How do we ‘teach’ diversity at St. Osmund’s?
Our inclusion statement expresses our commitment as a Christian middle school in how we value all members of our school community:
Be proud of the skin you are in.
We should be able to be transparent about culture and race to protect everyone. In society there is fear of being called racist and well as fear of being seen as demonstrably racist.
We do not want to be a ‘colour-blind’ school where we don’t talk about race and we treat everyone the same; we have to accept that the experience of a student of colour will be different to that of a white student. We will not erase the experience they bring. We will have conversations about what it means to be white, black, Asian and of other and multi-heritage. We will celebrate all identities, including white identity, culture and heritage. We will develop a humane, inclusive community.
Our staff receive training and updates regularly from our Headteacher (who delivers professional development on Diversity both within Dorset and nationally) and our school Diversity Lead.
As a school, we embrace opportunities to reflect upon, learn about and celebrate aspects of diversity from historic, present and future perspectives. Geographically we are situated in a rural community populated largely by Caucasian/white people; however, we want our pupils to open their eyes to the wide range of human beings and cultures that make our modern world.
In order to ‘teach’ diversity, we look to incorporate whatever learning opportunities, activities and events we can into life at St. Osmund’s. Displays of wall art, posters, photos, topic boards and books are used to heighten visual awareness of diversity. Examples of these can be seen on the various rolling images on this page including the 15m long x 2.4m high wall ‘timeline’ we designed and installed in 2021. This allows members of our school community to literally walk through the creation of our planet and celebrate a wide spectrum of individuals and groups who have made their mark upon the world and society in which we live today.
During the dark times of the 2021 lockdown and with online learning and research needing to take place at home, a whole-school PSHE project was set for pupils to interview grandparents or older members of their family. From the interviews, 500 word accounts were written and submitted with a variety published into our Heritage Book. Each child and member of staff was given a copy allowing us to share the experiences and stories from times past, different generations, culture and opportunities.
We have always found that pupil-driven and organised events and activities have a big impact upon our school. Please see the attached documents indicating various things undertaken by pupils and staff at St. Osmund’s over the past few years.
Whilst much of our formal input covering diversity happens through dedicated topics in the PSHE curriculum, below are some examples of other subject areas taking opportunities to explore themes.
Dedicated half-term modules in Years 5, 7 and 8 with topics including:
Year 5 Relationships and identities: How are people different?
Exploring British values, diversity and make up of different family units; loving relationships
Year 7 Respecting Differences: What Is mutual respect?
Prejudice and stereotypes; difference and diversity in families; family and gender roles.
Yr8 Diversity, Identity and Heritage: Where do we come from and why are we different?
Diversity and discrimination; diversity and migration; identity and heritage.
In PSHE, Year 8 have responded to the question ‘How do you want your school to celebrate Diversity?’ with ideas and comments on post-it notes. Many have asked for LGBT+ awareness to be raised via events in school, and a student-led LGBT+ group for students to be created. Taking the lead on this, a small group of Year 8 students have formed a new LGBT+ group called ‘ARC’ (Awareness, Respect, Celebration’) to create a space for Year 8 students to meet one lunchtime each week to socialise and support one another.
The Geography curriculum has been carefully designed to develop the learner’s sense of their place in the world. An understanding of the human and physical geography of their local area is included in each year group. A detailed location of where they live in year 5 moves on to an investigation of place in year 6, with a focus on the future changes to Dorchester as the population increases and the physical and human factors that affect the decision-making. The learning in years 7 and 8 include local fieldwork opportunities and the geomorphological processes that have shaped both the local coastal and fluvial landscapes.
The study of place is broadened through both key stages. For example, in year 5 we investigate Brazil to include a detailed location, its diverse landscapes and a focus on city land use models compared to the UK. A case study of a favela in Rio questions assumptions made about the quality of life and standard of living. Learning looks at both the economic, social and environmental positives and negatives, and examines the strategies outlined for the future in terms of sustainability.
In year 7 studies of Africa and the Middle East are designed to recognise and explain global inequalities looking at human and physical obstacles to development and why such inequalities exist. Investigations of China and India in year 8 develop a global outlook and should help learners progress from concern for the poor to social justice for all.
We take a critical look at globalisation and how it impacts countries in both the global north and south. Understanding of how differences in climate, natural hazards, political systems, culture, demography, employment structure and interdependence can affect the development of a country. This understanding then leads to questions about how to narrow the development gap by looking at the HDI of countries and also examining the difference between quality of life and standard of living.
Climate change causes and effects are examined throughout, and again, assumptions and misconceptions about newly industrialised countries being the ‘villains’ are challenged. The impacts and irreversible effects in regions such as the Arctic, island communities and areas affected by desertification along with future global impacts as well as impacts on the UK are studied.
Resources are carefully chosen. Eurocentric maps are criticised, Pacific Ocean centred maps are used alongside Peters maps. This allows students to appreciate the true size of continents such as Africa and how disproportionate are countries such as Greenland.
Year 5 - we study The Arrival by Shaun Tan. A book about a family who migrate to another country and how their cultures differ. The outcome of the unit is to write a letter persuading the government to let refugees stay in the country. This is followed in the summer term by studying the novel Kick by Mitch Johnson set in Indonesia. It is about aspiration no matter the circumstances.
