Making ordinary classrooms extraordinarily inclusive
The GEC Platform is a pioneering, award-winning DEI solution designed specifically for schools and educational organisations. Developed through rigorous academic research and validation by the award-winning Global Equality Collective (GEC), this accessible and affordable platform empowers institutions to effectively address diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) challenges and create extraordinarily inclusive learning environments.
The GEC is a global multi-award-winning grassroots movement of over 13,000 change-makers and a collective of 300-plus DEI subject matter experts, founded by Nic Ponsford, an award-winning Advanced Skills Teacher and Harvard author.
Their user-friendly, affordable, cloud-based platform is a one-stop shop for an organisation's DEI development needs. It equips schools and educational organisations with the following:
• A knowledge-based benchmarking tool based on the voices of all their staff and students, allowing them to understand DEI requirements and measure progress.
• Immediate results. The platform combines the data from all the surveys to provide deeply diagnostic intersectional DEI data on an intuitive dashboard. Accompanied by quality-assured recommendations for each area developed with their network of 300+ D&I experts
• An easy-to-use action plan creator, allowing leadership teams to create a personalised data-driven DEI road map based on inbuilt expert recommendations.
• Constantly updated and extensive e-learning resources displayed in a ‘Netflix’ style training hub that boasts over 250 CPD materials.
• If additional support is required, the GEC team can connect schools with the right DEI expert from the Collective to support their organisational needs.
Traditional approaches to DEI in schools have been labour-intensive and time-consuming, often involving coaches working directly with different groups for up to two years. This approach often fails to capture the vital perspectives of quieter voices, those hesitant to speak out in group settings.
Enter the GEC Platform: a breakthrough technology solution designed to revolutionise the DEI landscape. The platform empowers every voice, providing an anonymous and safe space. The GEC Platform supercharges the DEI journey by equipping school leadership and internal teams with the autonomy and resources they need, ensuring no voice goes unheard, and driving transformational change from within.
The process is designed to be iterative so schools, colleges and Trusts can monitor their progress annually, equipping them with fresh data and tailored recommendations to sustain and accelerate their DEI progress.
Giving the students a voice
Riding the wave of the successful Level 1 'Staff Module', Global Equality Collective (GEC) and Pixie Labs turned their attention to their next project in 2022, the 'Student Module' (Level 2). The GEC knew from the beginning that this was the next milestone in their journey, their mission has always been about the students, and once the educators were equipped with the knowledge and tools of inclusion, it was time to give a voice to the students.
The decision to build and launch a ‘Staff Module’ module first, rather than a student module, was based on the GEC team’s understanding that to create inclusive organisations, you must get the DEI ecosystem right. The practice and policies must be embedded with the educators and facilitators, from the Head Teacher to the Grounds Team. The GEC team wanted to ensure schools had created a safe space for staff to help students through the surveys and platform.
But, charting the course for a student-centric solution presented its unique navigational challenges. How do you ask kids about complex issues like diversity and socio-economic status without drowning them in jargon? How do you create a survey that fits the comprehension level of an age range as wide as 3 to 16+ years?
On top of these, another concern rang loud - trust. The GEC needed to reassure the students and their parents that their results were safe and would remain anonymous. A safe, non-judgmental environment was imperative for the students to share their honest experiences and opinions.
The Power of co-creation - Designing with the end-user in mind
Although we had already designed and launched a successful Staff Module, designing for children posed a unique set of challenges and considerations. Creating age-appropriate content for a wide age range (3-16+) while adhering to the ICO’s Age-Appropriate Design Code was critical. This code, which serves as a data protection standard for online services accessed by children, emphasises the importance of meeting GDPR standards and respecting the specific nuances of children's consent and data rights.
Guided by the code's first standard - that the child's best interests are a primary consideration - Pixie Labs and the GEC embarked on a co-design journey. The student survey was designed in partnership with a host of stakeholders - DEI experts, academics from Goldsmiths University, and most importantly, actual students (and staff) from over 50 different schools from around the world.
In addition, Pixie Labs invited students and staff from five participating schools to join us in user research workshops. These sessions allowed us to gather crucial insights and firsthand feedback, shaping the final design and functionality of the platform. This hands-on involvement underscored our commitment to creating a solution with the user at its heart.
Students even had the opportunity to step into the shoes of UX designers, offering direct and invaluable feedback on the platform. Through this collaborative effort, we created an environment that felt safe and engaging for students but was legally compliant and respectful of their rights.
DEI data disruptors
The GEC is the world's first hyper-diverse, fully intersectional, DEI ed-tech platform. As a result of being so thorough and navigating a broad spectrum of sensitive topics, the surveys are long. Early research indicated that longer surveys could risk lower completion rates, especially among children, skewing results. Striking the right balance between comprehensive questions and user engagement was crucial. To overcome this, we designed an appealing, intuitive interface that reduces user cognitive load and encourages survey completion.
Building trust was equally crucial, given the sensitive nature of the topics. Therefore, our design approach also incorporated elements that promoted transparency and reliability, assuring users of their data's privacy. We repurposed our proven data privacy approach from the 'Staff Module' to create a safe and reassuring environment for participants. We anonymised and aggregated results, safeguarding even the smallest data sets. This commitment to privacy encourages candid responses, providing leadership a true reflection of their DEI progress.
Encouraging whole organisational change
Beyond the survey, the GEC Platform offers a unique approach to DEI, featuring a level of intersectionality unprecedented in the field. While surveys typically excel at highlighting the majority narrative, the GEC flips the script, striving to spotlight minorities who might be disproportionately affected. This commitment means every voice has a place and is heard.
The platform goes beyond the Department of Education's guidelines for data collection, delving into crucial factors such as socio-economic status, neuro-diversity, safety, and more. This holistic perspective equips schools with a broad understanding of their DEI landscape, ensuring they consider every aspect of their inclusivity journey. By providing these pinpoint insights, the platform empowers organisations to take targeted actions, efficiently channelling resources to make the most meaningful impact where it's genuinely needed.
In the sphere of DEI data platforms, this intersectional approach is a groundbreaking first, underscoring the GEC's unwavering commitment to comprehensive and true inclusion.
Due to the vast number of data points, the GEC’s intuitive dashboard is an integral platform feature. Equipped with deeply diagnostic, intersectional data, school leadership can easily access and understand the complex intersectional datasets using the dashboard. This is especially beneficial for large multi-academy trusts, where the leadership team can view their DEI progress across all schools within the trust.
Off-the-shelf vs Bespoke
Similar to the Staff Module, we evaluated off-the-shelf solutions for this module, and our research clarified that a bespoke solution was necessary. To truly build trust, enhance user experience, and collect and analyse data in the most impactful way, we needed a platform tailored to meet these specific requirements - and that's what the GEC platform delivered.
The GEC Platform is more than a data collection tool. It's a tool that can drive whole organisational change. Some schools, Trusts and even cities/ LAs lean heavily on the action plan and content library, others on the surveys and recommendations. It's a flexible resource that adjusts to each school's DEI progress and needs.
The Outcome & Results
The GEC Platform is designed to equip - educate, and empower.
The GEC Platform, now including student voice, has turned out to be the map schools didn't know they needed. It offers a comprehensive, intersectional, student-centric approach to DEI, a first-of-its-kind in the educational sector.
The platform has quickly gained momentum, and the numbers are here to prove it. With a collective of over 300 DEI experts and engagement with over 260 schools in 25+ countries, the GEC has surveyed over 6000 educators and impacted over 195,000 students, and that's just with the Staff Module.
The Student Module is already rewriting the script. Currently being piloted in 30 schools, it will give a new voice to over 20,00 students in a matter of its first few months. Its influence even reached the shores of West Africa, with a school there being the first to test the Student Module.At its core, the GEC Platform seeks to equip, educate, and empower. It's a vehicle for schools and Trusts to hear and truly listen to their students, allowing them to create extraordinarily inclusive classrooms, one student voice at a time.
"Pixie Labs are always up for a challenge! Being the first to dive into intersectionality, protected the demographics of children and making it easy for school leaders, CEOs, headteachers, and governors was no easy task - but together, we were able to bring all of our strengths together and make this happen! The Pixies embraced helping us create this innovative EdTech solution and helped us to bring our unique product strategy to life in a way that stands out in the sector." - Nic Ponsford FRSA, Founder and CEO @ the GEC.