The shocking events following the tragic death of George Floyd in the USA have rightly sparked outrage and grief across the world, causing us all to reflect on our own values and attitudes towards racism – as individuals and as members of our school community.
We are privileged to be members of a racially diverse community at Northampton High School and I am proud of the fact that we avoid stereotyping, racism and unconscious bias. Indeed, our ISI inspection report earlier this year commented on this on many occasions, stating that ‘pupils show extremely high levels of respect for each other, being sensitive to different cultural traditions’ and that they are ‘tolerant and sensitive to each other’.
I am proud, too, of the fact that our school community is so passionate about the #BlackLivesMatter agenda and that there is great appetite to increase recognition of this through curricular and other means. Our students in partnership with our senior team have already been proactive in bringing matters of race to wider school community and plans are underway to move the agenda forward.
Much is already in place of course, however, we are keen to make the spirit of #BLM an inherent part of school life in all areas. We recognise that any change will be sustainable only if it comes jointly from the students themselves, myself and the senior team.
I have been hugely appreciative of our school community’s response to the situation and would like to thank the many parents who have volunteered to join the Diversity and Inclusion Forum and the students who have willingly come forward to form a society on the same theme. With so many committed to changing the culture for current and future generations of students, both in our own setting and beyond, we really have the opportunity to make a difference.
On a wider level, the GDST recognises that the organisation’s history and mission in helping girls to learn without limits – to achieve gender justice – cannot be achieved without racial justice, too. Consequently, our organisation plans to form a steering committee to work on a GDST Charter of Action that will ensure that staff, students, alumnae and parents have an opportunity to influence and contribute to the organisation’s goals and commitments in this area.
The Charter seeks to address ‘HOW we will make sure the GDST family always embodies an ethos of mutual respect and consideration; HOW we provide a safe, open and respectful working and learning environment for all; and HOW we will make sure everyone’s voice is heard as we seek to make meaningful change happen’. I very much hope that members of our community will commit to this, too.
Caroline Petryszak – 12 June 2020