Headmaster’s Blog 26.03.21

The importance of respecting others has been a recurring theme of my assemblies over my time at the School.  It was one of the key values that the boys and staff identified when the Values Wheel was designed a couple of years ago and it is something that visitors to the School often commented on.  A conversation that began with the first set of anti-bullying ambassadors, the importance of being an ‘upstander’ and speaking out when you see another person being treated with disrespect and unkindness, has grown over the course of this week to make it clear that as a community we should be ‘upstanders’ when we encounter racist or misogynistic behaviours or any other discrimination against minorities and those with protected characteristics.

I mentioned in my newsletter a couple of weeks ago that we had conducted a survey through an organisation called Flair to give us a better understanding of how this important issue impacts on our community, to help us identify the areas of this complex issue that the boys need our help to understand, and what we can do to ensure we are not just a community that is tolerant and accepting of others, but is anti-racist and actively working to challenge these views. I was very pleased when we received the results of the survey.  Not only did we have one of the highest returns that the organisation had seen, strongly suggesting that the boys and staff want to engage actively with this issue, but also that the community embraces its diversity, that the vast majority of our non-white British students do not feel that their ethnicity makes them feel less included at school and that students across the year groups feel confident talking about issues surrounding race.  It also identified that boys need help understanding micro-aggression and need strategies to help them challenge racist behaviour.

Those of you who regularly read the newsletter will know about the work that the School has done with Beyond Equality (formerly Great Men) as part of our vision to help the boys face the challenges of being a young man in the 21st century.  What began with workshops has grown into a project that has seen them working with us on the PSHE programme, complemented by the Great Men Lecture Series coordinated by Miss Eaves.  The recent tragic murder of Sarah Everard, the testimony of former female pupils of many other schools, has meant that we as a School are bringing this same approach as we are with racism to sexism and misogyny. The School’s stance on disrespectful unkind behaviour has, I hope, always been clear but I am pleased that we are going to be working with the boys to give them the confidence to be anti-bullying, anti-racist and anti-sexist and feel ready to make a positive influence on the School community and more widely.  I hope you will join us in challenging these views and tackling the difficult questions that your sons may have.

I hope that you have a good weekend.

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