Black Lives Matter response
As a Trust, we respond to issues faced by society today and we influence and support thousands of children and students on a daily basis. We hold as self-evident the truth that black lives matter. We want people to know that we will not tolerate racism and we will not accept ignorance or prejudice.
We are aware of the vital role that schools can play in dismantling systemic racism. As a community, we can reflect on the progress that has been made but, more importantly, know that there is still much to do. We are fortunate to be part of such a diverse community in Slough and we commit to doing all that we can to promote fairness and equality. Therefore, we pledge to work together to drive change so that we can better equip our children and staff with the knowledge they need to understand, recognise and address complex social issues, including racism.
Over the last few weeks and at our most recent Trust meeting, the Trustees and senior teams in The Arbib Education Trust have been reflecting on the shocking and horrific death of George Floyd and the subsequent global response. We have specifically focussed on how we can play a positive role going forward. A new Working Group, consisting of staff, children, parents and governors, is being established to respond to these issues and make proposals for action. It will report to the Trust’s Executive Principal, Rhodri Bryant, who will also attend.
We have a great deal of flexibility to adapt our curriculum material, including within the subjects of History, Geography, and Personal, Social, Citizenship and Health Education (PSCHE). Among the tasks of the Working Group will be to examine robustly the curricula across the Trust, to enable a deeper understanding and knowledge of the roots of racism, and to scrutinise all aspects of school life including staffing, administration and leadership. We largely follow the National Curriculum and acknowledge that exam boards indicate much of the school curriculum. Meaningful reform will also stem from the government so we look forward to understanding how the government will develop this in the coming months.
The Arbib Education Trust recognises that ongoing learning is required for us all and that more needs to be done. We want our children and students to be aware of inequality, to understand its causes and effects and to be committed to doing something about it. This is not a matter that we have suddenly begun to address, but the appalling events in the USA and the surge of global outrage are a powerful reminder of the need for action, particularly when it highlights the challenges within our own community. We will provide additional diversity training for staff as well as encourage all children in our Trust to talk to us about their anxieties and their concerns and, importantly, their proposed solutions. Progress has been made, but more is needed. It is unlikely that any school will be truly free of racist behaviour and we will need to address the unconscious biases within our community. There are no grounds for complacency. We know that we must teach about racism but that more than this, an understanding of racism and its history must be in the DNA of the schools, who we are, what we do and how we do it.
Below are some examples from the current work of our 3 schools:
The Langley Academy Primary
The school has a Discovery Day each year to explore themes of diversity. In 2020 the school learned about respect, difference and individuality, including sessions led by a black author and a performance poetry workshop which reflected this theme. Within the curriculum deliberate choices are made to teach children about influential black lives. Children learn about Mary Seacole, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Stevie Wonder. In Year Three they study the Civil Rights Movement and Rosa Parks. School displays and resources reflect the diversity of the school; in Free flow, children play with a range of world foods, non-white dolls and babies; ‘Key Texts’ are chosen with a range of characters and races, for example black ‘Hansel and Gretel’ and Handa’s Surprise.
The Langley Heritage Primary
The school actively discuss issues around racism and prejudice with children and within the staff group and challenge racism in a multitude of ways. The school is proud of their deeprooted inclusive practice. The curriculum, including PHSCE, more directly covers and includes representations of people who look different from each other and allows them to unpick some inbuilt and sometimes unknown biases we hold about other people. Aik Saath, a local charity, has delivered training for staff and worked with year groups to challenge and support them in rethinking their unconscious bias. Over the last few weeks they have been working on discussing the issues, in an age appropriate way, about what has been happening across the world and asked the children to complete an individual profile of someone who is influential. They have additionally sent a support information booklet out to parents to assist them in discussing challenging issues around this, with their children.
The Langley Academy
The school endeavours to develop a curriculum that reflects the diversity of the Academy community and encourages their students to understand and question their place in the world. As well as subject specific content, race, and specifically black lives, are explored in the wider curriculum through PSHE, Museum Learning and assemblies. Through their culture and systems, including the House system and Behaviour Policy, we challenge racism at every opportunity.
The Arbib Education Trust is founded on principles of equality and inclusivity and we will work exceptionally hard to ensure that our practice recognises this. We are determined that we seize this moment as a catalyst for real and sustained change for the better and that we understand that empty promises and words alone will not result in any permanent change.