Carnegie Education

Being an inclusive ally; a way of being

An ally is someone who supports under-represented groups and takes action to bring about change. Adrian McLean suggests that inclusive allyship is a ‘way of being’. This strikes a chord with me because at times we use the same phrase about coaching. 

Woman watching two young girls work

A ‘way of being’ means taking an active stance in the world and making conscious decisions about our relationships with others. A ‘way of being’ allows us to transform ourselves, positively influence the lives of others and create fairer, more just and more successful institutions and society. As a ‘way of being’ inclusive allyship alters our thinking and our actions, making what at first is likely to need deliberate work and to sometimes feel uncomfortable, become a non-negotiable part of our identity and positionality.

But what does it mean to be an inclusive ally, what does it require of us and why is it necessary?

These were the underpinning themes of a recent webinar which I was proud to chair. The event was co-hosted by CollectivED, the Carnegie School of Education and DiverseED, with panellists Adrian McLean, Bennie Kara, Hannah Wilson and Damien Page. Through their provocations and responses to questions we gained opportunities to explore the theme. The panellists’ contributions blended personal narratives with challenges to participants to reflect on their own roles and actions as allies. Childhoods, school and family experiences, spheres of influence, the need for personal advocacy and opportunities to disrupt and challenge the status quo were discussed.  I have taken their words and propositions and threaded them together as my personal way of making meaning of my learning.  

Though we have privilege not everyone shares it.
Have intention and be bold. 
We can challenge what happens in front of our eyes,
Call out inequality and hand-over the mic.

With commitment we learn. 
With energy we act. 
With empathy we change. 
With power we lever. 

Show solidarity and live with discomfort.
If we share the work, it will be done sooner.
Lives will be richer and our society fairer. 
Expect equity for all. 

Webinar Panellists

Bennie Kara: Bennie is a deputy head teacher. She is also a professional associate of the Centre for Race, Education and Decoloniality at Carnegie school of Education, Leeds Beckett University. She is the author of ‘Diversity in Schools and a co-founder of #DiverseED.   @benniekara

Adrian McLean: Adrian is a MAT leader, and a trustee of Governors for Schools. He is also a speaker, trainer and mentor.  @Character_guy 
Damien Page: Damien is Professor of Education and Dean of the Carnegie school of Education, Leeds Beckett University. His research interests include alternative provision and surveillance in education. @Damien_page

Hannah Wilson: Hannah is a leadership development consultant, and former principal.  She is co-founder of #DiverseEd and WomenED. Hannah is a CollectivED Fellow and works in a range of coaching roles. @Ethical_Leader

Inclusive Allyship Toolkit


Professor Rachel Lofthouse

Professor / Carnegie School Of Education

Rachel Lofthouse is Professor of Teacher Education in the Carnegie School of Education. She has a specific research interest in professional learning, exploring how teachers learn and how they can be supported to put that learning into practice.

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