Equality, Diversity and Inclusion - focus on Directorate of Education and Training

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) has been a significant focus of the Trust’s work in recent years. One of our core strategic objectives is to achieve equality of opportunity across the organisation, with a particular focus on race equality and disability. In 2021, the Trust commissioned an independent Race Equality Review, with recommendations and a Race Action Plan being taken forward.

Our Directorate of Education and Training (DET) has been actively involved in the Trust’s recent efforts. In November, at the Trust’s Annual General Meeting, a presentation was made by Paul Dugmore (Associate Dean and Chair of the Learning and Teaching Committee), and Laverne Antrobus (Educational Psychologist and an EDI Lead for DET).

Data was presented on five protected characteristics and how they may impact students, from recruitment through to enrolment and assessment; analyses of the reason for rejections; data on complaints, appeals and academic misconduct; student survey results, and feedback from student groups for under-represented students.

This article summarises the key points and explains how the Trust is progressing in this crucial area of work.

Data relating to protected characteristics

Disability

  • Increase of a third in the rate of applicants declaring a disability, compared with the previous year, at a rate of 9.9%.
  • Attainment and award gap between students declaring a disability and those with no disability reduced by 9%.

Percentage of students achieving a distinction or merit:

  • 54% of students declaring a disability.
  • 60% of students with no disability.

Race and Ethnicity

  • Attainment and award gap between Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students and peers reduced by 10%.
  • Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic applicants increased slightly by 1% in 2019-20 to 26%. National average: 24%.
  • 34% of rejected students identified as Black, Asian or minority ethnic, with just over half being rejected at application stage.
  • This was due largely to not meeting entry criteria relating to experience, personal therapy or suitability.
  • Need for better targeted support e.g. course specific open evenings for applicants from under-represented groups.

Religion

  • The Trust rated below average numbers for Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, and students who have declared themselves as not having a religion.
  • Above average numbers for Buddhist, Jewish, Spiritual, and other religions.
  • Acceptance rate for Muslim applicants improved by 13%, with 28% being rejected (10 out of 36) compared to 41% last year.
  • The percentage of students receiving distinctions or merits was higher for all religious groups than for students identifying as not having a religion.

Sex

  • The Trust rated below average for male students (20%) compared with the national average (40%).
  • Above average for female students (80%) compared with national average (59%).
  • 64% of female students were awarded a distinction or merit compared to 52% of male students.
  • From this academic year, applicants and students will be able to identify beyond the binary of male and female identification.

Sexuality

  • 83% of applicants identified themselves as heterosexual compared to 81% the previous year.
  • 10% defined themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or other.
  • 8% chose not to disclose.
  • No national benchmarking data available as this is a non-mandatory area of return for the Higher Education Statistics Agency,
  • Percentage of students achieving a merit or distinction by sexual orientation:
    • heterosexual – 73%
    • bisexual students – 80%
    • gay men – 63%
    • lesbian women – 25%

Complaints, Appeals, Academic Misconduct Complaints

  • Complaints were broadly from the same demographic proportions as the student population as a whole.
  • Male students more likely to appeal than female students according to their proportion in the population which needs to be monitored.
  • More Black students appealing than would be expected. Also seen in the data from last year and suggests that this should be investigated further.
  • A disproportionate number of Black students were subject to academic misconduct cases (4/9), and men were also overrepresented (3/9).

Student Survey data

  • Despite an ‘Anonymity Policy’ in place, respondents who would rather not disclose information relating to protected characteristics, were the least satisfied group.
  • Overall there was no significant difference in overall satisfaction between students from minority ethnic and white backgrounds (82%).
  • Breakdown of satisfaction by ethnicity, identifies a variance in satisfaction levels with a 12% gap amongst Asian students compared to Black and White students.
  • There was a 17% gap between those who did not disclose their ethnicity and those who did for overall satisfaction rate.
  • Students identifying as non-binary or queer had lower satisfaction than other groups.
  • Satisfaction levels for students with disabilities was 8% lower than for students without a disability.
  • Students from under-represented groups generally felt less comfortable being and expressing themselves at the Trust.

Feedback from student groups

The Trust run a number of student and trainee groups to provide an opportunity for students to meet each other and share experiences in a safe, facilitated environment. The ongoing conversation with these groups is likely to be critical in the Trust succeeding in its aims of being truly inclusive.

Themes fed back by members of the disabled student and trainee group include: appreciation around the group’s existence providing a supported space; online study as a leveller; sharing how the process of receiving support in itself can be disabling; the battle to be heard; awareness of issues is not always consistent across the institution, and some have fears around getting through their course.

In the LGBTQi+ group, discussion has included their experiences in the group, their concerns and the experience of being a minority.

Themes from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic student and trainee group include: the importance of being offered a place; not feeling listened to and feeling isolated; macroaggressions and the group as a space where they feel validated.

Ongoing work

In order to address issues raised and improve on equality, diversity and inclusion, a number of interventions are being implemented. This includes:

  • A Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunity: A focus on race and ethnicity in Teaching and Learning programme being delivered termly from 2021-22.
  • A CPD course on disability.
  • A CPD course on creating space to have difficult conversations.
  • Targeted open events for historically excluded groups for our child, community and educational psychology course (M4).
  • Work with the University of Essex on decolonising curricula.
  • An EDI themed Learning and Teaching conference this year.
  • Mentoring for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic course leads.
  • A bursary programme to increase the numbers of students on child and adolescent psychotherapy training from ethnic minority backgrounds.
  • A wider bursary programme to increase the number of students from ethnic minority backgrounds on Trust entry level courses.
  • More targeted support of the development of Trust staff to increase the representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic teaching staff.
  • EDI leads sitting on interview panels for teaching posts.
  • The appointment of three new Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic course leads this Academic Year.

Conclusions

While improvements are being made, it is clear from this picture that the Trust has more work to do in order to live up to its values of “embracing diversity” and “making our services and training as accessible as possible”.

The Trust will continue to monitor the data on protected characteristics, to enable comparisons of demographics across the student journey, and to identify concerns and progress from year to year. We will listen to the experiences of our students as we work to create an inclusive and diverse environment.