A few months ago, we were approached by one of our clients, who was a School Governor, asking if we could help with an inclusion project they wanted, to ensure race inclusion was better understood and embedded into their school. This followed on from them receiving powerful feedback from students who had suffered from racism in their school.
Having been a Lecturer myself, I remember vividly some 10 years ago sitting through inclusion training that just got it wrong. It felt like we were all being accused of holding prejudices, none of the training company had spoken to staff or students and it really missed the mark and disengaged many of us. We were determined to avoid this and make sure that although it might be an uncomfortable environment as we observed the scenarios and discussed the impact, everyone felt supported and not attacked or blamed.
So, we were of course delighted to support them. We wanted something different, something that really resonated within an educational environment, that featured younger actors, and that was based on their reality. We wanted to get this right, for this school and also for other schools we could offer this product to in the future.
Their reality has driven our desire to create a safe space for our training where we can have open discussions using our engaging drama-based approach to learning.
This has now turned into a much bigger, more important project than any of us could have first imagined. We have worked from the ground up to create a totally new inclusion product specifically for the education sector, that explores unconscious bias, race and other protected characteristics.
We began by creating a focus group – formed of ted Learning team members, parents & ex-students to talk us through how this session could be created.
We have been proud to include our amazing actor Josette Simon OBE, our friend and former student Ahmed Khan and our colleague Aggie Mutuma, of Mahogany Inclusion Partners, as we wanted to reflect lived experience of racism in the design of this project.
Our focus group have been involved at all stages of the development, keeping us in check and ensuring the content would work from a student and staff point of view.
We also interviewed over 30 people of different ethnicity including students, adults & parents to understand their experiences and stories, and how we could include these in our training session. Parents of black, mixed heritage, Asian and white children have contributed to the session to ensure it reflects the diversity of this particular school.
Their reality has driven our desire to create a safe space for our training where we can have open discussions using our engaging drama-based approach to learning. We want everyone attending this training to be able to ask questions, understand the impact of decisions, words and behaviours on others and really drive change to create a truly inclusive environment.
We have engaged new talent to write the scripts and reflect the reality that black students face. We have also worked with Lewisham Youth Theatre to identify young acting talent for our filmed scenarios that will form a key part of the training. The scripts are brilliant – real, thought provoking, written from a different perspective and totally on-brand for ted Learning. I can’t wait to see these converted into produced videos for use at the actual session.
Creating a truly inclusive culture is something that drives me every day – I want a fair society where people aren’t discriminated against because they are seen as ‘different’. We are ALL different. It’s what excites me. Making sure that in education everyone has an equal chance of success. Making sure in work all talent has equal opportunity.
This project has become a mission for us at ted Learning. To represent the unheard voices, to support schools in getting it right more often and to really help everyone understand the impact we have on others, more often than not unintentionally.
We are thrilled to be on this journey with this school, we know we will learn a lot and we know we will help this school become a more nurturing and inclusive environment for every student. We would love to hear from other schools about their journey and how we can help. Please drop me a line at [email protected] and we will be in touch.