I think now more than ever it’s important for people working in education to share best practices and I’m really proud of the work I’ve been able to do to help embed black history and anti–racism practices in the sector.

Seeing others diversify their curriculum is incredibly encouraging.

Most recently a group of experts in the East of England all came together as part of a forum that is called ‘Equity Exchange’.

Ellisha Soanes presenting at the Equity Exchange Ellisha Soanes presenting at the Equity Exchange (Image: Ellisha Soanes)
The aim of the group is to look at ways of sharing thoughts and ideas relating to equality diversity and inclusion (EDI) in education.

Representatives from Abbeygate Sixth Form College, Colchester Institute, One Sixth Form College, University of Suffolk, West Suffolk College and Inspire Education were in attendance.

Education leaders involved in the Equity ExchangeEducation leaders involved in the Equity Exchange (Image: Ellisha Soanes)
During our first discussion, we heard about an amazing event called Culture Day that took place at One Sixth Form College.

This yearly celebration showcases the amazing diversity at the sixth form and helps give students and staff a real sense of belonging to their community.

During the day, sessions included Chinese massage and acupuncture, culture art (with Suffolk artist Lily Hammond) and Latin food cooking classes.

The community backed the event and representatives from the Ipswich Museum, Suffolk Archives and Volunteering Matters came along. 

Music was supplied by one of the BBC’s most promising DJs, Angelle Joseph, who has had recent spots on Radio 1 and Radio 1 Xtra.

And the highlight was watching individuals proudly stride up and down a red carpet wearing clothes and playing music from their country of origin.

We also heard about a campaign run by an organisation called Aspire Black Suffolk who took a group of young people to Parliament last year to engage with politicians on the subject of social justice.

This Equity Exchange meeting was the very first to take place in the East of England and is part of an ongoing campaign by the AoC (Association of Colleges).

The idea is to bring expert practitioners together and empower them to make positive change and share ideas to drive innovation and transform education so that it truly is a more inclusive learning environment for all.

My mission to diversify the curriculum throughout the region and the country by getting educational establishments to teach black history all year round is ongoing and this collaborative project is an extension of that work.

There are so many colleges who are all doing so much incredible work in terms of the diversification of education in all sorts of ways – but we can always do more.

Round table at Parliament around the black curriculum with MP Bell Ribeiro hosting the event. Round table at Parliament around the black curriculum with MP Bell Ribeiro hosting the event. (Image: Ellisha Soanes)

Thanks to these Equity Exchange meetings, ‘the dance’ as I call it continues.

As part of that tango, last week I attended an event hosted at parliament by MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Lavinya Stennett – the founder and CEO of an organisation called The Black Curriculum.

All of this work is about challenging what has gone before and making positive change in the future.

Lots of good things are happening, but so much is changing culturally and politically at such a rapid rate.

Therefore, as people working in education, we need to embrace our part in that change and strive hard to continue to make a positive difference when it comes to all matters relating to equality and diversity.