BUILDING upon its academic excellence and unique characteristics, the Institute of Education at University of Cumbria is enriching its teaching and learning of and research into diversity.

This semester, achievements include:

• Recognition on a national stage for academic research which gives insight into factors affecting aspirant headteachers from minority ethnic and other backgrounds seeking to pursue school leadership roles;

• Enriching Initial Teacher Education (ITE) curriculum for student teachers with professional development training from the UK’s largest anti-racism charity;

• Having leading social injustice expert speaking at Cumbrian race conference.

With a firm focus on increasing higher-level skills in the North West, the university encompasses Cumbria, a county recognised as being one of the least diverse areas of the country.

With sites across Cumbria, the university also has a campus in Lancaster and another in East India Dock Road in the London borough of Tower Hamlets - one of the most diverse areas of England – as well strong partnerships with education providers around the world delivering programmes to international students.

The Institute of Education at University of Cumbria, one of the largest providers of teaching training in the UK, that delivers education and teaching programmes in Carlisle, Lancaster and London, is heading up several initiatives that have the ability to shape future policy and attitudes.

Research by academics Professor Sally Elton-Chalcraft and senior lecturer Ann Kendrick, and Lancashire headteacher Alison Chapman into how race, gender, faith and other factors impact upon aspirant headteachers as they pursue school leadership roles, has been recognised by the British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society (BELMAS).

BELMAS supports the delivery of quality education through effective leadership and management with its annual awards recognising significant contributions made to this.  

Professor Sally Elton-Chalcraft, director of the Learning, Education and Development (LED) research centre, Institute of Education, University of Cumbria, said: “Our conclusion is that this research gives voice to the small sample of aspirant leaders’ perspectives on barriers to leadership, thus contributing to the literature concerning the nurturing of potential leaders, particularly women and those from BME backgrounds.

“What this study has shown is that although many participants were still keen to pursue leadership opportunities at the end of the course, nevertheless, for some women and some BME aspirant leaders, the barriers remain unassailable.

“Further research and detailed analysis is needed. However, the article has shown that entry to leadership positions by women and men, BME and non-BME, is a complex issue fraught with structural and personal barriers such as gender, race, faith and economic factors, and policy-makers should heed these voices if a shortage or crisis of future leaders is to be averted.”