The Quality Series #3 Q&A
In our third and final event in the series, Embedding Equality, Dr Louise Karwowski, Director of Education at Cognassist was joined by:
– Rebecca Conway, Head of Policy and Strategy, Federation of Awarding Bodies
– Karen Bennett, Senior Policy Lead, Education & Skills Funding Agency
– Kasim Choudhry, Managing Director, BAME Apprentice Network
They covered reasonable adjustments, whether there is enough data around ED&I available and the big question of how to make positive change. You can find the video on-demand here or read on for the full Q&A.
- Is there enough awareness around reasonable adjustments in the EPAO community?
- Could there be more continuity between EPAOs and their clients to assess whether enough reasonable adjustments are being delivered?
- Are reasonable adjustments commonplace in the wider sector?
- Who in the sector should be owning the drive to take action on reasonable adjustments and how?
- Do you think quality is high enough on the agenda for the majority of organisations?
- Do you think we need to take a different approach with adult learners?
- Do you think there's a good understanding of the breadth of diversity in the sector?
- What do you think is the role of policy in mandating equality, diversity and inclusion?
- Do you think we as a sector capture enough data around ED&I to make a change?
- In terms of reasonable adjustments and mental health, can the special consideration box be used?
- How can we make positive change?
- Why do you think there is a lower rate of diagnosed learning difficulties in people from BAME backgrounds?
- Does everybody need to be assessed on enrolment?
- Could retention be improved if equality was more of a focus?
- How would you translate the data into action?
1. Is there enough awareness around reasonable adjustments in the EPAO community?
That’s a really interesting question. Reasonable adjustments are obviously a legal obligation for endpoint assessment organisations and it’s taken very seriously. There are processes in place, but of course, it’s a very diverse area.
You could need anything from an adjustment, to help with a visual impairment or all the fantastic work that you do on neurodiversity. So whilst there’s a strong awareness in the sector, I think it’s always worth pushing the promotion of reasonable adjustments a little bit more, making sure people are aware of the full breadth of the reasonable adjustments available.
We don’t actually have published data on how often these are used in endpoint assessments and if we had that, it would be good to use it as a way to keep considering whether there are more reasonable adjustments out there that are not being implemented and could be.
2. Could there be more continuity between EPAOs and their clients to assess whether enough reasonable adjustments are being delivered?
The Federation of Awarding Bodies works with both EPAOs and awarding organisations. I think the relationship is quite different between providers, employers and EPAOs. I can’t speak to individual examples, but given that we have that strong active dialogue between the different organisations, it’s really important that reasonable adjustments are front and centre of that.
3. Are reasonable adjustments commonplace in the wider sector?
Reasonable adjustments are a key part of any traditional education programme. It’s something that is talked about in the discussions about the whole apprenticeship journey, whether we’re talking to employers, EPAOs, providers or different apprentices. So I think it is very much commonplace in the sector.
But to build on Rebecca’s point, there’s still more to do. There’s more to do around getting all of the stakeholders to work together. There’s also still a lot of work to do around awareness of diversity and inclusion and how this impacts reasonable adjustments.
To share my own story, I’ve worked around diversity and inclusion for probably 20-25 years and I’ve worked on loads of different initiatives. But I’ve recently begun doing some work around neurodivergence and what that means, and I would say I’ve got a lot to learn and that’s after working on diversity and inclusion for 25 years. So I still think that yes, reasonable adjustments are definitely very much out there and thought about in the wider sector, but we need to still do a lot more to get people to understand it and what it means.
4. Who in the sector should be owning the drive to take action on reasonable adjustments and how?
We’ve been doing some work with assessment across apprenticeships. Within the ESFA, we’ve done a piece of work which is around developing some guides for endpoint assessment. These guides have been written for all of the stakeholders, EPAOs, training providers, employers and apprentices.
The purpose of the guides is twofold. One is around making it really clear what best practice is, what roles and responsibilities are for the four stakeholders. Two, it’s around bringing assessment to the front of the process. And where this links into reasonable adjustments again is twofold. What are the roles and responsibilities and when should we start talking about reasonable adjustments?
