Are We A Diverse Community?

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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How can we ensure a wide range of bloggers are represented online and acknowledged by industry?

Blogs now constitute a well-established media with particular appeal for consumers who rather than focus on broad news coverage, seek specialist knowledge and niche information.

Research Says:

A large-scale survey – conducted by Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent and PR company Vuelio – sought to gain a greater understanding of who UK bloggers are, how they work, and what they want to achieve – with particular emphasis on the increasingly commercial character of blogging.

What emerged are a number of key findings about the blogging industry:

  • Bloggers are predominantly female and blog for personal reasons
  • Fashion, beauty and lifestyle dominate the blogging categories
  • Most bloggers own and manage a single blog, and those blogging across multiple platforms are rare
  • Most UK blogs receive fewer than 10,000 unique visits a month, but those with more commercial ambitions tend to receive more than 10,000
  • Half of UK bloggers spend fewer than 15 hours per week on their blog
  • Twitter and Facebook are the preferred way to promote blog content, although Instagram and Pinterest are more popular with women.


Vuelio: UK Bloggers Survey 2016

Equality in Education:

@DiLeed recently wrote about the TeachMeet London Equalities Survey and how the TMLondon team are working to ensure, ‘the most equitable representation possible of our talented and diverse workforce, both as speakers and attendees at events’.

Only last week after we published the Equality in Education post, the ‘TES Blogger of the Year‘ nominations were published. @DiLeed said:

I wasn’t paying too much attention to be honest. I’m still relatively new to Twitter and the blogosphere and its structural rhythms and markers. I have curated my network of colleagues I follow and read, and I don’t worry too much about the wider picture. But, when I saw @TeacherToolkit’s tweet about diversity, I looked again at the list of nominees and the judges.”


On the basis of the information supplied online, the gender balance of TES nominees is fifty-fifty. The awards judges have slightly more men than women and one should be cautious of deciding issues of identity on the basis of photo; of course there is no reason any BME blogger should choose to self-identify. Anonymity is still a preference for some – particularly one of the shortlisted bloggers known for his terse views – and that should be respected, albeit recognising the greater challenge involved for ensuring equity in representation. However,

  • are any of the shortlisted blogging nominees BME?
  • are any of the judges this year BME?
  • how many BME writers were nominated?
  • how many judges select nominees for a category?

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Image: Shutterstock

Tough Questions Need Answered:

These are questions that need to be asked if, we as an online community of teacher bloggers, are to avoid Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘Single Story’ in relation to educational perspectives.

  • What are the equalities statistics for winners, shortlisting, nomination and judging over the past 7 years for the awards?
  • Is there a pattern of BME absence in the shortlisting process (over the past two years) for the blogging category?
  • Is there an absence of information because it hasn’t been monitored?
  • What can be done to broaden the constituency of the ‘teacher blogger awards’ category in the future?

Digging deeper into the Vuelio research, the vast number of bloggers in the UK are female. It’s a shame that this data does not share ethnicity profile, but one should consider how much of this information is representative of the education-blogging community?


Vuelio: UK Bloggers Survey 2016

Diversity Required:

We are not short of quality BME speakers and writers in education. So, just as with ensuring diversity of speakers at events, there is no need for quotas. And there is no suggestion in this post that anyone in the existing nominees list for 2016 doesn’t deserve their place on it. We wish them all the very best of luck in the final judging, but we should ensure that BME talent is recognised and validated in the public sphere and that we all benefit from raising this profile.

@DiLeed confesses:

I didn’t nominate anybody for the blog awards when offered the chance. I assumed someone else would. I wonder if that experience is shared by others?”

This is something to remember in 2017. As for Teacher Toolkit, he put himself forward and wasn’t shortlisted. It’s clearly the case that only those who volunteer or get nominated, are likely to be shortlisted (or not)!

Although it’s too late to nominate this year, we would still like to share some of the colleagues on our networks who blog regularly and broaden our own understanding of what it is to be a teacher beyond our own cultural, linguistic and racialised experience – whether or not they explicitly discuss aspects of identity.

There are many more!

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Image: Shutterstock

Raise Awareness:

In the interim before the 2017 awards are announced, we hope that equity and diversity in the ‘TES Teacher Blogger Awards’ is an issue that the TES will be keen to evaluate and discuss openly, both in terms of their legacy, statistics and most importantly, way forward. If you agree, why not say so by clicking and sharing this automated message?

Written by @DiLeed and @TeacherToolkit.


This survey was conducted in February 2016 to explore how bloggers work, and better understand their activities and views about their relationship with brands and other commercial entities. To reach this group of bloggers an online survey was sent to all UK bloggers registered with the Vuelio database. This resulted in 534 usable responses. As the database largely represents those owning and managing their own blog, those who blog on behalf of organisations are underrepresented and would be likely to have different views and behaviours than are represented in the research.

Published by Vuelio, Europe’s leading provider of software for communications, public affairs and stakeholder engagement and Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent.


For the purposes of this blog, @AnnMroz, Editor and Digital Publishing Director of TES kindly shared the following nomination statistics.

Ann Mroz stats Ethnicity Diversity


We are pleased this issue in now in the spotlight. I just have one problem with the information – is that I do not recall declaring my own ethnicty or gender in the application, which leads to the question – how was this data collected and is it accurate?


6 thoughts on “Are We A Diverse Community?

  1. I love to blog. I rarely do because actions speak louder than words. I just think the world is a mass of blogs right now- think Tower of Babel!

  2. I agree that the quantity of ‘stuff’ online can be overwhelming. Maybe all the more important that we evaluate and curate our connections for wider awareness, Including sometimes voices that challenge?

    This additional link is the a colleague who is the epitome of quiet professionalism. I was in a hurry, wearing my Secondary hat and forgot to include her in my list above. Some warning there about how easy it is to overlook what is important.

    @ShareenMayers is essential reading for Primary colleagues and a rich resource of intelligent commentary about English/Literacy for all phases.

  3. Thank you for this Ross and Diane. This is an important issue for all of us. Few comments:
    1. I’m not sure how the TES stats were collected and so what can we read into them. I’ve tweeted about this so hopefully TES will clarify.
    2. The community of people blogging on education includes many who aren’t teachers. This is another facet of the diversity of the community. Governors for example blog too and Shena Lewington is a name which must be on every list of people blogging on education. I do hope she gets the life time achievement award.
    3. Another BAME blogger which should be on every list of BAME educator bloggers is Targinder Gill. She has gained a huge following in a relatively short time.

    1. I agree with all of your points – especially Sheena, she is a legend – apart from three. Sadly I had to mute TG sometime ago for some personal attacks online. I’m sure she is lovely in person … Another example of anon identity now becoming transparent due to blogging popularity, gigs and articles. It’s a shame she could not have been this way from the start …

      1. Thank you for reading and replying, Ross. I think if one is signposting BAME bloggers then perhaps one should mention all the bloggers one knows. But it’s your post so I’ll leave it to you.

      2. Happy for everyone to be mentioned. As is say, everyone has something to contribute and how we interact and are perceived online is very different in person. I’m glad blog has at least raised the profile.

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