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Hessle High School

WEEK 9 - Friday 12 November 2021

“It’s Not Banter” - that is the slogan with which we will be launching a new campaign to address discrimination over the coming weeks.  

Every school is its own community and in many ways it is also a microcosm of society at large. Our school is no different and I am hugely proud of our diverse and vibrant community...

“It’s Not Banter” - that is the slogan with which we will be launching a new campaign to address discrimination over the coming weeks.  

Every school is its own community and in many ways it is also a microcosm of society at large. Our school is no different, and I am hugely proud of our diverse and vibrant community. But with diversity comes challenge. It is incumbent upon us as leaders to ensure that all members of our community respect the differences that they see every day and, as much as possible, use those differences to learn from one another and enrich their own lives. It is also our duty to ensure that those who are vulnerable to discrimination are not only protected from it, but that we do our best to understand what it is like to face discrimination in whatever form.

As a white, able-bodied, heterosexual man, I have never faced any discrimination in my life. I grew up in a stable home. We weren’t well off, but I never considered that we were poor. My parents did manual work and never went to university. I did and, although I am incredibly grateful for my education, I didn’t feel privileged. When I entered teaching, I was racked with self-doubt. As a headteacher, I feel the full force of imposter syndrome on a regular basis. And yet, the more that I have read and tried to understand about discrimination, I have begun to realise that my life has been blessed in part because of those bits of my life that would have traditionally been classed as ‘normal’. I can walk dark streets at night and not worry about sexual abuse or violence; I can travel wherever I want in the world and not fear harassment due to my skin colour or sexuality. As I have grown older, I am more aware of these things and more determined to ensure that those who are different to me can enjoy those same ‘privileges’ (for want of a better word).

Similarly, as we work with students in the coming months, I am also aware that my tolerance comes from parents who are equally tolerant. I never witnessed racist, homophobic or misogynistic behaviour at home, and so I grew up able to accept people for what they are. That is another reason that I am fortunate. Our young people, and their generation in general, are the most tolerant generation I have ever known.  But, sadly, some young people grow up in communities and households where intolerant behaviour and language are commonplace. All behaviour is learned behaviour and, in order to break the cycle of discrimination, we not only have to educate our young people but also give them an opportunity to change any intolerant behaviour that they have learned outside of school.

Very often, discriminatory language is passed off as ‘banter’. But it is not banter. It hurts and it causes real harm. At Hessle Academy it is not tolerated, and we will be working hard to give people (staff and students) the skills and confidence to call it out and to deal with it.  

This week was our Year 9 Parents’ Information Evening. Over 250 people attended across three sessions to hear about our options programme, careers support and the importance of high attendance. Thank you to those parents that attended and, if you were unable to attend, you can find the PowerPoint slides here.

The coming weeks will see Parent Consultation Evenings for both Year 7 and Year 9 students.  Both of these will be held online, and we will be in touch shortly with information on how you can make appointments. Please try to attend. It is important that we continue to work together to support our young people. If you are unable to attend or not able to log online, please also contact the school to discuss how we can provide you with the feedback you need.

Finally, it has been a fine week in school. The weather has been unseasonably pleasant which makes it a real pleasure to be out and about on duty. The students have been on top form and behaviour and attitudes are very positive across all year groups. Thank you for everything you do to contribute to this - it is really appreciated.

Have a lovely weekend.

Mr Groak, Headteacher