We’ve just done some webinars (which can be found here and here) and the guides are published, but with respect to reasonable adjustments, the key takeaways for the stakeholders are that everybody needs to be talking about it really early on.
They need to talk about it early on, but also all the way through. Because things change, so what might be a reasonable adjustment at the beginning of the apprenticeship might change. And a learner might not have any at the beginning, but that might change as well.
So we’ve done a lot of work developing these guides to make sure that people understand the roles and responsibilities. We could talk about the legal obligations, etc. but for me, everybody should be thinking about it, whatever their role and all the way through a programme.
That early conversation is critical. It’s quite a unique part of the EPAOs and the EPA world. The EPAOs do speak very regularly and in depth with their partner centres and with employers. And just ensuring that reasonable adjustments come up early stage is vital to make sure that learners are supported as effectively as possible.
It’s about getting people to talk about it, honestly and openly. If it’s left too late, then that dialogue is not going to be the same.
It’s really difficult as well when you’re dealing with hidden needs. As we say, early support and a discussion about reasonable adjustments early on are crucial to the whole process for all stakeholders, with the learner being at the centre. But if you don’t know that person has a need, it scuppers that so what can providers do to mitigate that?
I think what providers can do is join with employers as well. We need to be working in this environment where people feel comfortable talking about what their needs are or comfortable talking about their situation. So it’s around continuing that relationship with the employer and encouraging the employer to have a conversation with the apprentice or for the provider to have a conversation with the apprentice. And knowing how to pitch that.
Do they know what they need? Probably not. I’m learning that in the areas of neurodivergence, a lot of things don’t come out till later on in life, so it really does depend on the situation. But again, the provider needs to be speaking to the employer and the apprentice because every case is different. So for me, the answer is talking and discussing and making people feel comfortable in having those conversations.
5. Do you think quality is high enough on the agenda for the majority of organisations?
I think it’s been on everyone’s agenda for a long time, but diversity is a massive spectrum. You’ve got all those different protected characteristics and we’re all trying to understand all the different nuances within those characteristics and all the issues we face. If I just take BAME as a term, for instance, the amount of nuances within the different communities that sit under that umbrella is a minefield. But I do think that organisations are taking it seriously.
The pandemic did put a stop to a lot of the work because the focus has changed with what we’re trying to achieve, but when we think about neurodiversity, it’s that diversity that we’re not seeing. We don’t understand it enough, and when I talk to organisations about neurodiversity, it’s too complex, there’s not enough information, and there is certainly a lack of understanding about what neurodiversity is.
I’ll give you an example, I spoke to a small company that took on an apprentice who didn’t even know he was autistic. His parents knew, but they’d never told him. And straight away that employer panicked and I said, there’s no need to panic, there’s nothing wrong with this person, he just has a different way of thinking, a different way of operating. What you need to do is actually go and educate yourself, and not get stuck into the label. Autism is a massive spectrum. I think when you look at neurodiversity, the spectrum is probably the most difficult out of all the protected characteristics in the sense that it’s unseen, it’s hard to diagnose, and actually, diagnosis isn’t taking place.
I think the biggest problem with diversity and inclusion in the neurodiverse space is the older generation, because now things like dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism are talked about in schools. We’ve got SEND leaders in schools identifying these issues, but the older generation did not have any of that, so when we look at adult learners, we really need to be thinking about how we identify those learning difficulties and not put it down to other things like language barriers, lack of education, lack of opportunities. The reason they’re not grasping some of the things isn’t because of their background and actually looking to see whether or not there is a learning difficulty there. But my concern at the moment when it comes to diversity and neurodiversity is with adult learners.
6. Do you think we need to take a different approach with adult learners?
I think we need to. We need to try and identify how to find out whether those learning difficulties are there, and at what point to start looking at an adult learner and say ‘Right, I want to put them through an assessment. I want to see whether or not they’ve got any learning difficulties’.
