During the whole school assembly this week, Mr Doodes announced that King’s would be forming a pupil-led EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) committee.
During last year, the King’s community-made exceptional steps in addressing issues which affect all schools across the land, confronting everyday sexism and shouting out both the conscious and subconscious bias in our daily narrative. What started as a debate then morphed into a group, and since the summer the Change the Narrative club has been meeting. This group, indeed, the whole debate, is about confronting what has before been seen as taboos, giving an open space for discussion, and celebrating and promoting inclusion, equality, and diversity.
EDI (Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion) ensures fair treatment and opportunity for all. It aims to eradicate prejudice and discrimination based on an individual or group of individuals’ protected characteristics.
Inclusion. What does that mean?
Inclusion means creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and valued. An inclusive environment can only be created once we are more aware of our unconscious biases and have learned how to manage them.
Equality. What does that mean? At its core, equality means fairness: we must ensure that individuals, or groups of individuals, are not treated less favourably because of their protected characteristics. Equality also means equality of opportunity: we must also ensure that those who may be disadvantaged can get the tools they need to access the same, fair opportunities as their peers.
Diversity. What does that mean? Diversity is recognising, respecting, and celebrating each other’s differences. A diverse environment is one with a wide range of backgrounds and mindsets, which allows for an empowered culture of creativity and innovation.
There was a phrase in there which some of you may not have heard of before – protected characteristics. In 2010, The Equality Act identified protected characteristics as the following:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
Discrimination on the grounds of any of these characteristics is illegal. Discrimination can take many forms including direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, bullying, harassment and victimisation.
All organisations have a responsibility to ensure that everyone feels valued, welcome, and equal. My desire to shout-out misogyny last year, and bring the debate into the open, wasn’t simply because I felt that the issue had been ignored too long in schools. My desire was to start the process of addressing equality, diversity, and inclusion in our school, looking at every aspect of our provision, and undertaking a complete review of our practices, policies, our publications, and our communications across all three schools.
After we were inspected last year, the PSHE programme that was introduced by Mrs Rees was lauded as having made a significant impact on the community. Mrs Rees will be known well to the school, and I approached her to chair a working group with representatives from the teaching and non-teaching staff of all three schools to address Equality, Inclusion and Diversity. They have met several times and are making exceptional progress.
Now is the time to share with you that we are looking to form a pupil committee, chaired by Mrs Rees, that will address the key areas that the staff are looking at. Later this week, Mrs Rees will be sending an email to all pupils inviting them to put their names forward.
Let’s get a few things clear.
Equality, inclusion, and diversity isn’t going for woke.
It’s not only a legal requirement, but it’s fundamental to the mission of our school.
It’s about sustaining a community that was forged from the stones of a monastery with 500 years of Christ-centred history. It’s about ensuring that our community is driven by love and by compassion.
It’s also about making sure that everyone feels safe, welcome, and not judged.
I have a vision for this community which is the same as my vision of how society at large should be. It’s a vision where black, white, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, disabled, single, married, old, young are equal in all ways. The list is endless.
It’s a community where all people, every pupil, every staff member, feel protected, empowered, cared for, loved, and equal.
By forging this in our school, and getting it right here in our community, we are empowering you to get this right as you go about your daily lives, and as you leave this place, you will become shining beacons and leaders.
I encourage you to respond to the call and play a part in the pupils EDI Steering Group. And let that group encourage more equality, more hope, more humanity, more pride, more acceptance, and more love.