Moving forward with BLM
Two former Headgirls, Nichol Yesuthasan and Amy Djang, are working with the school to move forward the work on Black Lives Matter. They will post updates here.
By way of introduction, please watch this short clip outlining why myself and Amy set out on this initiative to champion equality, recognition and diversity in the St Michael’s school community
We are so grateful for all your support, the result of which has been Amy and I meeting with Senior Management at St Michael’s just before the end of the summer term for a discussion about how St Michael’s can move forward in its own actions and behaviours. For example, it has already taken prime place on the agenda as part of the School’s Development Plan for the year. Amy and I are very passionate about making sure that all everyone’s voices are heard and represented equally so firstly, thank you to all those who reached out to us and shared personal stories so bravely. We were able to have a frank and honest discussion about all the relevant incidents which have occurred at school in the past – this was done in confidence and we maintained anonymity as we looked to identify how the school can respond to recurrent issues.
Amy and I found the discussion very productive and identified a number of key outcomes:
1. The School has released a Statement of Acknowledgement apologising and taking accountability for past incidents of racism, as although they may have happened in a different ‘era,’
2. The School has placed this initiative at the top of the School’s Development Plan and Strategy for the year
3. The School is looking at improving Governing Body representation
4. The School is looking into how to further encourage BAME applicants to apply for positions, as part of the teacher recruitment process
5. The Senior Management Team is looking into organising Racial Diversity/Unconscious Bias Training for Staff and how to deal with escalation of incidents pertaining to racism
6. The Senior Management Team will look into a number of educational resources which have been shared by myself and Amy and how they can help support the diversification of the curriculum
7. Amy and I will participate in a Governors’ Meeting to provide feedback on the curriculum
Since July, Amy and I have introduced ourselves to the student body ‘virtually’ as *Diversity Champions* and our aim is to be the link between students past and present and the Senior Management Team. Part of this will involve meeting with student focus groups (hopefully in person pandemic permitting…) to discuss concrete suggestions for changes at St Michael’s and equally monitor the progress of change and student awareness/perception as it hopefully improves. One of our long-term goals is to work alongside the Senior Management Team to approach overarching institutional bodies like the Department for Education with the resolve of making changes at a national level.
There has been a ‘virtual’ Introduction Assembly outlining these points with the student body and there is also a Google Classroom which has seen input from myself, Amy, teachers and students which has been great for discussion. At the moment, students are working on putting together an assembly celebrating Black History Month.
Update: 15 November 2020
Following a very insightful and informative Black History Month Assembly delivered by members of the student body, Amy and I have since been invited to review the current curriculum alongside curriculum leaders in the new year. We will then be following this up with the Governors’ Curriculum Group and putting forward our findings and suggestions.
In the lead up to this, each student year group will put forward representatives to form a focus group. Amy and I will liaise with work with the student representatives to gather ideas, topics and suggestions which we will be mindful of when participating in the curriculum review.
The school has also updated its Equalities Policy with target objectives which can be viewed here. They have also appointed a dedicated member of the Governing Body as an Equalities Governor. In addition, recent job adverts have been updated to encourage members of the BAME community to apply.