In some cases, it will be apparent and you’ll know straight away and in other cases, you’ll have to do some digging. It happens at that initial information, advice and guidance moment when you’re taking on that learner and you need to ask the open and honest questions about their learning, how they learn and those sorts of things.
And previous experience in education. We’ve got a large cohort of adult learners on Cognassist and I’m sure everybody knows our identification rate for apprentices is one in three. However, for adult learners, it’s actually one in two, so we’re finding there’s this huge cohort of adult learners finding themselves having to retrain. They’ve lost their jobs for whatever reason. Technology has come in and taken over but these are jobs that they chose because of the practical aspects. They chose not to go into academia and now at a later age, they’re having to go in and learn again, having had a really poor experience the first time around, so I think at whatever age we catch people, we can do something about it, but it’s how do you catch them?
From a provider’s perspective, it’s about making sure that all the preparation and the practising are done. So one example could be about making sure that mock assessments are completed and that’s when you might bring out some of those issues around that you didn’t know about. Whilst you might not realise it’s a reasonable adjustment as you go through, it’s that practise and going through things and being open to the fact that actually, it might be older learner or younger learner that just hasn’t been diagnosed, but to me, that really shows the importance of doing those mock assessments as well within the apprenticeship programme.
I agree that you’ve got to try and catch it at any point. I said let’s try and catch it earlier, but you can’t dismiss it at a later point just because it was missed early on, and you’ve really got to try and pick it up when you see it.
7. Do you think there’s a good understanding of the breadth of diversity in the sector?
I haven’t got to grips with it, and I’m in it. D&I is simple, but it’s also very complex. Simple in the sense that you know it is having a human approach to things. It’s about thinking internally and externally about how you behave around people, and it’s all about that culture piece.
I think the culture piece is easy. It’s very easy to build an inclusive culture and that comes with simple humanity, but there’s a lot of noise in the market. There’s a lot of people out there talking about sexual orientation, diversity, inclusion within female gender. You’ve got racial diversity and one of the things we try to do as an organisation is to say that all diversity is important. Yes, we are the BAME apprentice network, our focus is racial diversity and we’re here to talk about that specifically, but what we try and also say is we don’t want to dismiss any other protected characteristics, because in order to have diversity, you’ve got to be an ally of all the protected characteristics.
And if you’ve got a lot of organisations shouting out and saying, our fight is more important and our cause is more important, it creates noise in the market where if I’m an employer or I’m a learning provider, I’m looking and wondering where my focus needs to be. My answer to that is, your focus needs to be everywhere. I know it’s difficult, but you need to pick your battles and you’ve got to look at how you are going to make your organisation more inclusive, more equitable, and fairer to everyone involved because diversity is not just about minorities, it’s about everyone. We need to include everyone.
Take a simple approach. Try not to get bogged down in all the nuances that exist because there’s loads of them, and if you get really bogged down into the nuances, you miss the bigger picture. But again, neurodiversity still needs to be a priority because it is the one that’s unseen. It is the one that you can’t just look at a person and think ‘Is that person being discriminated against?’.
I’m learning a lot at the moment, and all the people that we work with are constantly learning. It’s an evolving picture. What we’re trying to do at the moment at FAB is actually look at those pockets of good practice in different organisations.
We’re a representative body, so we have about 115 members who are the EPAOs, but also awarding organisations, and we’re looking to try and take that step back and piecing things together in a coherent overview because as Kasim said, neurodiversity is a particular challenge because it’s unseen. We know that there are practices that are working at the moment in different parts of the sector, so I think it’s really important to try and join up the different pieces of the puzzle.
Yes, it has to be inclusive for everyone, because if we start trying to be inclusive for a pocket, then ultimately we’re excluding the majority, so it has to be for everyone.
8. What do you think is the role of policy in mandating equality, diversity and inclusion?
It is around looking at the end to end journey and what are the key steps that we need to put in place to ensure that everybody is treated in the same way regardless of any background or any diverse characteristics. So I think from a policy perspective, reasonable adjustment is where we’ve put in place certain steps that need to be taken.
