The school, with its large and active pastoral team, is committed to the wellbeing of each student. However, as Ms Semple points out, the benefits of a culture of diversity and inclusion go well beyond supporting just the individual. Studies and real-life experiences in the workplace have shown inclusive places are stronger and outperform those that are not; doing what is best for each member of a group makes the entire community more successful.
“I am so excited to be working with the students on the diversity group,” says Ms Semple. “Where there is collaboration and teamwork, amazing things can happen!”
While there is always more to do, let’s consider what has happened so far and where we are now.
Last year, the school conducted a comprehensive diversity study among the entire student body, which was completed by over 70% of students (an excellent response rate). Students recognised the work being done to raise the profile of diversity and inclusion and were positive and appreciative. The level of engagement was high with many open comments and suggestions for improvements.
Detailed findings of the report are on the student portal but, in summary, the overall findings were very positive. Students clearly feel, in the main, that they are psychologically safe, valued and have a sense of belonging. There is clearly a feeling of inclusion, with low levels of intentional exclusion reported.
This is an excellent base on which to build. Since then, the school has made some tangible changes and encouraged each one of us to consider how we think. You may have noticed the school calendar recognises religious celebrations and special lunches mark particular festivals. The LV have a Diversity Day with SPS and the English department have established a popular Diverse Speakers’ Forum, which brings in a range of speakers representing varied backgrounds and experiences. Not to be outdone by the students’ diversity group, the staff have also set up a diversity forum of their own.
PSHE lessons have covered many aspects of discrimination that are not immediately obvious, such as unconscious bias and how to tackle it. Students have been encouraged to think about and share aspects of their own upbringing and culture with each other.
Diversity and inclusion at St Paul’s are not about political correctness but about a value system, which we hope each student will carry with her for life.