Home Menu

Equality diversity and inclusion

Support NAHT's vision for equal and fair treatment for everyone working and learning in UK schools

Our commitment 

NAHT is dedicated to promoting equality for all of its members. We aim to achieve sector-wide equal and fair treatment for everyone working and learning in UK schools and equal representation and engagement within our structures and democratic processes.

This commitment is enshrined in NAHT’s constitution, which states NAHT will ‘promote equality for all including through:

  1. Collective bargaining, publicity material and campaigning, representation, union organisation and structure, education and training, organising and recruitment, the provision of all other services and benefits and all other activities.
  2. The union’s own employment practices.
  3. To actively oppose all forms of harassment, prejudice and unfair discrimination whether on the grounds of sex, race, ethnic or national origin, religion, colour, class, caring responsibilities, marital status, sexuality, disability, age or other status or personal characteristic.’

NAHT’s work on equality is overseen by our Diversity and Inclusion Group, a sub-committee of NAHT’s National Executive. The committee meets four times a year to discuss issues relating to diversity and inclusion within the association, the profession and schools themselves. 

NAHT’s work around equality and diversity runs across all areas of the association but centres around three main areas:

1. Schools 

As school leaders, NAHT members are ideally positioned to create inclusive learning and working environments for all their pupils and staff, one which welcomes diversity and champions equality. NAHT supports our members by providing advice and guidance to achieve this.

2. The profession

NAHT is committed to ensuring the education profession (and school leadership in particular) reflects the diversity of the communities and areas that schools work in. This includes establishing inclusive working environments and cultures for staff, lobbying for equal pay for groups with protected characteristics and providing advice and support to members who have experienced discrimination and harassment. As part of its ongoing efforts to improve the diversity at a school leadership level, NAHT has also pledged its own actions and commitments to furthering equality, diversity and inclusion in education for 2021/22. 


NAHT recognises that we are most effective in representing the views and needs of school leaders when we engage with all of our membership. We are therefore committed to ensuring our own democratic structures are inclusive and reflect the diversity of the educational professionals and learners that we serve. We will take all possible steps to promote and encourage the participation of all members in our democratic processes and actively address areas of under-representation.

NAHT's anti-racism statement

We know that racism (intentional and unintentional) and racial inequality continues to exist, and we firmly believe that we, as an organisation and as individual members, must play a role in actively addressing this within the educational sector. It matters for the health, well-being and futures of our members, their staff and the pupils and communities that they serve.
NAHT commits to putting an anti-racist approach at the heart of our work; this means acknowledging, challenging and effectively addressing all forms of racism and racial inequality wherever we find it, both collectively and individually.
We know that doing so will not always be easy; for this to have true impact we must be willing to question our own roles in the system, both as an organisation and as individuals. We will need to acknowledge times where we may have got things wrong, or failed to improve our own understanding and awareness of the scale and impact of the current situation. 
It will also require clear action, not just rhetoric. 
This means committing to improving our understanding, awareness and action on the systemic racism and inequality that is experienced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic children, staff and school leaders. We hope that the You Are Not Alone: Leaders for Race Equality book, supported by NAHT, is a positive first step in doing so. We will ensure that this is underpinned by the recognition that individuals from ‘Black, Asian and minority ethnic’ backgrounds are not one single category, but rather, people from a range of backgrounds, races and religions, each with their own unique challenges and experiences.
We know school leaders have a unique and vital role to play in this work. From the overarching ethos of schools to the detail of the curriculum, their educational leadership has the power to help bring about the change we need to see.  We will work to support and empower all of our members to feel confident in adopting an anti-racist approach in their own schools; ensuring they have the understanding, knowledge and resources required to effectively embed an inclusive approach within their schools for all staff and pupils. 
As a profession we also need to be prepared to hold a mirror up to ourselves. We know that the profession is not yet representative of the communities we serve, and that this is a particular issue at senior leadership level. We commit to addressing this issue head-on; collaborating with the sector and our partners to build on our current commitments to ensure we play our part in helping further equality, diversity and inclusion in the sector. We will also use our voice and standing in the sector in order to press for greater change and support from government on this critical issue. 
And as a union, we must also be prepared to challenge ourselves by identifying and resolving issues of inequality within our own structures. This includes reviewing our processes and policies, supporting the growth of our equality networks and seeking new ways for members to engage with the democracy of NAHT. 
We also know the NAHT has a role to assess its own internal culture and commitment to anti-racism, and to lead by example. To this end we have begun to review our policies and procedures, and are seeking to provide training for staff in areas such as ‘unconscious bias’.
We acknowledge that this is a journey and will take time. To be truly effective it must be embedded as part of our work developing a full equality, diversity and inclusion action plan which will be focused on achieving and monitoring sustainable change for NAHT. We will use the insight and challenge from the members of our Leaders for Race Equality network to guide us in this endeavour.
We encourage and support all our members and the wider profession to join us in this journey. 

Our networks

Find out more about our three existing equalities networks below. 

Advice and support

NAHT has several advice resources which support and address issues of equality, diversity and inclusion. You can access NAHT’s advice here

The association is committed to pursuing, developing and championing equalities and equal opportunities in members’ employment. The association will protect members by challenging unlawful discrimination in employment matters. Further details on how to access support from NAHT can be found here.

