Black Lives Matter Statement
5th July 2020
Statement on “Black Lives Matter”
Following the disturbing events in Minneapolis, which resulted in the death of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement has mobilised and is alerting institutions across our country to the systemic racism which still pervades aspects of our society.
St Michael’s former students (SMOGGS) have been proactive in urging the school to ensure that all of our students feel fully included in all aspects of school life. Amy and Nichol (former Head Girls at St Michael’s) have been in contact and I will be welcoming them into school in the very near future to undertake a thorough review of our curriculum and school life to ensure that no child feels excluded.
If any students at our school feel that they are in some way excluded, side-lined or made to feel inferior in any way because of the colour of their skin – then that is a big problem for me. St Michael’s is first and foremost a Catholic school and we need to remind ourselves that the word ‘Catholic’ means ‘universal’ – and that everyone is a child of God, everyone is created equal – and if we are not treating everyone equally then we are failing to follow the teachings of Jesus.
The student population at St Michael’s is highly diverse in comparison with many schools in the UK. The teachers are conscious of this and already they include many examples of members of the BAME community as a matter of course in their teaching – we reviewed this aspect of our curriculum provision some time ago to ensure that all our students felt included (this was in response to a student motion in School Council). Nevertheless, we are restricted by both the National Curriculum and the Examination Boards – change needs to take place here if we are to move forward with a more inclusive curriculum.
I believe that St Michael’s is an inclusive school community – if I believed otherwise then I would have changed things so that it was. However, I am white and therefore I may be blind to some aspects of racial inequality which could be more apparent to those with a different skin colour. I will, therefore, depend upon members of the BAME community (current students, former students, staff and parents) in order to identify ways and means of overcoming any barriers to achievement or inclusion which some at St Michael’s may feel.
Our mission is not to just ensure all students feel included at St Michael’s – it is to ensure all people within our society feel included. At St Michael’s, we are educating the leaders of tomorrow. Our students are intelligent, they are motivated, they are destined for great things – they will be the ones who will decide the values of the society of tomorrow. We must get things right at St Michael’s if we are to have a chance to enact change on a larger scale.
Whilst we have a strong desire to get this right, we know that our school has not got everything right in the past. There have been occasions when teachers or support staff have used phrases or said things which made members of our BAME community feel undervalued or excluded. I am sorry that this has happened and I will be working with all staff to ensure that such incidents do not happen in the future.
At St Michael’s, we see ‘Black Lives Matter’ as a movement for positive change, an opportunity to re-examine how we do things, and an intrinsic part of our mission as a school which tries to follow the teachings of Jesus.
With best wishes,