They say you change a culture one conversation at a time. At St Augustine’s Priory we are doing just that both in school and by equipping our students with the tools to transform the world. Our society is yearning for people of integrity who know how to challenge injustice and to listen with open hearts.
St Augustine’s is a richly diverse school and our avowed Catholic ethos makes us attractive to families of other faith traditions precisely because they recognise that we treasure this aspect of our work. It also means that we are at home with the complexity of creating and sustaining a culture where Equity, Diversity and Inclusion are folded into all of our work.
It is challenging work, and it takes care and commitment. We are wholeheartedly embracing what it means to engage with best practice in EDI. We are members of the School Inclusion Alliance. We use the calendars from this organisations to steer our assemblies and their terms of reference for our Inclusion Committees in the Juniors and Seniors.
The Inclusion Committees meet every fortnight with agendas led by students. They are a real forum for discussion, reporting, and exploring how we create a culture which respects all protected characteristics, and which enables active listening.
Some examples of our work would be the Curriculum reviews which have taken place across the school to ensure that slavery and other aspects of the British Empire and colonialism are covered. Students told us they wanted to learn more about world religions and so this has been amplified and given greater prominence. We have addressed representation in class readers, in displays, in text books and library resources, in Music and hymns. We have changed the texts which are taught in English Literature. These are just some of the ways in which student voice and an earnest desire to challenge unconscious bias has been harnessed. One of our governors Floyd Steadman has an increasingly national profile on training in unconscious bias and he has trained our staff and students. All of us continue to access training in all areas of EDI and our approach to recruitment of staff also reflects this. We are supported in this by our membership of Inclusive Employers – an organisation which helps with training and wide ranging resources.
Our toolkit RADIO continues to help all of us choose our words without fear, to have brave conversations, to deal with micro aggressions if they occur. We are all learning together.