Equality & Diversity
During the year 2016-2017, Friars took part in an Equality and Diversity programme to help build a more caring and fair ethos within the school and this is our story…
At Friars we have a caring, co-operative whole school ethos which aims to develop positive behaviour where both staff and pupils respect and value individual differences and diversity. We actively promote values of respect and equality and work to ensure that difference and diversity is celebrated across the whole school community and we want our school to be a place where every person has the right to be themselves; to be included and to learn in a safe and happy environment.
During 2015-2016 Friars spent the academic year working with parents, staff and children to embed a new syllabus of Relationship and Sex education in schools, to enhance the PHSE curriculum. This new curriculum took steps to enable pupils to have a better understanding of safe, positive relationships, diversity within our family units and increase the empathy, tolerance, understanding and equality for all within the school environment and beyond.
However, after introducing the new curriculum it was felt that further improvements were needed in the quality of the provision and staff were committed to promoting an ethos of equality and diversity for all. Our senior leadership team had a growing awareness of the need for further education regarding e-safety and cyber bullying for staff, parents and pupils. We aimed to reduce incidents of bullying behaviours across all key stages and promote an inclusive environment through collaborative work with specialist advisory services.
We surveyed pupils from years 5 and 6 and the initial survey indicated that 49% of our children had been subjected to bullying both in and outside of the school environment. 36% of our children said that they had been verbally bullied because of how they look, their race or religion. It was evident from the survey that a focus needed to be placed on reducing low level verbal unkindness and the use of the homophobic language being used as a derogatory term.
Overall pupils felt that bullying was dealt with well by staff at Friars, but 12% of children were not telling an adult when they had experience bullying either at home or in school. The data denoted a need for staff to provide a teaching programme to further support pupils to know how to report, challenge and identify different types of bullying.
What activities / interventions were put in place?
We introduced the Equality and Diversity programme in a staff meeting and as a whole school assembly. We then took ideas from the classroom to our school council. From this we implemented a new system of Year 6 playground leaders, on our KS1 and 2 playgrounds, who would provide further support for pupils during social activities and feed back to playground staff daily and our senior leadership team on a weekly basis.
Special Days Calendar
Through the duration of the school year 2016 -2017 students have been involved in a variety of special days to promote British values and celebrate the diverse cultures within our community. These have included Jeans for Genes Day, Children in Need, Chinese New Year, E-safety Day and Anti-bullying Week. All students were given the opportunity to enter our Equality and Diversity art competition, where they were asked to design a picture celebrating equality and diversity. The winning entries are being used to produce an art installation in the main hall and a mural in the Friendship Garden. As well as the many visitors organised by the program, the NSPCC came to Friars for a KS1 and KS2 assembly on how the children should safeguard themselves. They told the children about Childline, but also the importance of having a network of adults to speak to. They returned to the school to hold workshops with years 5 and 6, which were both enjoyable and valuable, in making the children aware of safety
Our KS1 children have also enjoyed learning about equality and diversity through age appropriate stories. Stories have been shared during assemblies and PSHE lessons to provide stimulus for our discussions. Most of the work has been completed as whole class groups to really provide a feeling of ‘togetherness’ and a shared focus on the messages the stories give us.
The children enjoyed hearing about some of the different religions and beliefs that children and teachers have at Friars. One of our pupils shared her experiences of Eid. She told the children about these amazing henna Mendhi patterns and explained how traditionally, mums draw these for their daughters. Another of our pupils shared what it meant to be a Jehovah’s witness. He told them all about his experiences and answered questions from the other children.
The children were also visited by Miss Linden, who spoke to them about the Jewish faith. They then completed their own independent work to explain what they had learnt about Judaism.
What was the impact?
Students reported that they felt empowered by the variety of different workshop interventions that have taken place. They feel better able to identify different types of bullying and know the importance of reporting incidences of bullying and bullying type behaviours to staff.
Through a process of consultation with students this year on how to improve methods of tackling bulling in our school we have introduced an anonymous system of reporting where they feel concerned about something that they may have witnessed or when they are being subjected to bullying type behaviours.
We have also had pupil discussion about the introduction of a child friendly bullying policy and the school council say that feed-back from their peers has been positive. They are all more confident that bullying will be dealt with and worry less about the repercussions of telling adults.
What was achieved, and how did we know?
Following our end of year surveys students reported that there had been a reduction in the use of the word ’gay’ as a derogatory term on the playground. Overall physical, emotional and verbal bullying has decreased. There has been an increase in children talking to adults and reporting incidents. There has been a reduction in pupils being bullied because of their race or religion and overall pupils feel safer at school during break and lunch times.
Staff reported that following Stonewall training they felt much more confident in tackling LGBT issues and this has been reflected in our data. Our playground leaders are more confident in tackling unkind behaviour and reporting this and any incidents of bullying direct to school staff.
Having had a positive turn out for our parents CEOP workshops we are looking to extend parent sessions for both CEOP and equality and diversity for the coming year.
Organise further workshops for pupils next year using the ideas from this year
Further training for staff, governors and playground leaders
Revise the PHSE curriculum to further embed equality and diversity programme.
Further revision of our anti-bullying policy to take into account our new guidance.
Our school council will be producing an anti-bullying video that will be scripted by them to be included in our school website for the next academic year.
We have sent out a parent survey to find out if parents feel that bullying is dealt with effectively and that we keep their children safe. At the same time we are asking parents if they would like to be part of a Parent Council to have a say in forming school policy and giving ideas how to develop Friars.
The children have explored equality and diversity through a range of stories. They now have an understanding that although we are all different, we are all equal.
Mrs Snow - Head of KS1
In Year 1 we know that we are all different but we are all important. Maisie knows her Mum is a teacher in a Catholic school, Mitchell knows he will be christened soon and the children have loved asking Miss Linden about her faith.
Mrs Bennet, Early Years Manager
We are all the same