In reading with Year 5 we look at the following notable people: Lilian Bader, Mae Jemison, Helen Sharman, Ada Lovelace, John Archer and Tim Berner's Lee. All of these challenge pre-conceptions in various walks of life. They are also not the stereotypical examples of diversity often shared in schools. In addition we have a unit on the theme of equality too.
The Year 6 summer term class novel for is ‘Can You See Me? - narrated by a character with autism. The story shows the challenges and benefits of living with autism.
In reading with Year 6 we study the themes of inspirational women, media representations and civil rights as well as the following notable people: Alan Turing, Malala Yousafazi, Claudette Colvin, John Brodie, Reginald Joseph Mitchell and Kitty Wilkinson. These are not the stereotypical examples of diversity often shared in schools.
Also in Year 6 our work on the book Holes leads to discussions on the theme of racism.
In Year 7 we study Boy in the Striped Pyjamas which deals with the Holocaust and racism
Year 8 read Refugee Boy and write a persuasive speech to keep the boy and his father in Britain.
Pupils study the slave trade in Year 8, emphasising there were non-white people in England before slavery but also that not all non-white people were slaves. We talk about modern day slavery and how this can be white-Europeans as well as people from Asia, India and Africa. The book Empireland is a key resource for staff in supporting this topic.
In Year 6 pupils cover Benin and African Kingdoms. They discuss issues such as Queen Victoria being gifted an African Slave girl. Other aspects include opportunities to talk around different religions and attitudes towards them historically – exploring how Jews were not just persecuted by Hitler, but back to the Crusades and earlier.
We explore historic attitudes and treatment of disabled people. We also look at the 1921 Census available online and details such as how it shows around 3000 Jamaicans living in England in 1921, many working as doctors. Further discussion then leads to questioning gender equality alongside class, suffragettes and other elements affecting diversity at that time.
We also mark Holocaust Memorial Day with dedicated lessons.
Within the resources used for maths, graphics and exemplars are conscious to include a diverse range people and names. This is thankfully moving away from the traditional Caucasian/white models used in so much of previous educational materials.
Within the Year 6 curriculum, we have now included a lesson on the life and work of Alan Turing.
In Global Cooking Club we make a mixture of sweet and savoury dishes from around the world. These have included Indian chicken curry, American vintage cookies, Scottish shortbread, Italian Focaccia bread and Pizza
We aim to develop a new dish every week following students input.
As part of the Key Stage 3 curriculum, we encourage pupils to try variations of tastes and flavours from across the world. Within the Year 7 topic making soups and stir-frys - pupils can experience chilli, beans, clear noodle, using fresh herbs and spices of the world; oriental influenced dishes using flavours hoisin, sweet & sour, soy, spices plus curried vegetables and Indian spice mix of garam masala
Year 8 explore European dishes - making pizza from choices of toppings, lasagne and an upside down caramel pudding cake.
Modern Foreign Languages
We have developed a number of initiatives to promote diversity and develop our pupils as global citizens. These have included:
- Global Bakeoff – reflecting the range of our community diversity through cultural dishes and food.
- School Partnerships – links with schools in France (Paris and Bayeux) and Spain (Barcelona).
Within the languages schemes, references are made to worldwide countries where Spanish and French are spoken. From this, work can cover links to differences in cultures, festivals and celebrations. Resources used celebrate pupils from different ethnic backgrounds creating a rich diversity.
The importance of communication with tolerance and understanding of different people and cultures is integral to learning a language.
Diversity – Projects and changes.
A chronology of things implemented in order to develop our work on developing the theme of diversity within St. Osmund’s Middle School:
- Syrian Refugee students’ presentation for Year 8.
- Curriculum audit of diversity/representation across all subjects – led to some subjects including new or updating existing units of work.
- eg: English – improved inclusion of work by Black and Brown authors, stories set in other cultures.
- Geography – country focus on Dubai.
- History – updating Year 8 Slave Trade unit of work.
- Syrian Refugee students’ presentation for Year 8, including Syrian food experience.
- Arabic translation of RSE documents for Arabic speaking parents.
- LGBT+ Ally training for staff – promoting equity and inclusion for LGBT students by providing allyship to support students and address unconscious homophobia in school.
- Support of numerous LGBT+ students and their families with gender identity.
- Gender Neutral toilets renamed.
- Refugee walk – I Am Human walk raised over £2,300 for The Refugee Council, named after three Syrian students who had to flee Syria in 2011. Y8 students replicated the distance of their walk (630km) to honour their experience.
- Our Heritage Book published – a collection of heritage stories from across the school community.
- Halal lunches provided for Muslim students.
- Culture club: a club run by and for students with a personal link with or wider interest in multi-culturalism, mixed-race and non-White heritage. Culture Club organised, promoted and ran the International Food Fair in October 2021 which raised over £300.
- Diversity Lead delivered INSET on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion.
- Black History Month – an art project celebrating Black and Brown British Paralympic athletes, a writing competition to create. Inked-Out Poetry, based on texts written by contemporary Black Britons, the winning entries went on display in Dorchester.
- Marked Divali festival to honour our Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh students and staff.
- School Culture Club planning folktale project.
- ARC – LGBT Year 8 asked to set up a weekly space to meet and support LGBT students in school.
- Staff Training on Unconscious Bias delivered by Diversity Lead