Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Update
Since September, Katherine Warington School has taken a proactive step to start our journey to make our community a space in which all of us can feel seen, heard and that we belong. As part of our journey (as outlined in the email sent to our families before the winter break) we have taken the time to carry out some research informing the next steps of our journey.
An important and urgent matter that we felt that we needed to take action on following the research were:
- Our Students and parents are not reporting racial incidents due to the feeling that we do not punish strictly enough or transparently enough.
- Amend the behaviour policy to show a stricter stance if/ when protected characteristics are challenged while maintaining the need/support to educate the perpetrator and simultaneously offering pastoral and wellbeing support to all involved including their families.
- Create a bystanders intervention for our students
After much reflection and discussion we decided to launch “The KWS Pledge”. As outlined by Mr Smith in his letter at the start of 2023, the intention behind this pledge was to make it known and understood by all stakeholders within our school community that we do not condone any form of disrespect.
Since its launch, I am delighted to say that more and more students have felt empowered to report something that they have seen and / or heard, which we have then actioned with the urgency and seriousness it warrants; including supporting all involved with education, pastoral and wellbeing support. Also, our staff feel more empowered to deal with these incidents when witnessed, heard or when it is brought to their attention, when maybe, before we started our journey (where improving staff literacy has become a priority) some staff didn’t have the necessary tools/ knowledge to address these matters correctly. However, and quite rightly, the launch of “The KWS Pledge” has also generated several questions from our students and families:
- What is a bystander?
- How is a bystander determined?
- Is the pledge mandatory?
- Does the badge spotlight students in a negative light, ostracising them from their peers?
We wanted to take this time before we enjoy half term, to address these questions and outline our next steps:
Is the pledge mandatory?
- No, the pledge is not mandatory, we encourage our students to develop their own autonomy on these matters; however, we hope that our students will see the value in the pledge and acknowledge its importance within our school.
Does the badge spotlight students in a negative light? Do they need to wear the badge?
- This question was one of the most frequently asked. The logic behind the badge was a visual representation within our school community that students can wear proudly as an indication of their participation and visible effort to minimise these negative interactions and promote open, positive conversations in and around school. I, myself, have several badges on my lanyard with their purpose being a conversation starter with colleagues and students and it is known within our community that I, along with some others members of staff, are visible members of our staff body who champion the positive interactions. Therefore, the more students wearing this badge, the more positive interactions happening around school. However, the badge is not a mandatory requirement if/ when a student returns a pledge; and in the circumstances where students feel this might ostracise them from their peers or they just don’t want to wear one, we respect this.
What is a bystander?
- The bystander effect is a psychological theory that outlines how an individual is less likely to offer help or support in the presence of other people. Following our research in the autumn term, we discovered that when these negative interactions have taken place in a friendship group, on many occasions, friends of the targeted person didn’t offer support or unite to tell the perpetrator to stop. This is what we mean when we stated in our original letter, that those who stay “silent” or do not support their friend are allowing the perpetrator to continue/ repeat the negative interaction in the future.
How is a bystander determined?
- A bystander is determined as those directly involved in the interaction that took place (as outlined above). Students who are walking by, or in the location as it took place are not bystanders. When an incident has been reported and we investigate, a student who looks to protect their friend (the perpetrator) rather than acknowledging their mistake is then, in that situation, a bystander.
To support our students (and staff) in building their knowledge, offering opportunities to open the conversation and grow in confidence on this subject matter, we will be reviewing our Pastoral Curriculum identifying opportunities for this to happen.
We have launched “The KWS Pledge” with the intention of improving KWS and supporting our young people to be the best they can and most importantly preparing them for life once they have completed their academic career with us. However, whenever legitimate change is trying to be made, there will be bumps along the way; and that is why we are always willing to listen to our staff, students and families with their ideas of what we can do differently / better. We have had some useful discussions with parents already but we would like to broaden that feedback and widen the opportunity to reflect. Therefore, we would like to invite all families who wish to participate, to an evening with myself, Mr Smith and Mr Martin on Monday 6th March at 7.30pm. If you do wish to join us please reach out to myself: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Likewise, if any member of our wider community would like to collaborate with the school on our journey please do not hesitate to contact me (above email), as we always value any additional knowledge and experience.
Wishing you a restful half term,
Associate Assistant Headteacher for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion