The tragic death of George Floyd earlier this year has acted as a catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement on both sides of the Atlantic. Arguably, the scale of the protests and the wider public mood for change that we have seen in recent months have shown that there is a real desire amongst a broad cross-section of people in the UK to properly address matters of racism, inclusion and diversity, in a way that has not always been the case up to now.
Here at Felsted we are doing our best not to be complacent about this issue and in common with almost every other institution in the country we know that we can do better. To start a meaningful conversation on equality and diversity we set up a committee during the summer term, which now consists of 25 pupils, Old Felstedians and teachers.
We meet weekly and are planning to expand the committee; and would especially welcome expressions of interest from any parents who would like to join us! One of the first things that the committee decided to do was to send out a survey to Senior School staff and students in order to find out how well the School is doing in terms of being a welcoming and inclusive community for all.
The survey received 123 responses, amongst which were some very encouraging comments; but as one would expect the results also highlighted areas where we can improve as a School. With this in mind, the Equality and Diversity Committee is now focusing on ‘next steps’. For instance, we are putting on assemblies to highlight how pupils must treat each other with respect and kindness, in order to create a truly inclusive community.
We are also designing a School-wide competition for Black History Month in which pupils will be invited to ‘respond’- either musically, artistically or via a written piece- to a number of prominent Black British figures. Some of these people are from the past and some from the present; many are well known and some are not, but should be!
We hope that the competition will attract a lot of interest within the study body and encourage pupils to engage with the idea of what it means to be black and British in 2020. Members of the committee are also involved in collating books and documentaries and making educational videos, initially with a view of creating a resource list that will enable teachers to develop an even better grasp of a set of issues that are complex, evolving and require sensitive treatment in the classroom.
As a committee, we are very open to ideas and feedback so please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any suggestions.
Chair of the Equality and Diversity Committee
Head of History & Politics