So the role of policy is putting things in place, but then also listening to feedback and understanding how things are working. What can we do more? What can we do differently? It’s to have that policy in place, to listen to the users, whether that be the providers, the employers, the EPAO, to listen to how things work, to continue to adapt and change and to then communicate that policy and locate and engage with different stakeholders.
The role of policy is to put that in place, but continue to review and continually learn and adapt as well.
To link back into the previous discussion, I think we all know that there’s a lot to learn. We all know that there’s a lot to do, but I do think one of the things that we can do is sharing case studies. One of the things that I’ve learned in my background of working in HR is that it’s really good to share the good news stories and to learn from that.
So yes, policy is really important, but actually sharing those good news stories in those case studies is so valuable. And we need to know we might not get it right at the beginning. We’re all learning. We need to all talk about it, but the more we can share case studies and talk about it openly, the better it is for me.
I agree. I think it’s all about building those communities of practice. We do need to create the space to have those conversations because they’re so important.
And you know that in itself is quite a challenge, isn’t it? To actually create that safe space to talk about it, and particularly where you know something might be visible or not visible.
9. Do you think we as a sector capture enough data around ED&I to make a change?
I’d like to see more data. I know on the qualification side we get a lot more data published by Ofqual for example and by the DfE about the cohorts of learners passing through the system, and obviously some of that applies to apprenticeships, but I would like to see much more. Individual EPAOs will be capturing how many reasonable adjustment requests have been made, so that’s quite useful in terms of asking why no one is requesting a particular adjustment. They can do a bit of digging and hopefully put an action plan in place to address that. But across the sector, we’re not seeing that kind of big picture data across all the EPAOs.
Interestingly, at the workshop we delivered at the FAB conference, one of the delegates said they regularly audit the number of reasonable adjustments that are coming through and they were staggered that it’s basically 1 in 50. And I thought ‘Right, I don’t know. Is that bad. Is that good? We don’t actually know.’ What does the organisation do about that?
I’ve been in that situation myself. In previous roles, where we’ve just had no requests for reasonable adjustments in a fairly large cohort and you think, that just doesn’t seem right. Surely there should be some, but until we have that data and maps across the whole sector, it’s quite difficult to know what a normal number should be, and what kind of numbers we should be looking at before we raise the red flag.
I think data is important if you’re going to do something with it. We get a lot of data and a lot of facts and figures, but how is that data actually translating into change? And that’s what we really need to see in this space, data-driven change. If we are going to make it a data conversation, what are the figures? You know you said 1 in 50 there. What does that mean? What does the data actually mean?
I always say this as a general thing around data. I’m sort of anti-data when it comes to D&I, because a lot of people say our BAME figures are great and our gender figures are great. But what does that actually mean? What does that mean for one individual in your organisation? You’re telling me you’ve got XY and Z, but how is their experience? Is there equality? Is there diversity? Is there inclusion? Is there equity in what you’re delivering? That’s what’s really important.
So data is great. It helps us do things, but if you’re going to look at the data. You’ve got to make sure you act on the data as well and that, actually, that cultural piece isn’t being pushed to one side because the data looks great.
I think we do need to remember that EDI is a very personal thing, and it’s not a box-ticking exercise. As I said, I think data can be useful for raising red flags sometimes, asking is this right? Should we have some reasonable adjustments here? But it all has to be based on a holistic approach to individual needs.
That data is one part of it, but there’s loads of things that we need to be doing. We can’t just wait for the data. And when you have it, do something with it. There’s a lot of things that need to be done by everybody, so I think this is where I wouldn’t be saying, Is it the provider? Is it the employer? Is it the apprentice? Is it the EPAO? It’s actually everybody.
Yes, the data is helpful, and that is something that we’ve recognised within the ESFA, but it’s only one part of the jigsaw, so if we all just waited for the data to be right, we’d always be looking for more data, wouldn’t we? We’d all want more data, but there’s so much that we can be doing now.
