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Equality, diversity & inclusion

Free e-learning on equality, diversity and inclusion to be made available to boards


The National Governance Association (NGA) and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) are working together to create free e-learning for governing boards of schools and trusts on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

Providing the training through e-learning means it can be made widely available to governors, trustees, governance professionals and executive leaders in schools and trusts across England. We currently expect that the e-learning will be available in April 2022. The new modules will be available to all schools and trusts free of charge through NGA’s Learning Link platform as part of the trial site as well as to all Learning Link subscribers.

Emma Knights, NGA’s chief executive, said:

“Along with ASCL we identified the need for some universally available training for governing boards on equalities, diversity and inclusion some time ago. We had hoped to obtain some funding to develop a suite of learning, but having failed to secure that, we have taken the decision to fund this ourselves in a way that will reach as many people as possible. There are a quarter of a million volunteers giving their time and care to their local schools or academy trusts, and our research shows that they are committed to their own development in order to do the best by the pupils in their communities. There are many topics that new governors and trustees must have knowledge of, but EDI is one which can be difficult for boards and leaders to know where to begin. We intend that this will provide that place for all schools and trusts, helping them to take their first steps in addressing these issues if they have not yet begun to.”

This builds on EDI work that NGA has been doing for some time including a research report on Increasing Participation in school and trust governance published in June 2021. While many governing boards are considering and addressing EDI across their schools and trusts, research through NGA’s member surveys has also identified a demand for training to help some boards with understanding and taking practical action on EDI.

What will the e-Learning cover?

The new module will build on an existing Learning Link module which sets out the legal aspects of EDI and the governing board’s responsibilities including to pupils and as employers.

There will be two units in the new e-Learning module which will concentrate on how to discharge these important responsibilities and the behaviours which are needed to support this:

  • Exploring the EDI landscape within education beyond the Equality Act, looking at the possibilities of what can be done in schools and trusts beyond taking a compliance-led approach to inclusion. Moving beyond the legislation to a space where EDI is commonplace within schools and trusts will ensure that all stakeholders within the setting can be their authentic selves and thrive. 
  • Governors and trustees will explore what it means to conduct their duties through an EDI lens. Being aware of the sites, situations and strategic elements of where an EDI lens can be deployed will be integral to good governance.

Who is creating the e-Learning?

ASCL has commissioned two expert consultants in EDI to create the content of the modules – Penny Rabiger is a co-founder and trustee of the BAMEed Network, a MAT trustee and school governor, and Hannah Jepson is a business psychologist and co-founder of LGBTed. They will be supported by Adelaide Chitanda, NGA’s senior advice officer and policy lead for EDI, and Tara Roseblade, NGA’s e-learning instructional designer. The ASCL and NGA teams will then review the content to ensure it reflects governance practice, and design the learning to be interactive, engaging and practical.

Why is the training needed?

Governing boards have a significant role in encouraging diversity and ensuring equality across schools and trusts: in determining ethos and culture; when recruiting executive and senior leaders; as employers of all staff; and in the direct impact on pupils (eg oversight of the curriculum, monitoring of behaviour and exclusions, and outcomes).

Listening to NGA members as well as other governors, trustees and executive leaders who have engaged with us on EDI over the last few years, there is a clear need for governance-specific training to be available so that all governance volunteers and professionals understand their role and the impact they can have.

What is the aim?

Providing training to governing boards will increase the understanding of EDI and increase awareness of its multiple factors and wider structural issues to influence the actions and reflections of the people who make significant decisions about schools and trusts. As the governing board is responsible for setting the culture of the organisation, recruiting executive leaders and making decisions on policies – this increased knowledge and understanding can be applied by governors and trustees in their role. This is just one small part of a solution to improve equality, diversity and inclusion across the education sector and society.

NGA is also exploring creating small additional units on each of the protected characteristics.

What other resources are available?

There are other forms of training and learning that boards can draw on in addition – some of these are signposted from our EDI project page.

NGA has plenty of guidance, resources and tools to support boards with their role in the meantime. Visit our EDI project page to access these.

How to get involved

Once the modules are available, we welcome local authorities, dioceses and multi academy trusts sharing and using them across their schools.

Contact us if you have a query about the e-learning.

This page clarifies information originally published on The Guardian about free training being offered to governors and trustees.