Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter – read about our school’s commitment to anti-racist action.
Friday 12th June 2020
We have written to parents many times over the last few months. Particularly, we have tried to keep them updated about changes to schools during the current Coronavirus pandemic. These letters have sought to inform on government decisions about GCSE and A Level grades, or how our school is planning to structure online learning. But we write here about something utterly different.
If we had been open as normal, we would be supporting our students to make sense of the shocking events in the United States over the last three weeks. The appalling death of George Floyd has brought to the consciousness of millions the deliberate actions of institutional and engrained forms of discrimination that are the result of systemic racism in our societies.
This has rapidly grown into a shared conversation around the world, from Australians considering the significant over representation of indigenous deaths in custody to anti-racist protests in European cities from Amsterdam to Zagreb.
In Britain marches ranged across the country, some that you may have attended, have also raised important questions about our nation, our towns. And yes, even our schools.
If we were in school in normal times we would be addressing this directly – through assemblies, through tutor time and through guiding and advising staff how to support students with their feelings. Most importantly we would be considering how we urgently move this forwards as a school, and even more broadly across Sutton.
But because we’re not in school we have not spoken to our students enough about this. Some form tutors have done and our Heads of Year have acknowledged these global events in their weekly assemblies. We have altered some of our online curriculum to ensure that we directly address racism in our English lessons in Year 10, and will do so next week with students in Year 9.
What has become absolutely clear over the last few days is that being silent is not an option. And we fear that some of our families might worry that our limited response so far could reflect a lack of interest or responsibility; it certainly does not and we apologise for what we have lacked in speed of response and make a commitment to make up for this in terms of longevity of response.
Earlier this year, some of our students directly affected by systemic racism set up our Cultural Appreciation Society. The students delivered assemblies to the whole school about what it means to be black and British and were engaged in reviewing parts of our curriculum. We want our learning experience to be one that allows students affected by systemic racism to be seen, heard and supported in such matters, in a way that educates all students to make greater decisions and sense of the world around them. We will continue to engage with students and staff to ensure that we understand the aspects about how we operate as a school that need improving. We will be engaging with the rich and plentiful literature that is there to make sure we make informed and educated decisions. And we will be grateful for those families who offer ideas of their lived experience and how we can improve our support for your children.
We stand united with our staff, students and families in actively opposing systemic racism, prejudice and injustice.
Nick House, Headteacher, and Sue Wood, Chair of Governors
This emotive and beautiful artwork depicting George Floyd was created by Sophie Loke (Year 10) in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Sophie said: “I am proud for this artwork to be shared. It shows that the students of Greenshaw care about such matters."