It is about creating a lasting change, which does take time. The more we can encourage people to work together and share their own stories and systems, the better. But I know that it’s not going to change overnight.
It is a collective responsibility and we need to be moving in the same direction. I feel that that’s happening now. I feel like that tide has changed. The conversation wasn’t happening before because it wasn’t understood at that point.
And I think even now, we’re still struggling. When you see the delays in getting young children diagnosed with autism? Learning difficulties? The wait times are crazy. I’m talking from personal experience with my own child. Getting a diagnosis for autism took us 3 years. What reasonable adjustments can you make when you don’t have a diagnosis? Then you’ve got the whole mind map of EHCP plans and an XYZ, and it just shows that there’s a delay at the start which is going to continue because it’s not being picked up at the right time. But we’ve got to keep looking for it. We can’t just stop looking for it because we haven’t found it earlier on. We’ve got to try and pick it out at any point.
We’re hearing stories of learners who now have a learning need, a barrier to learning after the pandemic which they didn’t have before. So we’ve got reports of learners really struggling now with new barriers to learning.
So that conversation needs to be regular, doesn’t it? And just because at the start somebody said they were fine doesn’t mean they should be put to one side for the course. The conversation needs to continue.
We’ve got a massive issue with mental health right now. We can’t ignore the elephant in the room and it’s difficult to diagnose, you know, what’s the difference between general stress and having a mental health problem? It is so underdiagnosed. We need to look at what we do, pinpoint people that we can see are struggling because of their mental health, because they’re just not able to grasp things.
They may have been able to do these things pre-pandemic, but after 18 months in lockdown and all the things that have happened, people losing loved ones, relationships breaking down… this is the thing the data doesn’t tell us. The data isn’t there to tell us how many people have actually been affected by the pandemic.
There’s no data there to tell you how many people have suffered mental health problems. How many people have lost loved ones? You know, in terms of assessing that and also in terms of the breakdown of relationships, the pandemic has been a massive strain on people and their relationships with other people.
Again, these are things you can’t really calculate with data, and it’s where culture needs to come in. And I know you’ve asked ‘what is it organisations can do?’ I think the culture piece has to come first and the data and the action afterwards.
10. In terms of reasonable adjustments and mental health, can the special consideration box be used?
Any kind of short term issue can be covered by special considerations and I think in the EPA space and for those working on apprenticeships, it’s very much about having that dialogue as the people who are working with that apprentice every day will be the ones who know that learner best. Then if they feel that that’s going to have a detrimental impact on them, even if it is a short term, perhaps a mental health crisis, it does need to be escalated and it can be managed through special consideration.
11. How can we make positive change?
It’s a really big question and I’m going to give a big answer. I suppose what we’re doing now is about making positive change. None of us here have got the answers. We could talk about processes or policies, but we haven’t got the answers. So I do think it’s about talking about it, and I think it’s about having open and honest dialogue which at times will be excruciatingly uncomfortable.
The other thing is how can we make a change so that the learner feels comfortable in talking about their reasonable adjustments. My experience is that I might look OK, but in actual fact I’ve got quite a severe health condition which puts me in the clinically extremely vulnerable category, which means I can’t have the COVID vaccination, I can’t have the flu jab. So I know it’s not talking about training, but I’ve had to talk to my managers and employers about reasonable adjustments at the moment. It’s really, really hard. So the more we can do to talk and just create an environment where it’s OK to be open and honest and have some conversations.
It’s talking about it, and every person that’s involved, whether it’s an apprenticeship or any type of qualification. All the stakeholders involved need to be talking about it.
If you’ve got a senior role in your organisation or any role, really, it’s about championing having these conversations and trying to encourage more people to feel comfortable in doing so.
I’ve got a couple of new starters on my team and in their induction, I emailed to tell them to sign up for the Neurodiversity Masterclass. It’s really important that people who are leading organisations, managing teams, or managing processes encourage people to have that conversation because it’s only through that active work that it’s going to become less uncomfortable.
