At the end of September we met again with project schools in two separate meetings in London and Bristol. We exchanged project news, discussed materials and tried to fill in the gaps, mostly to do with additional resources that project schools have found helpful and images to liven up the resource. We exchanged ideas about the front cover and one school volunteered artwork by its pupils, who will soon have a visiting artist run workshops in school – we all got rather excited at the prospect of seeing collaborative representations of diversity and equality and eagerly await what pupils come up with! We also discussed piloting the new materials in project schools’ local authorities and how best to organise that.
In these last face-to-face meetings before pilot materials are published, we revisited the title of the resource once more. I shared some concerns that I’ve heard from others, that “Achieving through Equality” seems to be encouraging an ulterior motive for promoting equality in schools (to raise achievement) and, therefore, not quite the message we would like our new resource to convey. I put forward “Improving Equality, Improving Schools” as an alternative, but that got a swift and unanimous thumbs down. Point taken, the school improvement agenda may not be the best way to attract teachers’ attention right now. We spoke again about what is important to us: equality, honouring unique identities, valuing people, people feeling valued, how this is invaluable and how you can’t attach a value to equality. By the end of the meeting in London we were none the wiser on what our new resource title would be. In Bristol we were equally unproductive to start off with. We carried on talking, and I carried on scribbling, trying to capture words on paper, to help focus our minds on key ideas. My notes say “sense of belonging”, “school community”, “creating”, “making equality real”, “achievable”. Making equality real sounded promising, but we had to keep on thinking. “Tell me in your own words,” I said, “what is it we are trying to achieve with this resource?” And then somebody said “It’s about making things possible, about making things happen.” I wrote this down and carried on writing all of the meaningful words that followed about not feeling daunted by the task and about seeing this work as integral, not additional, to everything that goes on in school. Then I looked up and smiled. “I think we’ve got our title”, I said. We went over the gem that had been uttered, heaved a sigh of relief there and then and later I wrote to the London schools and got a thumbs up from them too. And that is how the title Equality: making it happen was born.