Skip to main content

Equity, diversity and inclusion in FE - a year on

By Jeff Greenidge


It has been an exhilarating year and a great privilege to have worked with ETF and AoC in 2021 as Director for Diversity. Stimulating, challenging and an incredible opportunity for reflection on my own personal journey, seeing first-hand the actions taken by the further education sector as it strives to make the most of the diversity we have.

There has been criticism of FE for being too slow to engage with this agenda and overall that criticism may well be valid. By nature, I am however, optimistic and seek to build on strengths and have little time for negativity or pessimism and wondered whether it might simply be that individuals and organisations were not talking enough about the approaches and actions they were taking.

With that in mind I knew that if we went looking for those who were changing the game and the narrative on diversity and inclusion we would find those organisations that have already made a commitment to develop and implement strategies to develop a culture of inclusion and measurements to assess their progress.

I started with the participants of the ETF/ AoC Diversity in Leadership Coaching Programme, which was predicated on delivering impact through changing behaviours, creating new habits, and stimulating action. The participants in cohort 1 of the programme were supported through additional workshop sessions to feel confident and motivated to take action to make change in their organisations. Initially we set out to identify 10 sector led activities to share the approaches and actions and identify the support required for systemic change for inclusion, equity and diversity. They then shared these approaches through ETF, AoC, and further education sector articles.

These individuals as suspected were changing the game in the quite unassuming way we do things in FE. This small network of practitioners were encouraged to meet and share their examples of practice. The network grew to around 40 practitioners across the sector. Their voices were amplified on FE Voices (Milton Keynes), through an FE week supplement, ETF’s #InclusiveFE, and at the autumn conferences. ETF funded an additional five organisations to develop projects that have a direct impact in their colleges and staff. These projects include working with protected characteristics, including, LGBTQ, disabilities and race.

What has changed in the FE world?

My personal view is that there are the beginnings of a positive can-do attitude in relation to equity, diversity, and inclusion across the sector. Organisations and practitioners are more willing to collaborate and share expertise; albeit the caveat is that” we are not experts”. That is fine as there are no experts in this field just talented individuals committed to systemic organisational change and developing curriculum and assessment practice that can be used as reference points for others.

Sustainable approaches to equity, diversity, and inclusion within the sector will rely on the staff and leadership of organisations owning the challenge and the understanding of what works within their own context. Therefore, in the next few months AoC will continue to build on these strengths identifying changemakers, supporting them and then sharing for others to adopt and adapt. I would urge colleagues thinking about developing their EDI to look through the conversations that took place in 2021, join us at AoC’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Conference in March 2022 and get in touch to see how you can be involved.

Jeff Greenidge is AoC and ETF Director for Diversity

By Jeff Greenidge


It has been an exhilarating year and a great privilege to have worked with ETF and AoC in 2021 as Director for Diversity. Stimulating, challenging and an incredible opportunity for reflection on my own personal journey, seeing first-hand the actions taken by the further education sector as it strives to make the most of the diversity we have.

There has been criticism of FE for being too slow to engage with this agenda and overall that criticism may well be valid. By nature, I am however, optimistic and seek to build on strengths and have little time for negativity or pessimism and wondered whether it might simply be that individuals and organisations were not talking enough about the approaches and actions they were taking.

With that in mind I knew that if we went looking for those who were changing the game and the narrative on diversity and inclusion we would find those organisations that have already made a commitment to develop and implement strategies to develop a culture of inclusion and measurements to assess their progress.

I started with the participants of the ETF/ AoC Diversity in Leadership Coaching Programme, which was predicated on delivering impact through changing behaviours, creating new habits, and stimulating action. The participants in cohort 1 of the programme were supported through additional workshop sessions to feel confident and motivated to take action to make change in their organisations. Initially we set out to identify 10 sector led activities to share the approaches and actions and identify the support required for systemic change for inclusion, equity and diversity. They then shared these approaches through ETF, AoC, and further education sector articles.

These individuals as suspected were changing the game in the quite unassuming way we do things in FE. This small network of practitioners were encouraged to meet and share their examples of practice. The network grew to around 40 practitioners across the sector. Their voices were amplified on FE Voices (Milton Keynes), through an FE week supplement, ETF’s #InclusiveFE, and at the autumn conferences. ETF funded an additional five organisations to develop projects that have a direct impact in their colleges and staff. These projects include working with protected characteristics, including, LGBTQ, disabilities and race.

What has changed in the FE world?

My personal view is that there are the beginnings of a positive can-do attitude in relation to equity, diversity, and inclusion across the sector. Organisations and practitioners are more willing to collaborate and share expertise; albeit the caveat is that” we are not experts”. That is fine as there are no experts in this field just talented individuals committed to systemic organisational change and developing curriculum and assessment practice that can be used as reference points for others.

Sustainable approaches to equity, diversity, and inclusion within the sector will rely on the staff and leadership of organisations owning the challenge and the understanding of what works within their own context. Therefore, in the next few months AoC will continue to build on these strengths identifying changemakers, supporting them and then sharing for others to adopt and adapt. I would urge colleagues thinking about developing their EDI to look through the conversations that took place in 2021, join us at AoC’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Conference in March 2022 and get in touch to see how you can be involved.

Jeff Greenidge is AoC and ETF Director for Diversity