Real Change

What next for schools in the wake of Black Lives Matter, Everyone’s Invited and Me Too? One thing is clear: schools and educational institutions everywhere are having to review their policies and practices at the most fundamental level and work harder at creating communities that are genuinely egalitarian. It is not enough to have the legislation, the policies and the posters in place. What is needed is a continued cultural shift until respect for difference is embedded into the DNA of the school.

Most schools are improving their frameworks around staff training, recruitment, teaching and learning, and pastoral care with respect to these challenges, but on a day-to-day level every single staff member needs to understand the key issues in challenging discrimination in a personal sense so that they can truly support the young people in their care to do the same.

Some aspects of discrimination as outlined by the Equal Opportunities Act are visible – ethnicity, gender and age being three obvious examples – but there are many “unseen” aspects of disadvantage and disability which, when not understood, can cause a lifetime of difficulty for anyone discriminated against on account of them: neurodiversity, mental health and socio-economic disadvantage being three more such examples.

Real change takes time of course but there is a great deal that schools can do immediately to promote true inclusion. Staff training (including the Board of Advisors), pupil voice and parent forums all help us to move forward together in partnership, and build a school community which has respect and understanding for difference at its core.

At The Roche School we have always enjoyed the positive aspects of pupil diversity – a cultural richness which includes the enjoyment of individuality, a willingness to learn from others, and the open-mindedness of challenging traditional assumptions; however, we are not complacent and we are determined that here, in one of the greatest cities in the world, we play our part in creating a fairer world by preparing our pupils in this respect as they move towards senior school.

Allana Ashmeil – Diversity Lead The Roche School

This year our new Diversity Lead, Allana Ashmeil, who understands first-hand the issues around race and gender, will help lead staff, parents and pupils on that journey. The determination to keep on getting better is a hallmark of our school’s intention to remain “small but mighty”, leading by example in the independent sector.

Vania Adams, Headmistress

Click here to read the Open University article on Allana Ashmeil.