Black Lives Matter

Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” The current global protests stemming from the horrific murder of George Floyd have served to highlight the long-standing issues of injustice not only in the USA but also much closer to home. As a school, we have chosen to take time to reflect on what this means for us as a school community before responding publicly. If the Black Lives Matters protests are to lead to real and long-term change then it will require us as a school to look honestly and openly at our own practice.

We know as a school that we can and must do more. We have already begun a dialogue with students across several different year groups. One of the key messages of the recent days has been, in the words of the activist Angela Davis, that it is no longer sufficient for people to be ‘not racist’ but that we must all be actively ‘anti-racist’. Schools and the education system are justly at the very centre of the discussions around ways forward and we must look at how we can be positive agents for change. We recognise that previously the school has not done enough to create a culture of anti-racism, so need to ask difficult questions and be prepared to listen to the answers no matter how uncomfortable they may make us feel.

There are several key areas that we will seek to work on in the first instance. As we listen to feedback from students and staff this will inevitably broaden out in to other areas, however, our initial discussions have led us to the following priorities:

Recruitment of BAME trainees: Our student diversity is one of our great strengths and presently our staff body does not reflect this, which deprives our BAME students of the valuable role models that we know our staff to be. We acknowledge that there is a local and national issue with the recruitment of staff from BAME backgrounds but we as a school must take a lead on making a positive change. One of the motivations to become a School Direct hub was to recruit more staff from the local community and encourage diversity. We now want to go further and be more active in recruiting people from diverse ethnic backgrounds to our teacher-training programme. We have begun an analysis of our application data and are working closely with our training provider, LJMU, with a view to improving the rate of successful applications from Black and ethnic minority people.

Pursuing equality through student voice: we will seek to establish opportunities for feedback on issues of equality and diversity in school. Through the dedicated email address below, we will listen to our students and implement change appropriately, as we seek to eradicate racism and prejudice wherever we find it.

Any members of the Archbishop Blanch community wishing to report incidents of racism can do so through the following dedicated email address:

equality@blanch.org.uk

This will be monitored by a team of staff, including the headteacher, to ensure that appropriate and timely action is taken.

Diversity training for staff: Education is key if we are to understand the everyday racism that affects our communities and our students’ lives. That means educating our students so that they can become actively anti-racist in their daily lives but it also means ensuring that staff are educated too. Staff training is essential to understand the varied ways in which racism can manifest itself and take action against it. Through education and training we aim to be an ‘anti-racist’ school community.

Establishing a Diversity and Equality Group: In response to feedback from students across the school we will be setting up a Diversity and Equality Group in school which will be able to give a voice to students as well as a platform for change. They will contribute to and continue the work of educating students and staff alike on issues of race, diversity and the multiple oppressions that students may face.

Addressing the curriculum: Much has been written in the media about the nature of the national curriculum and how it can support systemic racism. For our part, our curriculum is always under review and it should always address the needs of our students. We know that more must be done to help decolonise the curriculum and promote equality and diversity. A review of the curriculum in History has already begun, which will address issues of colonialism and racism and ensure that students do not only encounter black history with reference to slavery. We can, and will, go further to review all areas of the curriculum beyond History, working with appropriate agencies and organisations in the process.

This is the start of a process; a process that may take time to fully implement. But it is also a process which must begin from a position of honesty. As the writer Obioma Ugoala says, we must be “brave in our humility”. We may not have got everything right in the past, and we may not get everything right in the future, but we are committed as a school to doing better. 

500 words - Competition

Black Lives Matter writing competition is opening on Monday 29th June for children aged between 5 and 13 years. If you would like to take part or would like further information, please click the link below. 

https://500words.me/

https://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-school-that-tried-to-end-racism.

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