National Inclusion Week 2021

22nd September 2021

As part of National Inclusion Week (27 September to 3 October 2021), members of the BASES Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Advisory Group, have shared advice on how to create a more inclusive space within the sport and exercise settings. Please see their advice below:

Savannah Sturridge

How students can be inclusive of each other

I would like to share three thoughts on how students can be inclusive of each other in a classroom setting.

1 – Be mindful of others

As we begin the new academic year, consider others around you. Whilst you might feel comfortable and included, other students may not. Is there someone sat on their own? Has someone new joined your cohort? Is there someone in the classroom you have never spoken to before? Think about how you could make them feel included.

2 – Initiate conversation

Talk to people. We have all spent a long time working behind computer screens, with little face-to-face interaction. Ask questions to other students in the classroom, for example, how are you? what interests you? what do you think about the current topic we are learning about? Ask them to join your working group.

3 – Be aware of your words

Whilst making conversation, be aware of the power of words. For example, avoid language that reinforces stereotypes and inequality. Avoid making assumptions based on an individual’s name or appearance. Instead, learn about and familiarise yourself with inclusive language.

As a student, for this National Inclusion Week and beyond, think about how you could be more inclusive of others around you.

Lucinda Abell

How students can be more inclusive of their lecturers

There is increasing awareness and accountability for lecturers in creating inclusive learning environments for their students. In turn, students should play their part so the lecturer feels included and can successfully structure and implement differentiated teaching strategies.

When students actively engage in lectures, through nonverbal (body language and facial expressions) and verbal communication, it allows the lecturer to read the room and for everyone to feel connected. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been necessary to move the majority of lectures online. Whilst empathetic lecturers are both aware and privileged that they are ‘virtually’ in students’ home spaces, there is nothing more isolating than teaching to a sea of blank profile squares, when students’ turn their cameras off. This can prevent, or at least delay, the development of lecturer-student rapport and the progression of learning experiences. As a post-graduate student, and prior to my current MSc, as an Associate Lecturer, I feel frequent, open communication and productive feedback are essential for inclusion, self-development and self-identity, for both the student and the lecturer.

Dr Kotryna Fraser (Chair)

Inclusion in the classroom setting  

Dr Sharon Dixon

EDI and Research

Some steps to improve inclusion in research:

  • Consider the timing of research seminars, for example within core working hours and on varying days of the week – to provide opportunity for attendance for wider groups
  • Ensure all PhD and researcher posts are advertised openly and with a transparent recruitment process
  • Encourage project students to consider wider populations for their research
  • Check all wording on participant information sheets and consent forms to ensure inclusive, gender-neutral language

Dr Richard Buscombe

Inclusive spaces in youth sport

Best practice is that at a young age children should be encouraged to sample many sports with the goal being that a person will naturally gravitate towards a sport they connect with and enjoy at an intrinsic level. I have experienced first-hand how the environment that a coach creates is central to a child’s sense of the extent to which they feel a specific sport is for them. Fostering a genuine feeling of belonging comes from a deep-rooted sense of inclusion which needs to occur at a pragmatic level (e.g., equal playing time) and through the eradication of invisible barriers (e.g., power differentials). The extent to which a space is ‘inclusive’ can only be determined by the end user and not measured through any coaching checklists or reported on session plans. We need to be mindful

In my experience, the most inclusive environments for children focus attention on building genuine relationships between the athletes and in the coach-athlete dyad. Cornerstones including integrity, empathy, self-awareness and vulnerability go a long way to conveying an unconditional positive regard for those with whom we interact. At a more pragmatic level, being cognisant of the language we use, role models we highlight and leadership positions we allocate among the group are all areas worthy of constant reflection. As a starting point, I would encourage all practitioners to reflect on their own bias and stereotypic beliefs to better appreciate how this may be impacting on the inclusiveness of the environments they are creating. After all, if we are to include more people in our clubs, teams and sessions, we need to ensure that this integration occurs in groups with no pre-existing inequities.

Please keep an eye on the BASES social media channels where we will be sharing one piece of advice daily during National Inclusion Week.

For more information on the EDI Advisory Group and to access resources, BASES members can head to the member-only EDI page

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BASES stands for the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. BASES is the professional body for sport and exercise sciences in the UK.

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