Reflections on attending race, language, power and belonging training 

The work of making Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) a more inclusive organisation is of real importance to us. As such, we are always looking for opportunities to learn about how we can do this.  

Through our networks we heard that the Bradford-based Race Equality Network and their partners The Teapot Collective were offering training on race, language, power and belonging. This was such a good opportunity to learn more about this area of work that three of us – Helen Skyes (Head of GHWY), Amy Wilson and Maria O’Sullivan (Senior Project Managers) – were keen to sign up.  

We want to take this opportunity to reflect on what this training meant for us.  

Amy Wilson 

Part of what I enjoy about working in the education sector is the opportunities to learn about the many different areas that influence how the sector works and engages with people. So when the opportunity presented itself to learn and reflect on the area of equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) I was keen to take part.  

I must admit that I went into the training with a little bit of apprehension as I wasn’t sure that I had enough knowledge of this area to contribute. I needn’t have been nervous though, as the training was based on us learning from one another and having a safe space to discuss ideas and concerns without judgement. Listening and learning from all the attendees gave me the opportunity to reflect on improvements I can make to my leadership style to support all the team in GHWY and progress our work in this area.  

I hope that everyone in GHWY knows that I am supportive of a working environment where everyone can express their thoughts and ideas constructively and that we can all trust one another to listen and resolve concerns and then take action – and the area of EDI is no different. I know I still have lots to learn when it comes to this area of work, and I want to continue to ensure GHWY has a supportive, safe environment where everyone can have open conversations, learn from one another and put theory into practice.  

Helen Sykes 

I was really pleased to hear about this training. Having GHWY become a more overtly anti-racist and inclusive organisation is something we have been talking and thinking about, and this felt like a useful next step to take. The training particularly seemed an opportunity to start applying some of the learning from my Masters in Inclusive Practices (which I’ve been studying part-time since October 2020) – challenging assumptions and thinking more about our own positionality as practitioners – in more work-applicable ways. 

On a personal level, it is important to me that GHWY is an inclusive organisation that recognises and supports diversity. What I have taken so far from what we’ve been learning in the training is the importance of moving away from binary thinking and taking better account of multiple perspectives on the same issue or challenge.  

What I want is for GHWY to become a place of psychological safety for staff, which may mean getting out of our comfort zones: where we have the confidence to respectfully provide supportive challenge to each other, with empathy and compassion, so that our practices – and the outcomes for those with whom we work – continually improve.  

I know that I do not have all the answers, but also that I don’t need to: I am surrounded by committed and engaged staff who bring their own thoughts and ideas. As an organisation, we need that input from staff at all levels to thrive.