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WEEK 22 - Friday 1 March 2024

Kindness and tolerance 

This week, I have thought a lot about the school value of “Kindness”. In the quotation below, the aviator Amelia Earhart, offers an idea we can all use to frame our thinking about the subject. Kindness adds value because its impact is cumulative: the kinder we are, the kinder others become. The idea of “paying it forward” to create a positive community culture is a key part of this value. 

In a recent episode of Radio 4’s All in the Mind – a 30 minute programme exploring the evidence on mental health, psychology and neuroscience, the idea of kindness was explored in more detail through a research project called “The Kindness Test”. Through this research, the scientists involved were able to draw a number of conclusions about how kindness impacts on us and how it can improve our culture. 

Perhaps the most interesting is one which highlights how kindness helps us understand diversity. The lead scientist in the study, Robin Banerjee, gave a really helpful explanation of how empathy and kindness help us understand difference. He puts his case so perfectly that I quote it here rather than attempting to summarise: 

“The fact of the matter is that there is always going to be differences of opinion, different perspectives, different points of view. Part of the challenge for all of us as we grow up…is navigating difference, working out how to respond when other people have different perspectives from you. And that’s the cornerstone of empathy – to walk in someone else’s shoes, to see the world from their perspective. So I think one of the things that we need to recognise is that it isn’t about standardising everything so that everyone thinks in exactly the same way. The beauty of our world comes from difference, comes from diversity. So kindness is all about the stance that we take in navigating that diversity.” 

Sometimes, through our actions, we get this wrong. We forget about the need to act kindly towards others and, consequently, prevent those “roots” from springing up. Our role as education professionals is to identify where mistakes are made, challenge the discourse, and educate our students around these topics. In doing so, I must make one thing clear: discrimination of any sort is not tolerated within our school community and any instances are treated with the utmost seriousness. As is often the case, part of that process includes the use of appropriate sanctions, however as we all know, sanctions may treat the symptoms but, on their own, they don’t treat the causes of mistakes. This is where our role to educate and re-educate comes in.  

As an English teacher, I often refer back to the origins or etymology of words and “to educate” stems from the Latin “educere”, meaning to “lead out”. In these instances, our role is to lead students out of ignorance towards a more enlightened understanding or, as the Collins English dictionary states, “to teach them better ways of doing something or a better way of living”.  

As a school, our Bridge programme and core curriculum provide opportunities to learn about and discuss the key British Values of “tolerance” and “mutual respect”. Through these programmes we aim to help students understand the culture we aim to build both in school and as a wider community.  

With this in mind, I will end by thanking you for your continued support in reminding our students of the need for kindness, tolerance and understanding within our community, not just at individual moments but through our daily actions. 

Mr Riches

Head of Year 10

Mrs Lacey

Assistant Head of Year 10