As the summer term draws to a close, and pupils are sitting their final exams, it strikes me that I am approaching the end of a challenging, but thoroughly enjoyable and very busy first year here at Cranleigh. Much of my work this term has been about consolidating and embedding the changes made to date and this will continue next year as we look to continue with the Cranleigh Inclusion Committee, the Surrey and Sussex EDI Leads networking events, and the Sixth-form peer mentor training.
At the very start of this term we ran a process to appoint our Cranleigh Being pupil leaders for next year and I am pleased to announce that Lottie G. is the new chair of the Pupil Wellbeing Group (PWG) with Effie S. and Will S. as her Deputy Chairs, and Millie J. is the new Chair of the Diversity Alliance with Lily Z. as her Deputy Chair. The PWG has chosen to focus on ‘mental health and interpersonal relationships’ as a new focus area and continue to promote awareness around ‘consent and anti-sexual violence’ with these sub-groups chaired by Will and Effie respectively. I am grateful to Luke M. who is leading the Anti-bullying committee, which also sits under the PWG, and I am enthusiastic that this committee can offer another avenue for pupil voice to be heard in our school.
EDI work is challenging, it is dynamic, and it is never finished, and I am proud that Cranleigh is taking a lead in promoting EDI work across the region in other schools through the Surrey and Sussex EDI Leads Networking Group. The Group met again this term and I was pleased to learn that a number of schools had taken positive inspiration and were rolling out skin-tone plasters and name recording in their own school environments as a direct result of the work we led here. We also had the second meeting of the Cranleigh Inclusion Committee, a forum for all stakeholders to have input into EDI issues that affect our community, and that meeting was primarily about opening a dialogue and setting our priorities for next year. Our focus for the upcoming year, while continuing to support and promote racial equity, is going to be a more broad focus on issues of sexism and promoting positive masculinity to counter increasing numerous toxic masculine social media influences that seem to be filling a void of the apparent absence of high-profile positive male role models in recent times.
There were a number of new initiatives this term and, under the Cranleigh Being umbrella, Lexi H. led a Podcast recording project called ‘Nooks and Cranleighs’ which was an effort to interview a number of Cranleigh staff who have either served the community for a long time, who have interesting journeys into the school, or who maintain significant or noteworthy interests outside of school. Lexi interviewed Catherine Staples from CPS admissions, Head Boy Kasim S., Head of Safeguarding Sue Fairbrother, Head of Contemporary Music Joel Robinson, Teacher of Drama and English Dominique Chapman, and Mandy Stanford and Chris Howick who work for facilities in the Laundry, managing parcels, and numerous various other roles as well. We hope that Lexi will continue to head this project and produce additional podcasts next year as well as set up a student team to continue this work.
In recognition of the UN World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development on the 21st May, we held a Multicultural Week over the following week (22 – 26 May) where Fran W. and Lily Z. led on organising a 6th form multicultural social event where students wore traditional dress or otherwise dressed to honour their own heritage or ethnicity. I particularly liked the range of outfits including one pupil proudly proclaiming I ‘heart’ being ‘their ethnicity’. There was also a world map circulated in the boarding houses where pupils were invited to place markers to indicate countries that contributed to their ethnicity or cultural identity, should they wish to. This map along with an earlier piece of work further highlighted the huge diversity we do have in our community.
On the return to school from the half term break it was June, which is Pride month, and the school was brightened with splashes of colour to recognise and mark Pride, a celebration of LGBTQ+ self-acceptance, achievements, and equality. There were numerous conversations sparked and it was exactly this spirit of learning and dialogue that the recognition of International Pride Month was meant to generate, numerous pupils, staff, and visitors have commented on how good it was that these issues are being recognised and discussed openly.
I am very pleased with the progress made this year and I am thankful to the entire Cranleigh community for how openly they have welcomed new ideas and openly discussed EDI issues. There are many more exciting projects in the pipeline along with a need to embed the new initiatives and continuing to advance everyone on their own EDI journeys, I hope that all those who are getting a break over the summer has a restful and enjoyable break.