The Global Equality Collective (GEC) was founded on the belief that achieving equality will ensure a better, fairer, more prosperous society for all. Over three years of research took us all the way back to before birth, where a spectrum of imbalance lays out a map for our lives. With an online community of over 15,000 and a collective of almost 300 Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) experts, we have developed the GEC App – the world’s first application for DEI for schools and workplaces. Our constant aim is #SmashingStereotypes, to interrupt these maps of imbalance, challenge norms and fight for equality for all people.
Launched at the end of 2020, the GEC App has now impacted over 35,000 students – from early years to post-16 settings – in one term. The GEC App works as a digital framework for diversity, equality and inclusion settings built on an online platform, making it accessible to all school staff. It is research led, and provides a 360-degree assessment with results, and then has an inbuilt eLearning Hub of over 35 modules for professional development. Dr Lauren Spinner (Associate, UCL) and Dr Aife Hopkins-Doyle (University of Kent and University of Surrey) led the research team for the GEC App pilot. Over 300 people took part in the research and then it was piloted with schools across the UK, from primary and secondary to further education.
Below are edited extracts from interviews illustrating how some teachers are using the GEC App to close equality and equity gaps for their staff, students and communities (names have been used with permission)
Laura Evans, AHT, Woodbridge High School
What issues with DI were you facing at Woodbridge High School, and how did the GEC help?
Knowing where to start in finding credible research, strategies and leaders in a particular field. The app helped us have an accessible platform to get resources to support our understanding and inform our whole-school approach to a particular area. We used the e-Learning modules in a similar way to the ‘toolkits’ on the EEF website – selecting content to launch training from these modules with staff at specific points in the school year.
The GEC Manifesto helped us to inform ours. We took aspects that we really agreed with and edited to fit our context.
Why is the GEC App of benefit to teachers? How has it benefited you and yours?
The initial benchmarking tool enabled us to see where key areas of focus were for us (for example, celebration of people with disabilities and looking at effective ways to support the career development of part-time workers). The survey outcomes from this were cross referenced with student surveys on ‘equality’ and used to create our equality manifesto and action plan.
What has the impact been of using the GEC App?
Increased visibility and discussion around protected characteristics. Greater collaboration – a working group has been established with stakeholders in different areas associated with protected characteristics (e.g. LGBT borough champion, gender equality group, BAME Rep and PSHE coordinator). The aim is to meet each half term to review and reflect on progress with our equality action plan.
Scott Hayden and Sky Caves, Basingstoke College of Technology
Do you think this is an appropriate way to implement change in your setting and why?
Yes – particularly in the current climate with COVID, it’s more difficult than ever to get staff participation in physical groups or meetings, and even in ‘normal’ times the working patterns and disperse nature of teams and departments in an FE environment makes it difficult. A digital solution is a great step to ensure everybody has the means to participate in conversations, improve their own understanding and practices and influence change regarding equality and diversity at the college.
What did you like and why?
1) The entire premise and its potential to change culture and perceptions – as well as being a fantastic idea, I think from the very beginning, by giving our staff access to this resource, it shows that the college is committed to continual improvement and also giving staff a voice on matters of equality diversity and inclusion. Even before the app has been fully utilised, it will have an impact on perceptions, culture and morale.
2) Intention – it is clear from the language and tone throughout the app that it has come from a place of genuine passion, empathy and morality, unlike some products of a similar scope which have a very tokenistic, insincere, ‘something your HR can roll out to prove your commitment to equality diversity and inclusion’ vibe about them.
Claire Moran, Headteacher, Latimer Primary School
Why did you sign up to the GEC Membership and Mark App?
Equality is an essential aspect to our school’s vision of ‘developing responsibility’ and something our staff are passionate about. We wanted to be involved with this exciting development from the very beginning so we could help shape how the app and membership mark could work for primary schools. We also wanted to look at our own staff structure and perceptions alongside innovating and developing our curriculum to be more inclusive in addressing equality issues – if we can’t walk the walk, we don’t want to be hypocrites!
What were your first thoughts on the design and content?
Loved the design and functionality of it. The way it saves everything and how quickly the app responds means non annoying techy issues. Love the design, the range of images and media in the library and the tone of the app. It’s not ‘judgey’ and not too formal, it feels like having a chat with some really down to earth, but knowledgeable folk who know their stuff and can guide you through misconceptions that you or staff may have. It feels different, in a really good way.
We hear about gender pay gap and equality policies but when do we really interrogate such things? Just completing the self-assessment gave so much food for thought; comparing the employee responses gave real insight into how people honestly felt, rather than just assuming the general mood of the staff.
What three things did you like and why?
Knowing that there are learning models and a research library available to all staff users, which can lead to positive change not just for the workforce, but for the curriculum and experiences of the pupils and parents.
How innovative and accessible it is – a practical tool that can help you to consider the school as a workplace in relation to equality and where improvements can be made.
Knowing that the GEC is behind it – a collective of forward-thinking, research-informed educators and businesses who can drive real change across the sectors.
How far do you think you are on your journey personally and professionally when it comes to DEI?
How do you think improving staff attitudes impacts on DEI for your students and families?
How would the GEC App help your staff team improve DEI?