I think it’s important that as people who have some sort of management responsibilities, we are clear that you know we’re still learning about this huge area too. And it’s OK to not have all the answers.
It’s all about culture. It’s about every person in an organisation. The culture will rub off on every person that comes through your door. That inclusive culture, the open and warm welcome, to feel that you can be open and honest about your issues, about anything that you want to discuss and be able to share.
To give you an example, if I want to go to my doctor and I need to tell him what’s wrong with me for him to give me the right medicine that I need to improve, I need to be able to have that relationship with my doctor and be open and honest with that individual to say, ‘Look, these are the problems I’m having. How can you help me?’. In the same way, learners need to have confidence that they can tell their learning providers or tell their employers that ‘Look, these are the issues I’m having. These are the issues I’m having at home. These are the issues I’m having mentally. These are my learning challenges.’ It comes down to the culture.
So every person in an organisation needs to understand the culture. That comes from the top, from the bottom, from how you treat your colleagues, how you treat your learners. If you get the culture right, you can handle any of the other issues.
12. Why do you think there is a lower rate of diagnosed learning difficulties in people from BAME backgrounds?
I can talk from personal experience here, again. If I got a pound for every time a medical professional said to me, ‘so do you guys speak English at home?’ Yes, we do. A lot think we’re to blame as individuals because we don’t want to accept that there’s something wrong with our child. I’m talking early stages at the moment but it’s that shame and that fear to accept that I’ve got a learning difficulty and it’s a shame and a fear for parents to say that there’s something wrong here and we’ve got to get help.
But then there’s the flip side of it is the access to help and support. I’m quite privileged that I can get my head around certain things, but trying to read an EHCP plan for a young child is not an easy task, and that’s coming from someone like me; degree educated, write reports, read reports all the time. Trying to understand and navigate your way through a system is very difficult. Nursery staff and SEND workers within schools and colleges are fantastic. They are really fantastic, but there’s just not enough of them.
It’s the lack of resources at the end of the day. Unfortunately, when you come from a BAME background, you are at the bottom of the pecking order when it comes to these things. One, because you’re hesitant in yourself and two, there’s that unconscious bias that because you come from a BAME background, it could be another issue. Learning difficulty doesn’t come up #1.
Like I said, the language that’s spoken at home is the first question that you’re always asked, and for me it was quite frustrating because we speak English. You can tell by speaking to me that I have a pretty decent English. So this whole conversation around English being the first language that’s spoken at home which tends to put people off, then trying to find out more because they feel like they’re being judged around their culture and their home life and I think that’s part of the problem. So there are three issues here. There’s self-doubt, access to support, and there’s discrimination within the system itself.
Then there’s the whole lack of support as a whole. If you grow up in an inner-city area, where typically BAME people are situated, where there is overpopulation, and lack of resources, you are going to have low diagnosis just purely because of the socio-economic conditions. So I think that there’s a lot of reasons there.
I could see the early signs of autism when my son was growing up because I knew what autism was. I thought there’s something not right here. Well, you know, let’s find out what it is. Let’s get some tests. Let’s get some advice. Again, I was in a privileged position, I was able to go and get a private assessment. Not everyone can do that and that’s why we need more information. We need more education. We need more of these webinars happening, so even though a lot of this conversation is directed at how people are working in their organisations, it’s going to transpire into how they take it home as well, and when they’re having conversations in a social setting, so we really need to talk about neurodiversity and what it is.
Interestingly, we did some recent analysis on taking cognitive data and overlaying it onto the government deprivation socioeconomic data and what it told us is that those who live in the more deprived areas are more likely to have cognitive learning needs as well. So you’re completely right, if people can’t afford their diagnosis, how are they going to know, and how are they going to get supported?
13. Does everybody need to be assessed on enrolment?
I think you know it would be good practice to do that. If you don’t assess someone, how do you know how best to support them?
