are going to deliver, such as Elevating Women, alongside understanding our data to help us support our pupils seeing themselves represented in their academy. 


Our work around DEI will never be done, there will always be learning, reflecting and implementing change, however I truly believe the more we talk, the more we break down barriers, and the more we listen, we will create a more engaged inclusive workforce and pupil environment for all. 

DEI Community Member Case Study

Chloe Stevens, The Hathaway Academy


Pupils: Agents for Change

Our Agents for Change event was a huge success.!There was positive feedback from all pupils, and the facilitators who were extremely impressed with existing knowledge. Pupils were fully engaged in the tasks, discussions, and feedback. We have had two meetings since as a group, whereby we discuss any current issues around the school and how to deal with those issues. We review and adapt our AFC action plan. We are currently working towards trying to hold a Culture Day, which will include wearing clothes to represent heritage, cooking national dishes, and culture based lessons for the day. We also aim to hold an assembly at the start of the new school year, that the Agents would like to lead. Our Agents are keen to hold a workshop, like the Equaliteach one that they attended, to share awareness and help push forward a positive change I our DEI culture here at The Hathaway academy. There are several students who come and see me to discuss becoming an Agent of Change, so I will be working on expanding the group from September.

Colleagues: PD Training

We have two PD sessions for DEI. The first led by Equaliteach, which was a very informative session which gave more of an insight of what the DEI community is about and what we do is so important. The following session I led myself, which was aimed at Microaggressions. This was a very successful session, where I felt colleagues were able to extend their own knowledge around DEI matters. It worked well, because I was able to tailor the session to our academy and our pupils, which gave the session more value. Colleagues were able to open and up and discuss their views and experiences, not only at work but in and around their communities too. This opened up a door for colleagues to be able to share, what they otherwise wouldn’t. the positive impact has allowed my colleagues to feel comfortable enough to come to me and discuss any issues around DEI. I am also able to advise how to deal with different situations. I am really pleased at the result of this and that I can continue to help and support my colleagues moving forward.

In the Classroom:

I have tried to encourage “Stop and Teach”. This means that any time around the academy, whether it is a lesson, break time, transition etc, that if certain behaviours are seen or heard we stop and teach! This idea is to be able to take an issue in the moment and discuss it with the pupils concerned, or as a whole class. I am trying to create an environment whereby everyone feels comfortable to talk, raise concerns, ask questions and have those questions answered the best way that we can.

This role does mean a lot to me and I feel very passionately about it. The DEI community meetings are extremely useful and help give me that drive to push the cause forward. It has been very helpful to share each other’s activities and resources. For instance, I was able to hold my first ever assemblies for International Women’s Day, with the help, support and ideas from my DEI community. As nerve racking as it was, it was a great success and has geared me up to hold future assemblies.

DEI Community Member Case Study

Georgia Sims, North Walsall Primary Academy


This year, North Walsall Primary Academy learned and celebrated about lots of different Diversity, equality and Inclusion such as Autism AwarenessInternational Women’s day, Kindness day and Happiness week. The children all loved taking part in the activities and the assemblies that was took place. The children made things for our DEI display board and learned about the topics.


World Kindness Day

Our children all had a leaf where they chose someone in their class to write something kind and positive about that person. The staff also choose other staff to write about this also! We then created a Kindness Tree to display all these positive thoughts.


Autism Awareness Month

Our children all had an a powerpoint to go through and there was videos too. The activity that we did was all children to have a butterfly and each year had a specific colour. The older children wrote things that what is powerful and meaningful.  With the butterflies we made them going around in an infinity sign and put we see your true colours. This would be for anyone who is neurodivergent. Be it Autistic, ADHD, Tourettes. We see you.