Undivided: Our commitment to equality and staff training

Royal High voices

As our staff prepared for the start of term during Staff Study Days, they took part in their annual equality and inclusion training and were joined by Josiah Chudleigh and Mariya Akhtar from SARI (Standing Against Racism and Inequality), who led an insightful and challenging session. Their presentation was delivered to a socially distanced audience in the sports hall and live streamed to those who couldn’t attend because of limited space.

The group discussed unconscious bias versus conscious discrimination, the difference between these terms and the need to recognise them in ourselves and others. The session touched on the curriculum often being Eurocentric and the challenges of stereotypes in a school environment. Open and honest discussions took place around difficult conversations in the classroom and staff shared experiences of different ways to react to conflicts.

Those staff who attended were invited to talk about the importance of understanding and respecting other cultures – and questioning our own prejudices and decision-making process all the time. There’s diversity within cultures and within families and the group asked, ‘what can I do to mitigate against culture clashes and make everyone feel included?’

Josiah and Mariya discussed the nine protected characteristics and delivered a ‘terminology workshop’ for the audience to evaluate which words they thought were appropriate and which they were unsure of. This evolved into part of the session on children using offensive language without knowing its true meaning and the impact this can have.

Josiah gave a helpful process to use for decided whether terms are appropriate or not. ROC:

  • Relationship: what’s the relationship like between people using the terms?
  • Origin: where does the term originally come from?
  • Context: what’s the wider situation the term is being used in?

The session was rounded of by discussing microaggressions and how small comments or questions might not seem offensive in isolation, but when experienced every day they can build up into something very unpleasant.

Deputy Head for Academic, Hadrian Briggs explained: “This was an invaluable first step in what will become a longer-term relationship with SARI. We have further workshops and groups planned for students as well as staff, and this follows our determination to stamp out racism and ensure equality, respect and opportunity for all.”