This Michaelmas term has seemed like a long one and it seems a long time ago we were welcoming pupils back from the Summer holidays. Our new prefects and Cranleigh Being leadership team have hit the ground running and I have been pleased with the work of the various pupil leaders. The Pupil Wellbeing Group have prepared and presented a lecture on Male Mental Health and Social Media Influencers to the Fourth Form, Lower and Upper Fifth pupils which gives the junior pupils important time and space to consider these issues as well as the confidence to recognise and reach out when they need help. The Diversity Alliance groups have continued to meet on a weekly rota and attendance at those groups, particularly the recent Anti-Sexism Group, is steadily increasing.
In my role as EDI lead I ensure that we consider all aspects of diversity and inclusion, but one of the major issues in modern society remains one of racial inequity that can be evidenced in many different ways; indeed, it was racial inequity that kick-started Cranleigh’s EDI journey well before my arrival here. As a follow-up to training on unconscious bias and inclusive language there was training on identifying microaggressions and training on practical interjections delivered to all teaching staff at INSET and all pupil year groups through the PSHE programme. This ability to challenge racist behaviours, and the demand for a toolkit to do this, was identified as a need from the previous FLAIR survey and, while we need follow-up and further consolidation of the techniques, it is valuable to continue these conversations in our community. Microaggressions, as a term, were first defined by Harvard University psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce in 1970, as “commonplace verbal, behavioural or environmental slights, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative attitudes toward stigmatized or culturally marginalized groups”, and were originally defined along racial lines. Microaggressions can occur towards other groups and the ‘curb-cut effect’ of this training is that the practical interjections can be used to combat sexist, homophobic, ableist, or any other type of discriminatory comment.
Black History Month was upon us in October with this year’s theme being ‘Saluting Our Sisters’, a celebration of the contribution of Black women to British society, and it was a wide-ranging success by all accounts. Activities included poster competitions in languages and science departments; the music department publishing a daily music playlist along with producing a funk and soul performance evening and a screening of the film Chevalier; the Anti-racism group had a BHM celebration with traditional drinks and snacks that gave some pupils a new experience and others a little taste of the familiar; the English department gathered entries for the first annual national BHM poetry competition; the Art department took U6th artists to the Coulthard Gallery in London to see work by Claudette Johnson; History conducted a 4th form project on abolition and holding a Knoller Society talk on race relations in Britain post WW2; PE produced a sporting icons display; MFL Spanish introduced pupils to Cuban African and Hispanic culture learnt about poems and music from Cuba in their lessons; CPS held an assembly for pupils, in combination with Space Week, and talked about the NASA computers Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson and other prominent Black Female NASA astronauts including Dr Mae Jemison, Stephanie Wilson, Joan Higginbotham and Dr Sian Proctor.
There was a poetry performance by Yomi Sode which was attended by the public and groups from other schools as well as pupils and staff from Cranleigh; and a Business Studies talk by Serlina Boyd titled “How to be a successful entrepreneur – the challenges of launching a new magazine” which was predominantly a PSHE talk on entrepreneurship but also celebrating the achievement of a trailblazing and successful Black woman breaking into in a highly challenging and competitive industry with very practical advice to pupils on how to market, leverage and monetise a good idea!
We were pleased to achieve a Silver Award for Racial Equity with FLAIR. You can read more about FLAIR here.
David Mule, Assistant Head (Pastoral) and EDI Lead