Equipping Our Community to Deal with the Issues of the Day
The Black Lives Matter campaign has served to raise awareness of values we hold dear at Bishop’s Stortford College. We are against all forms of racism, discrimination and prejudice. However, we recognise that like many other institutions, we need to listen, learn and improve. As educators, we have a responsibility to ensure our pupils understand history and how it shapes the present day. When correctly informed, everyone can contribute towards the creation of a fairer world. Nelson Mandela is famous for saying that, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world", and we whole-heartedly agree. Staff, parents and pupils were last week recommended two excellent books in the Senior School Newsletter as a starting point to improving their understanding of the experiences of black people and people of colour in Britain.
In recent years, our pupil-led Diversity Group has explored a range of issues concerned with diversity, equality and inclusion. Every year in October, they celebrate Black History Month in Assemblies and Houses. Our 4th Form pupils learn about the importance of speaking out when they witness wrong, acting as 'in-steppers' rather than 'by-standers'. However, we acknowledge that there is no room for complacency and that all of us have a responsibility to do better.
Senior staff members are collaborating with pupils past and present to explore how the College can make further improvements. Bishop’s Stortford College is a member of HMC, an association that represents the top independent schools in the UK. HMC is working with Sonia Watson, CEO of the Stephen Lawrence Trust, on ways in which the curriculum could benefit from greater attention to inclusion. This work is ongoing and is being spearheaded by the HMC Chair-elect, Sally Huang. At the College, we will begin by conducting an audit of our curriculum to see where gaps exist in the teaching of Black British History. In addition, together with the Diversity Group, Mr Winter (Head of Ethics, Philosophy and Theology) will soon be launching a Book and Film Group specifically focused on issues of unconscious bias, prejudice and racism. This group will provide an opportunity to read, watch, discuss and ask questions. We plan to incorporate unconscious bias education and training for staff and pupils in the next academic year. We will provide updates as this work progresses.
In their Wednesday House assemblies, Young House pupils have been discussing how as individuals they can have a positive influence not only within the school community, but also elsewhere. Within the many actions that can be taken, educating oneself, talking to others, checking the reliability of the information that we read and writing to the local authorities, were amongst the most commented forms of action. 4th Form pupil, Eva, designed an astonishing masterpiece to illustrate how Young House believes in change, will stand up for others and are willing to start working towards justice and a better future for all.
As a school, we recognise that we are stronger when we celebrate our differences and build upon what unites us, 'Building Confidence for Life'.