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Mind the Gap, Episode 22 — Accelerating Diversity and Equity in Schools with Bennie Kara

In this episode, Tom and Emma speak with Bennie Kara, author of A Little Guide for Teachers: Diversity in Schools. Kara initially explored education diversity through her lens of teaching English but soon found a world of interest across multiple disciplines emerging from the popularity of her book.

Kara expresses her desire to address the intersection of identity, inclusion, and equitable treatment. It’s not about highlighting individuals as victims but instead bringing to the surface the diverse circumstances that need attention. According to Kara, there is still a fundamental misunderstanding of structural boundaries and negotiating in the space. She describes how a failure to understand the structural issues creates tension and argument and remains incendiary until adequately addressed. (12:45)

Tom, Emma and Bennie also discuss the acceleration of diversity and equity in education, with the pace of change in primary school as a promising example. Kara’s book is described as a tool kit of sorts that allows people to feel comfortable, providing a safe place to start for those who want to make changes but are sometimes uncomfortable coming forward. (22:21)

“Usualization” is part of the process to break away from the normal/abnormal labeling. It creates belonging through exposure to differences, variations, and lifestyles outside of one’s own experience. A certain neutrality occurs when diverse stories become a part of the curriculum, pushing past the dominant narrative and securing a place in all learning.

Watch episode 21 for Emma’s discussion with Oliver Caviglioli & Tom Sherrington on their new book Teaching Walkthrus Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsnIrmb5z_U

To find all video episodes, featuring additional segments from Tom and Emma, subscribe to Mind the Gap with Tom & Emma on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/MindtheGapwithTomEmma 

To listen to the audio version, subscribe here on your preferred podcast app: https://anchor.fm/mindthegap-edu

About the participants:

Bennie Kara is a deputy headteacher in the East Midlands, specialising in curriculum, teaching and learning. She started her career in the inaugural cohort of Teach First in 2003, teaching English in East London. Since then, she has taught in four London boroughs and in South Oxfordshire, before returning to Derby. She is the co-founder of Diverse Educators and author of the book, A Little Guide for Teachers: Diversity in Schools. Follow Bennie on Twitter @benniekara

Tom Sherrington has worked in schools as a teacher and leader for 30 years and is now a consultant specializing in teacher development and curriculum & assessment planning. His books include Teaching WalkThrus, Rosenshine’s Principles in Action and The Learning Rainforest Fieldbook. He regularly contributes to conferences and CPD sessions locally and nationally and is busy working in schools and colleges across the UK and around the world. Follow Tom on Twitter @teacherhead

Emma Turner joined Discovery Schools Academy Trust as the Research and CPD lead after 20 years in primary teaching. She is the founder of ‘NewEd – Joyful CPD for early career teachers,’ a not-for-profit approach to CPD to encourage positivity amongst the profession and help to retain teachers in post. Turner is author of Be More Toddler: A Leadership Education From Our Little Learners and Let’s Talk About Flex: Flipping the flexible working narrative for education

Follow Emma on Twitter @emma_turner75