HFL Anti-racist position statement - May 2023

Our continuing commitment to addressing racism and inequality

Our founding purpose is to ensure that every young person, through access to a great education, should be able to realise their potential, regardless of where they live or their circumstances.

The tragic death of George Floyd in 2020 forced us all to address what our role should be in addressing racism in society if we are to truly enable all to flourish. Across HFL Education, we recognised the key part we should play in building an anti-racist society and enabling all of our community to thrive. As a result, we embarked on a journey to become an anti-racist organisation. We reviewed how we could take action, building from well-meaning statements to deliver change.

We are proud of the work we have undertaken to date. In the three years since we began the journey, we have challenged for an end to systemic racism in education and promoted progressive practices. We have worked on key projects within HFL Education, and worked with experts, powerful voices and influencers to work towards long-term societal change.

Over this last year, colleagues and teams across the organisation have continued to build this momentum, highlight awareness and challenge for progressive change –in their work with educational settings, and in the workplace with colleagues and leaders, suppliers and clients. We have worked with schools and settings to develop their approach to Black History Month, built on our Herts Voices programme of speakers delivering addresses to school audiences, and worked with the Children's commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza on addressing racism in education and society. And we have been honoured to partner with The Rt Hon Dr Stuart Lawrence, as the keynote speaker at our internal conference, contributor to our Primary English conference on ensuring a diverse curriculum, and at events for schools and educational settings.

Our Great Representation programme has supported another cohort of Hertfordshire schools to develop their confidence and skills in talking to school colleagues and pupils about race. They have shared practice and worked to diversify and decolonise the curriculum, and to develop strategies to build equity across their organisation.

This year’s Race Equality week theme in February, #itseveryonesbusiness, focussed us on the spirit of inclusivity and belonging which we continue to foster and sustain across our HFL Education community.

Our first National Race Equity Conference in Spring 2023 brought together nearly 500 delegates to hear from prominent speakers including David Olusoga, Reni Eddo-Lodge and Jeffrey Boakye. Our whole-school toolkits on anti-racism and race equity are now supporting school leaders to make sustained changes in their settings.

We would like to recognise the work of some of our HFL colleagues who have been key in driving us forward. Andrew Brown, who challenged us for change back in 2020 and took up the mantle of EDI Officer; members of our colleague forum for their continuing challenge to all of us to strive to become an anti-racist organisation; and HFL Education’s advisers working across so many schools and settings delivering anti-racism programmes, seminars, initiatives and workshops.

The third anniversary of the tragic death of George Floyd serves again a solemn reminder to honour and renew the commitment we made to drive change in 2020.

We know our work is not finished and that we have a long road ahead. We are committed to being a fully inclusive employer, with truly inclusive processes and practices. With the support of the Board, we have now launched an Equality Diversity & Inclusivity committee to develop greater allyship for action and equality of respect to everyone, irrespective of background or status. This will not divert us from our aim to be an anti-racist organisation; rather this will enrich, challenge and drive our work forward with the full, aligned commitment of the HFL Board, leadership and community.

For 2023, we have committed for HFL Education to become a signatory on the Prince’s Trust Business In The Community Race at Work Charter. Within our community, we know the work we are undertaking must make a sustained difference. External scrutiny, supported wholeheartedly by the Board, holds us up even more openly to rigour, and is the next progressive phase to mark that we are about actions not words.

Our commitments are embedded into our HFL strategic plan, through our ongoing work, and through our vision and values. Our work goes on, and we are committed to delivering the change we wish to see, both in HFL Education and the wider world.

Carole Bennett
Chief Executive Officer, HFL Education

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