WEEK 13 - Friday 10 December 2021
Last month, I wrote to you about our commitment to tackle discriminatory language in and outside of our school. “It’s Not Banter” is the tagline we have used for this and the first signs that this is beginning to ‘land’ are appearing as we start to hear students using that term to challenge one another. It is refreshing that we are able to have these open and honest conversations with students about the language that is sometimes used between students, especially between students who are different from one another.
At the start of my teaching career, working in Lincolnshire but still living in Hull, issues of diversity and inclusion were undeveloped, to say the least. One ex-colleague, I recall, once told me that “we don’t have any issues with diversity or discrimination because we’re all just white british in this part of the world.” I would certainly argue, and thankfully most people would now agree with me, that living and working in a region that is predominantly White British in terms of ethnicity creates even more reason for us to understand the differences that exist between us.
At Hessle High School, the proportion of our students that are not White British is now above 10% and this has tripled in the past five to six years. We are an increasingly diverse community not only in terms of race, but also in terms of disability, sexuality, language and religion and it is our responsibility to educate all of our students about this diversity and also to celebrate it.
It has been really pleasing to attend our TCAT Conference today where the theme was Diversity and Inclusion and where we heard from a number of teachers that work in more diverse communities than ours. They spoke about how they have helped to create truly inclusive schools where differences are genuinely celebrated. At Hessle High, we really believe that young people are much better equipped for a successful life if they are confident in dealing with people of all types, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality or economic background. True social mobility can only occur when young people have the skills to communicate with as broad a range of people as possible. Our programme at Hessle and the experiences we have heard from colleagues in our conference will only help us to support students in that journey.
With just one week to go until the end of term, thoughts of Christmas are on everyone’s minds and we are all hopeful that we will be able to have more of a celebratory Christmas together this year. We know as well that the Christmas period can be an especially anxious time for families and children. Chat Health is a local charity that can provide support for families who need someone to speak to during the Christmas Holidays. If you feel that this is something that may help you, more information can be found here.
Further support is also available to promote active lifestyles. In partnership with East Riding of Yorkshire Council, YogaBugs offer all families on free school meals access to their online yoga and mindfulness platform. This is completely FREE from now to the end of January and can be found here.
Next week will be a busy one in school. The students will continue learning until the final day but we also mark the upcoming festivities by taking time to enjoy our Tree of Kindness - this is our school Christmas Tree which has pride of our place in our atrium and is now decorated with hundreds of gift tags - each one of which bearing a message that one of our students has written. These are their Christmas wishes which may be dedicated to a family member, or for their wider community. They are beautiful to see and to read and we are very proud of it.
Whatever you are doing this weekend, stay safe and take care.