As a diverse British society, we have witnessed significant social reform over the decades. We now agree that equity is humane and logical. Elite tribalism, gender conformity, racial segregation, ableism and heteronormative bias do not ensure equality in an inclusive way. As a school, we agree that alliance through celebrating diversity is intrinsically good. As school leaders, we uphold our moral imperative to mirror the full diversity of life in our school – to nourish all our children so that they know that they are loved and will be educated equally.
Generation Z are more globalised than ever before. So how do we shape our school culture to best equip them for this world? A child’s primary years are the most formative of their education – the development of their personal character underpins future academic success. It is our job as educators, therefore, to ensure that our teachers are modern and open-minded in their thinking and take brave decisions to positively influence our children’s personal development.
Our school’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, led by the voice of our students, steers our school’s strategic development on this. Their starting point has been to conduct a diversity review. Their focus now is to influence our recruitment strategy, our operational activity and align our values to our learning and teaching. Our curriculum is developing to decolonise and diversify our messages. It is exciting, relevant, different. Reform encourages us to reconsider our priorities.
Fundamental to clearly articulated values is the question: what makes our world good? Our shared histories, art and books are the basis to shaping the future. Our school ensures a forum for healthy dialogue – no matter our racial heritage or sexuality, neurocognitive function or disability – based upon our desire to be quick to listen, not quick to judge. We stave away unconscious bias from the top to the bottom of the school – our governors and the children in our care have an equal voice to shape this vision. We acknowledge a culturally-responsive approach by being curious, kind and compassionate, enabling us to think and adapt with agility, dignity, respect, empathy and an open heart.
Self-identity and community connection is at the heart of what we do. This week, in the Junior School, we celebrated being happy and comfortable in our own skin. Through morning assembly, I shared the African philosophy ‘Ubuntu’ – that of placing emphasis on being yourself through others. Its culture is rooted in the belief that community is one of the building blocks of society. Yesterday’s Diversity Day shone a glorious light on the social connection of fifty-five countries which constitute our school’s student body, with powerful representation of our intersectional communities.
This combination of our diverse community as role models and a forward-thinking Human Intelligence curriculum makes for an exceptional education. In our school, everyone can be who they choose to be. We are open to being challenged and are comfortable with being uncomfortable. However, this is not a journey for our EDI Committee alone – it’s for everybody. We strive for a school where everyone feels safe, valued, accepted and included – where everyone is celebrated in every classroom. To build a collaborative community that celebrates the successes and amplifies the stories of diverse people. And through such promotion of acceptance, increased visibility, encouraging celebration and creating belonging, we enable deep learning.
So how do we consciously mitigate our bias? We expand our community’s hearts and minds through ensuring multiple co-existing stories run parallel to the historic norms. Such multiperspectivity helps us to understand the deep value of migration to our world history. We make linguistic and cultural connections – as this week – through celebration of our food, dress and festivals. We counter the dominant narratives of out-dated curriculum content and usualise representation of our diverse community.
When you bring yourself to our school, we ask that you bring your authentic self. How do you know you’ll belong? I hope it will be from the moment you walk through our doors that you will sense a palpable presence of the entire environment being prepared to honestly and authentically welcome all that you bring. That we prioritise action over hollow rhetoric. As a school, we owe it to our children and as a race, to humanity’s evolution. In the words of our African sisters and brothers when they describe the ideology of Ubuntu, “A person is a person through other people…Humanity is a quality we owe to each other”.