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Charlie Nichols was one of the guest speakers at an IWD event held at the University Professional Development Centre in Bury St Edmunds

A group of educational experts in East Anglia have teamed up with a national organisation to look at ways of sharing thoughts and ideas relating to equality diversity and inclusion (EDI).

The experts are from Abbeygate Sixth Form College, Colchester Institute, One Sixth Form College, University of Suffolk and West Suffolk College and they all attended a forum called ‘equity exchange’.

The occasion was run by the Association of Colleges (AoC) and hosted by the Eastern Education Group and saw a group of ten professionals discuss their experiences of helping their establishments become more diverse and inclusive.

The meeting was the very first to take place in the East of England and is part of an ongoing campaign by the AoC.

According to the AoC, the idea is to bring expert practitioners together and empower them to make positive change and share ideas to drive innovation and transform education so that it truly is a more inclusive and dynamic learning environment for all.

2 EDI guru Ellisha Soanes chairs the latest equity exchange event at the Eastern Education Group

Ellisha Soanes was the chair of this meeting. Ellisha from Ipswich has been described as an EDI guru by the publication FE Week and is excited about the impact these equity exchange meetings are having.

Ellisha – who previously worked for West Suffolk College and is now a director of Aspire Black Suffolk and an EDI consultant who supports the AoC said: “I have been on a mission to diversify the curriculum throughout the region and the county by getting educational establishments to teach black history all year round and this collaborative project is an extension of this work.

“There are so many colleges who are all doing so much incredible work in terms of the diversification of education in all sorts of ways and It’s really impactful to have these spaces to make positive national change and help people on their EDI journey. I’m very excited about what is going on in this part of the world and indeed the country as a whole. m/f

Piers Alexander is a head of English at West Suffolk College and group EDI lead for the Eastern Education Group. Piers said: “Our original meeting was online but this was the first ‘in person’ event in the East. What we are doing is talking about our work, best practice, issues, challenges and ways of improving what we do in relation to EDI.

“We had lots of positive discussions at this meeting and we will now build and grow the forum and continue to make connections. So much good is happening, but we can always do more. So the message is that it’s important to get involved, things are changing culturally and politically at such a rapid rate so as people working in education we need to embrace our part in that change and strive hard to continue to make a positive difference.”