Diversity, Equality & Inclusion Update
October Update for Diversity, Equality & Inclusion at St Paul's
We now have a staff working group for diversity, equality and Inclusion which meets fortnightly to ensure that we maintain momentum on the school’s progress in this area in recent years. We would like to share what has been happening in school this previous half term with you:
We are committed to continuing dialogue with parents around diversity, equality and inclusion. Parents, guardians and carers are warmly invited to our upcoming forum on Wednesday 17th November 2021 from 2.15-3.30pm in the Hall with the staff working group, pending lifting of restrictions. Questions for the forum can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by Fri 12 Nov 2021. We hope to see you there.
INSET Sept 2021
This September, our INSET sessions ensured that all staff are aware of the children on our SEND register and those who have high learning potential. The focus was on the adaptive classroom, to make the provision accessible regardless of diagnoses. We had a whole staff discussion about our seasonal curriculum and festival cycle and are dedicating time in our College of Teachers meetings to refocus on studying festivals and their deeper meaning. We are continuing the work we started last academic year, when we added the Mid-Autumn festival and Lunar New Year festival to our seasonal curriculum, as well as celebrating Windrush Day. Our aim is to develop our awareness of ways in which we can broaden our seasonal curriculum and make our festivals inclusive of a wider range of faiths and cultural traditions.
For our first Early Years parent evening this academic year, we talked about how we are meeting diversity, equality and inclusion in the kindergartens. This included a display of books, puppets, dolls, nature table figures, dressing up clothes and musical instruments, with opportunity for parent feedback via a suggestions box.
We have celebrated Rosh Hashanah with apples and honey and sourced books featuring Jewish families and their traditions. For Mid-Autumn festival, we made mochi to share at snack time and told the story of the Rabbit in the Moon, as well as sharing a picture book’ Mooncakes’ by Loretta Seto, showing a family celebrating the festival.
This October, to mark Black History Month, we have brought a South African story, The Name of the Tree, to kindergarten as well as sharing books such as ‘Mama Panye’s Pancakes’ (A village tale from Kenya) by Mary and Rich Chamberlin, ‘Grandmother and I ‘by Helen E. Buckley and ‘Handa’s Hen’ by Eileen Browne. We are currently sourcing books to increase our representation of dual heritage families and people with disabilities. We have had some interesting conversations around our snack tables about the Paralympic athletes and seeing people use sign language.
Class I have been listening to stories from around Africa and the Caribbean, particularly when introducing letters and numbers. In literacy, the letters have been introduced through a variety of stories from all over the world. Characters' names also depict a background that is non-European in some stories told. This is the same for numeracy and the introduction of numbers. This diversity is reflected in the children's bookwork.
Class II has been engaging with a story about African drumming.
In Class III, there has been a focus on representing people of colour in black board drawings. They have built structures for the Jewish Festival of Sukkot and learnt Hebrew songs, as part of their main lesson block about different ways of constructing shelters around the world.
Class IV has been looking at African stories this half term.
Class V are learning about Hindu culture and traditions and working towards celebrating Diwali in November. They have been researching Black sporting heroes and making posters to represent their achievements.
Class VI has been looking at a poetry by Roger Robinson, who won the T. S Eliot prize in 2019 for his book ‘A Portable Paradise and was chosen by Decibel as one of 50 writers who have influenced the black-British writing canon.
In Class VII the students have been engaging in class discussions about striving and unfairness.
Class VIII has been studying Black poets for all English lessons. Students have been engaging with black writers such as Benjamin Zephaniah, Audre Lourde, Langston Hughes and May Angelou for the middle school assembly. The students have worked collectively on posters about the life and activism of Rosa Parks, which are on display in the project space. Class VIII has been singing Bob Marley’s ‘One Love’ in music lessons.
Black History Month at St Paul’s
On Friday 15 Oct 2021, we celebrated Black History Month with a series of
workshops for Classes III – VIII. Led by Gambian musician Seneke Sillah from Mbilla Arts (https://www.mbillaarts.co.uk/), students had the opportunity to play the djembe drum, learn about the instrument and its history, and participated in a collective performance in the Nave. The performance was attended by Classes I - VIII and a few Sun children.
The theme for this year’s Black History Month celebrations is ‘Proud to BE’. Inspired by the 2020 Black Lives Matter events, the campaign invited Black and Brown people of all ages throughout the UK to share what they are proud to be.
We have accessed a resource pack from blackhistorymonth.org.uk including posters featuring the following:
- Key Moments in Black British History Timeline
- Quotes through History
- Campaigners through History
- Game changer – making a difference
- Sporting Greats
- Writing History
Subjects covered in the pack include Black History in Art, Criminal Justice, Drama, English, French, History, Maths, Music, P.E (Physical Education), R.E (Religious Education)/ Citizenship / PSHE, Science, World War I & World War II. We will be working with these resources over the school year to raise awareness and educate the school community.
Following on from our influx of new books with Black protagonists, by Black authors and about Black history last year, we have purchased a new publication, ‘Happy Here’ from Knights of Media for our lower and middle school students with an introduction from bestselling author Sharna Jackson, happy here features stories and poems by 10 Black British authors for readers aged 7+.
Exploring themes of joy, home and family through a wide range of genres and styles, each author has been paired with a different illustrator to spotlight Black British artistic talent. With stories by Dean Atta, Joseph Coelho, Kereen Getten, Patrice Lawrence, Theresa Lola, E.L. Norry, Jasmine Richards, Alexandra Sheppard, Yomi Sode, and Clare Weze.
Hackney Museum, Being African in Hackney: 1960s-2020s, a new temporary exhibition at Hackney Museum, which tells the stories of people moving and living, working, studying and growing up in Hackney, from the 1960s to today.
The exhibition is open until 16 January 2022. For more information and opening times visit: www.hackney-museum.hackney.gov.uk
British Sign Language
Students have been introduced to sign language is a means of communicating using gestures, facial expressions and body language and teaching has started this week. British Sign Language or BSL is the most common form of sign language. It’s the main language of around 145,000 people in the UK and has been recognised as an official language since 2003. We are excited to embrace this new subject within our curriculum.
St Paul’s staff working group on diversity, equality and inclusion:
- Anna Retsler, Headteacher
- Tamara Allen, Administration & HR Manager/DSL
- Stephanie Gill, Early Years Representative
- Achala Wickramaratne, Chair of Teachers Meeting
- Rachel Steggall, Middle School Representative, SMSC/PHSE Lead
- Stephane Azarian and Jane Akuwudike, Subject Teacher Representatives