Are we talking about initial assessment? Are we talking about reasonable adjustment assessment? It’s two different things, but I would say yes. There is some new guidance for these, for initial assessment, there’s a webinar, loads of support materials that can be found on gov.uk. The EPA best practice guides can be found here.
I have to say yes, it’s best practice. There is some work that has to be done around initial assessment which is English and maths and qualifications so follow the guidance for that in terms of region. But reasonable adjustments, yes, absolutely. We’ve talked about so many things today to say that it might not come out, or it might not come out at the beginning. There’s a state versus trait as well. We talked about the pandemic and what that brought up on people. My mum died a couple of years ago, and, as an example, if I’d gone through something, I would have needed reasonable adjustments for that. It’s really struggling with grief in my mind still, but every situation is different and something that you’ve been through might impact it as well.
So I would say absolutely for reasonable adjustments, it should be talked about and make sure you have a look at the guidance for that.
14. Could retention be improved if equality was more of a focus?
The government produced apprenticeship statistics data earlier this year and it’s staggering to see that for the last eight years, year on year, the dropout rate is around the 50% mark, which is shocking. Does the panel think retention could be improved if equality was more of a focus?
We talked quite a lot in this session about the sort of unseen needs of learners, very much in that neurodiversity piece, but it could be something else as well, a mental health crisis or lots of things we don’t know about, and I think that has to be linked to dropout rates. Unless you really know your learner, there could be something lurking under the surface that has an impact.
We could talk for hours about why dropout rates are so high and there are lots of things that we’ve been doing with Karen the ESFA, in terms of working together to try and produce better guidance for providers and employers to support apprentices, but I really think that those unseen issues have to play a big role in at least some of these dropouts.
I think there’s lots of different factors that will be at play and but I’m absolutely sure it would be improved if equality was more of a focus.
15. How would you translate the data into action?
Zed (audience question)
How would you translate the data into action? I would also like to add as I sit on the Health Advisory Board in Birmingham tackling health inequalities, the word BAME is often clouded. People need to understand within this cohort there are people from Africa, the Middle East, and Indian subcontinents who may at times share the same challenges, but may also have very distinctive needs which should also be considered.
To translate the data into action, I would probably get people together within an organisation and actually talk about it. I don’t think it’s one person to say all right, let’s do this. If you can, get people that are affected by the issue together and ask them. I know a lot of organisations will have diversity and inclusion champions, and I think that’s really important in any organisation, so I would actually get people together to talk about it.
There’s not one answer, it really depends, so working groups or D&I champion is a really good starting point.
And yes, totally agree with the comment around BAME being misunderstood. If you ask most people, do they really know what it means? That’s something that I found in the organisation that I worked in when I worked on D&I initiatives. I couldn’t agree more.
I agree with everything Karen said on the point about translating data into action. I think it’s just important to recognise that everyone in the sector is so busy. Providers are incredibly busy, employers doing the actual main job as well as supporting their apprentices. Awarding organisations and endpoint assessment organisations have been delivering flexible assessment methodologies to support learners. What we really need is, instead of just a data dump, a high level thing, some short action points or ways to translate that data. Integrating that into their practice because I’m not the best with data at the best of times, and sometimes you just need a quick intermediary analysis. It would be really helpful in a sector where everyone’s been working 50-60 hour weeks for what feels like forever.
I completely agree, BAME is clouded, but it helps and we need to understand the nuances that exist. We need to understand that not everyone who’s brown speaks the same language or have the same issues. There’s a multitude of issues within races, within communities based on where they’ve grown up and where they’re from.
And again, it’s difficult because we’re talking about one issue of diversity, then we’re trying to break that issue up into so many different segments. I think, if you get the cultural element right and you treat everyone and try and understand each individual as who they are, then it will become a lot easier to break down these nuances.
If you enjoyed this Q&A, you may find this handbook helpful: How To Support Neurodiverse Learners. Throughout this series, we’ve heard how crucial early initial assessment is when it comes to embedding equality into your quality provision. To take this one step further, why not book a Cognassist demo today to find out how you can harness cognition to ensure no learner is left behind