Unity Howard, New Schools Network and Leora Cruddas, Confederation of School Trusts

2020 has been a year like no other. The coronavirus pandemic has shaken our lives at every turn.

At the same time, organisations have been awoken to social change movements, particularly following the tragic killing of George Floyd in the United States and the subsequent wave of protests across the world. It has been a time to pause, to take stock, and to think critically about our own role in promoting diversity in a sincere way.

New Schools Network (NSN) and the Confederation of School Trusts (CST) are committed to work that will take us from promoting diversity to playing an active role in growing a pipeline of diverse future leaders. To do so effectively, we are working with a range of stakeholders to ensure meaningful, longlasting interventions. This is the first in a series on diversity produced by NSN and the CST. It celebrates six trustees from
Black and minority ethnic backgrounds, who reflect on their lives and experiences, and what the education sector needs to do to improve diversity.

We are grateful to Matthew Syed for his introduction for this piece, adapted from his work in Rebel Ideas. His messages are clear. Diversity is not just a tick box exercise. It will not be achieved through a diversity statement on a website. It does not mean just respecting or appreciating different viewpoints, it is embracing the value of diversity as a culture. This process starts from the top, from the trust board.

It is therefore a privilege to be able to share with you this timely collection of essays exploring the importance of diversity and inclusion on boards of academy trusts in England. Reading this, we hope you will be inspired, humbled, and optimistic that pupils across the country will increasingly see themselves reflected in school communities enriched by different faiths, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Undoubtedly, there is a very long way to go. But what is clear in this collection is that boards are better when they are fuelled by diversity of thought as well as background.

We are incredibly grateful to all the trustees that have contributed their personal and professional experiences. We hope it will provide food for thought about the importance of diversity, and inspire the wider sector to continue striving for a truly inclusive trust community.

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