24 Feb Head Teacher’s Blog 24.02.19 – Equality
HT Blog 22 – Equality
This Tuesday (February 26), we will be welcoming an external visitor to our school to talk to our older students in Years 9 & 10 about the importance of equality in both schools and wider society, with a particular emphasis on the 2010 Equality Act, which, as I’m sure you’re all aware, brought together previous legislation (the 1970 Equal Pay Act, the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act, the 1976 Race Relations Act and the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act) under one document and which protects British citizens against discrimination, harassment or victimisation in employment under nine important sub-sections: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage & civil partnership, pregnancy & maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. Although our visitor has been booked in and looking forward to working with our students for a few weeks now, it is interesting that last week also saw comments from our education system’s HMCI (Amanda Spielman from Ofsted) on this topic, when she noted how important it is that young people “Know that some people prefer not to get married to somebody of the opposite sex and that sometimes there are families that have two mummies or two daddies,” before adding in response to another question about difference that “It’s about making sure that children who do happen to realise that they themselves may not fit a conventional pattern know that they’re not bad or ill.” As with any visit to our school, any trip out of school or indeed simply any lesson that is delivered in a classroom, our aim at Daubeney Academy is to educate our students so that they know a little bit more than they did prior to engaging in the learning and so that they are even more prepared for the world that awaits them once they leave us after they have completed their GCSE examinations. Although parents have the option of choosing for their sons or daughters to not take part in next week’s sessions and to not hear the important messages about equality that will be delivered (letters were sent out to those whose children are due to take part last week), it is worth repeating that the purpose of the visit is to educate rather than to indoctrinate; just as nobody’s skin colour was changed during our Black History Month sessions and no-one has altered their religion as a result of our Religious Studies curriculum, it is very, very unlikely that anyone will embark upon a different set of life choices because they have spent some time learning about LGBT issues during sessions about the 2010 Equality Act.
Ahead of next week’s sessions, it may be interesting for our students (and indeed for their parents and even for our teachers) to note that this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a political protest which kickstarted the activism and civil rights campaigns of LGBTQ+ people in both America and here in the UK. For this reason, the theme of this year’s LGBT History Month (which, interestingly, was founded in 2004 by teachers who recognised the lack of education around LGBTQ+ identities and the struggles that many people face) is peace, reconciliation and activism. In Daubeney Academy, we are proud to be not only a highly inclusive school (don’t forget that we are an IQM Centre of Excellence!) but also a very multi-cultural school (although we are currently smaller than most secondary schools in terms of student numbers, we are proportionally significantly above average in terms of students who are in receipt of the Pupil Premium grant, above in terms of SEND students and significantly above for EAL students – in Year 10 alone, for example, we have 10 languages (English, Bengali, Russian, Dari Persian, Latvian, Nepali, Italian, Panjabi, Romanian, Arabic, Russian and Tamil) spoken at home throughout the cohort – with 31 different languages spoken across the whole school.) We encourage difference, celebrate diversity and value personal expression for our young people within a wider whole school framework as they grow into the confident citizens that we need them to be when they’re older, and as part of their ongoing education our students will learn that there have been many famous LGBT people throughout history who have made valuable contributions to many of the subject areas that form our school’s curriculum, such as Alan Turing in Maths, Federico García Lorca in Spanish, Dusty Springfield in Music, Carole Ann Duffy in English, Laverne Cox in Drama and Ben Barres in Science. Like with most learning, of course, our education around equality works best if it isn’t simply confined to a one-off moment in the school year and for this reason we will also be launching a new lunchtime club, Prism, which will provide our students with an optional, additional safe space to talk to adults or peers about their own feelings around LGBT or other equality-related issues. Daubeney Academy is indeed, as was noted in our 2017 IQM report, “an inclusive community that values every child”, and I am proud of the efforts of our school community to ensure that inclusion and equality remain at the heart of everything that we do.