So yesterday I took on the personal and professional challenge of presenting at #TEDxNorwichEd.
You can watch my #TEDx talk on Diverse Dreams here:
My original transcript is detailed below (I missed a few bits out and improvised by adding the anecdotes at the end in!)
Martin Luther King had a dream, a big dream. He had a dream about social integration not social segregation. He spearheaded making that dream a reality and creating a land of equal opportunities.
We all have dreams. Big and small. I have diverse dreams. I have dreams about diversity.
Before I share my dreams with you I would like to share my realities with you.
I have taught and led in South London for 12 years and invite you to come on a journey with me to visit one of these schools. As we go on this journey I want you to focus on your senses and the details, zooming in on the faces and listening to the voices of the different people who we meet.
- We meet in Tooting near the market – we hear a variety of different languages being spoken in this cultural melting pot.
- We jump on a bus – we see a range of different people from different places.
- We are greeted at the school gates by the SLT – 3 white male school leaders.
- We are guided across the playground by Nikkita our guide -we hear a cacophany of different languages and accents being spoken.
- We are shown through reception – we notice the beautiful black and white photos of happy children creating memories of micro-moments.
- We enter an English classroom – Year 8 are studying war poetry, the walls are covered in images of war poets and war soldiers – all white men.
- We stop in the corridor to admire a big, bold, bright display – Nikkita explains it is October so it black history month, the month we celebrate diversity.
- We meet the Senior Leadership Team – 3 white men.
- We notice the leadership photos and Governing Body photos on the boardroom wall – predominantly white men.
- We sign out and leave the school, our final impression being the black and white photos.
The realities of our education system.
Despite beautiful black and white photos of beautiful black and white children celebrating diverse communities framed on the walls and plastered on our school websites and prospectus, most of our schools are more like a Dulux colour chart – our schools get paler (and maler) the higher up the hierarchy you progress. Sadly, this leadership model does not reflect the communities we serve
I have taught in schools in South London for 12 years, schools which are predominantly populated with children from diverse backgrounds 55-60% to be precise. In 3 schools, on 3 leadership teams, 3 boardrooms and only had 2 BAME SLT colleagues, both women.
What message are we sending to our young people when black women clean our schools and white men lead our schools?
In our schools we advocate a growth mindset for learning but do we advocate a growth mindset for leading?
How are we inspiring the next generation to be anything they set their hearts on?
So I have diverse dreams, I have dreams about:
- Diverse classrooms – where teachers with different cultural experiences share their cultural heritage.
- Diverse curriculum – where the writers, poets, scientists, historians we are study are from a range of different backgrounds.
- Diverse corridors – where displays celebrate the global majority instead of the ethnic minority.
- Diverse role models – where a range of visitors and speakers who represent our diverse society are invited in to inspire our next generation of teachers and leaders.
I have dreams about:
- Diverse Senior Leadership Teams – who challenge our systemic barriers.
- Diverse Governance – who champion our diverse leaders.
- Diverse politicians – who understand our diverse communities.
- Diverse policy makers – who promote our diverse society.
Different faces in each of these different places.
Diverse thinkers making diverse decisions about our classrooms, our schools, our education system being made by a group diverse leaders who represent the diverse community who will be affected. Not group think by the privileged elite.
I dream about diverse champions:
- Who all take collective responsibility for under-representation.
- Who we all challenge the unconscious biases.
- Who all champion and celebrate difference.
I dream about diverse changemakers – where we all make the invisible visible, where we all showcase the hidden figures in our schools.
Women need #heforshe advocates and BAME need white allies to champion for change.
So, how do I want us to inspire the next generation?
I want us to all inspire the next generation by dreaming about diversity:
- By not just dreaming about diversity, but by making these diverse dreams into diverse realities.
- By talking about diversities, not just diversity, we will inspire the next generation.
- By appreciating that diversity is more than just a difference in skin tone.
- By looking beyond the visible differences and seeking out the invisible differences too.
In my diverse dreams:
- Our school system inspires a diverse workforce where diverse people become professionals
- Our multi-cultural schools are led by multi-cultural school teachers and school leaders
So I ask you all to
- Open your minds
- Open your eyes
- Open your ears
- Open your hearts
- Open your mouths
By connecting with our values, by living our values we are enabled to actively seek to change – if we value diversity then we need to live diversity – our behaviours and our actions need to reflect it too.
We need to see it. We need to say it. We need to challenge it. We need to champion it. We need to believe it.
If as a society we truly believe in and standby diversity then we need to ensure that diversities drive our decision making and our actions.
So I demand you all to #beboldforchange. To be white allies.
- Together we are stronger
- Together we are taller
- Together we are bolder
By being bold for change, we can ensure that we achieve meaningful diversity.
By being bold together we can affect systemic change by inspiring the next generation.
By inspiring the next generation we will open doors and create opportunities for a diverse workforce.
I hope that we will all begin to realise not my, but our, diverse dreams.
Together, let’s inspire a diverse generation.
Leading the Diversity and Equalities Grant for 75 #BAMEed leaders has been eye opening. At our launch in South London, we caused a stir. BAME students walked past and came back to check out what was going on. They had never seen such a density of black and Asian people together before. The delegates found it entertaining and commented -they only used to seeing a group like this when there is trouble, they think we are starting a riot – but we are creating a revolution.
I have been asked to speak at 3 national events in the last 2 months to speak about Diversity and Equality. When I checked who else was on the line up via the draft programme, there was no BAME representation. I challenged the organisers and refused to speak unless they recitified this.
There are 27,000 Headteachers in the UK, only 270 are BAME. We believe there is only 1 BAME CEO in the UK school system. Approximately 8% of our teachers are BAME, 1 in 4 of our students are BAME but you only have a 1/100 chance of becoming a BAME Headteacher.
I also blogged via StaffRm #womened about my journey and experience of public speaking: https://staffrm.io/@misswilsey/FPprXtamJI
Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher
Currently feeling hopeful about:
- Challenging our school communities to champion the multiplicity of ‘diversities’ and not just ‘diversity’
- Calling more ‘white allies’ to be change agents and champion #BAMEed and Diverse Leaderssr
Currently reading and thinking about:
- Being Black in Education Does Matter – the TES piece by a good friend Angela Browne, one of the BAME Headteachers affecting changing in the system and smashing glass ceilings every day: https://www.tes.com/news/tes-magazine/tes-magazine/being-black-education-does-matter
Currently feeling grateful for:
- Jaz Ampaw-Farr for challenging Natalie Scott and I to submit an application for #TEDxNorwichEd – it is ‘Because of You’ my dear!
- Amjad Ali, Jen Hart, Jaz and Natalie as the #TEDxNorwichEd team -you are a fab tribe to be part of.
- Amy Harvey and Leah Stewart – we couldn’t have asked for better coaches and champions.
- Annemarie Williams – your advice and constructive feedback on my content and delivery but much appreciated.
- Faye Kilgour, Action Jackson, Nick Corston and Julie Hunter for traveling to Norwich to be cheerleaders us.
- Everyone online who has tweeted and commented words of encouragement and support.