While this page sets out the general position to provide helpful guidance to all members, the individual advice that we give may differ at times depending on the particular member’s personal circumstances and the factual position they find themselves in. There are also circumstances where NAHT will be pushing the government to change their position or take a different approach in the future but until that change is achieved, members need to follow the current legislation and the government’s guidance to protect their own position.

We hope members will attempt to go over and above the current legislation and the government’s guidance in their school, where they have the flexibility to do so and become beacons of best practice. This will help make these schools great places to be for all staff and pupils.

Policy and campaigns

NAHT’s policy and campaigning work is centred around five key campaigns, with equality, diversity and inclusion embedded throughout. You can see our latest work and updates on these here.


Read 'You are Not Alone: Leaders for Race Equality', a book from NAHT’s first equality network for Black, Asian and minority ethnic members. 

Download our equality, diversity and inclusion calendar


Interested in supporting our diversity and inclusion work?

We welcome and encourage members to become involved in NAHT’s diversity and inclusion work. There are many ways to do this, whether through becoming a union rep, joining our Leaders’ for Race Equality or LGBT+ Network, or representing the union at a TUC Equality Conference.  Interested in supporting our diversity and inclusion work?

If you would like to be more involved, please get in touch by emailing organising@naht.org.uk

Latest news and advice

How can BAME leaders break through the “concrete ceiling”?

New and aspiring black and ethnic minority head teachers say “eldership” is a vital part of their CPD and survival in leadership roles.

Under four per cent of school leaders are from BAME backgrounds: they describe their journey to headship as “hard,” “chaotic,” and “challenging,” says new research, despite being better-prepared than other candidates.

Christine Callender of the UCL Institute of Education, who presented her paper at the BELMAS academic leadership conference in July, said: “Although it is quite depressing, the sheer resilience and sheer determination these people have is amazing. For a lot of people, this is not something they would put themselves through.

“Many say they came into this job because they wanted to work with communities like them: working class, black, mixed. They say they want to be a head because they can have so much impact – that word comes up a lot - not only on the teachers but on the children and their communities as well. But it is incredibly tough, and they can’t see it getting better.”

What helped was “eldership” – existing leaders from BAME backgrounds who acted as coaches, mentors, allies, confidantes, sounding-board and experts. They also created groups of BAME leaders (often met at CPD events) and undertook independent coaching.

Christine, who interviewed aspiring, existing and veteran BAME leaders for her research, found a common theme that they were promoted to a senior role, often deputy headship, and then hit the “concrete ceiling”. Some said their aspirations were thwarted by “politics” – the ways in which the actions of school leaders or governing bodies combined to prevent opportunities for developmental experience.

They were not optimistic that things would improve, feeling that schools which traditionally appointed BAME leaders wouldn’t do so now either because of marketisation or changing demographics. They also felt that there was a “mirror-tocracy” – that governing bodies were appointing people who looked like them.

“When governing bodies are looking for a head, they are not necessarily conceptualising that person being from a BAME group. It’s about getting governors to recognise the additionality the difference would bring. BAME leaders tend to go into those challenging schools – it’s more difficult for them to get a job in an outstanding school than one requiring improvement.”

Christine tells the story of one candidate who had left a headship post and was trying to get another one later: each time she was rejected for a job, she researched the successful applicant and found without fail that they had less experience.

“A bit of me thinks that with all the recruitment drives to get more BAME leaders we need to find out what’s happening to those in post, and think about how to create spaces for them to do the good work they do without having to do twice as much as everyone else, and constantly self-check when they know they’re being checked anyway.”


How can aspiring BAME school leaders help themselves?

Christine says her research suggests several tactics:

  • Be smart about CPD – not all of it is going to lead to school leadership and BAME people need to choose types which will assist them in developing leadership capabilities to do the job. You are not going to become a head if you don’t understand finance.
  • BAME aspirant leaders are disproportionately in pastoral roles, but you don’t develop knowledge of the curriculum there, and you don’t become a deputy head unless you’ve led on a core curriculum area. If you can’t get those experiences in your school, get them elsewhere.
  • Join and create networks. Reach out to more established and new heads, develop relationships with them, let them be your sounding board. You can also meet people at CPD events and stay in touch.
  • Make sure you’ve got a good few years’ experience – the unwritten story is that you need more than other candidates.


How can school leaders support BAME teachers aspiring to headship?

  • “Recognise and take on board that the requirements of BAME leaders are different than for others. You cannot look at your experience through a white racialised lens. You won’t get the same result as other colleagues.”
  • Acknowledge and accept the road BAME leaders have to travel is a different one, and helping them to think about the obstacles, detours and one-way streets they will have to navigate.
  • Give them opportunities to develop the rounded experience they need to be a head teacher – any chink in the armour will be the reason they don’t get the job.


BELMAS is an educational leadership research association open to school and college leaders at all levels as well as academics. It encourages members to generate and share ideas and good practice. BELMAS is an independent voice supporting quality education from effective leadership and management. Find out more at www.BELMAS.org.uk

First published 24 September 2018