Discussions on diversity

By Theo Paul, 6.2

Bedales is, and has always been, a school which believes in equality, diverse thought and inclusion. This was once again epitomised in the dialogue created during Garrett Day. Throughout the day, sessions such as Generational perspectives of race, Anti-racism: how to be an ally, White privilege -White fragility and Unconscious bias: how can we make Bedales more inclusive? enabled Bedalians of all backgrounds, life experiences and year groups to converse and learn about topics that affect everyone’s everyday life through conscious and unconscious bias. Each session offered a unique insight into the challenges people face due to race, gender and class.

Sessions 1 and 2 focused on generational perspectives of race and were run by Lele, Serati and Olivia Jones. Lele, Serati and Olivia gave fascinating insight into the challenges and discrimination people of colour still face to this day. The conversation was centred on the discrimination and racism that Lele, Serati and Olivia have faced, in Lele’s case especially during Apartheid in South Africa, and the racism that continues to plague the UK and the world as a whole. A key point raised was that racism isn’t always obvious. Racism is institutionalised and can be seen through subtle gestures or the tone in which a person is talked to.

Sessions 3 and 4 were held by Old Bedalian Lulu McConville. The sessions on Anti-racism: how to be an ally and White privilege – White fragility were engaging and interactive. This allowed for a great participation from all whom attended the sessions. The session on Anti-racism: how to be an ally included students defining what racism is and how to intervene when a person is being racially abused. In addition, the session on White privilege and White fragility enabled white students to realise their privileges and inherent advantages they have in life due to their skin colour, whilst also seeing the role white fragility plays in upholding white privilege and stopping further education on the topic.

Session 5, led by Jo Mayhook-Walker and Gordon Dale, focused on the severity of unconscious bias and how we can make Bedales more inclusive. The consensus was that the first step in dealing with unconscious bias is being aware of it, as this will help you understand why you are behaving in certain ways towards people. Furthermore, ways in which Bedales could be more inclusive that were discussed ranged from more representation for international boarders to a way of making it possible for more disadvantaged people to come to the school.

The afforementioned sessions on diversity, organised by Abi Wharton, Head of Global Awareness, enabled us to better understand the difficulties people face due to all forms of discrimination. Moreover, it raised much needed awareness and educated students and staff on how, where and why discrimination happens and how to stop it when possible.

Global Awareness social entrepreneurs continue to make a change

By Abi Wharton, Head of Global Awareness

Block 5 Global Awareness students have continued to practice the art of social innovation whilst learning remotely, utilising even more their skills in campaigning, particularly through social media and internet resources.

Ava Sender Logan has been motivated by the very current topic of food poverty. Ava said: “This lockdown, we have been working on campaigning in Global Awareness. During this project I was interested in the topic of food poverty. For my project, I self-published a book to Amazon; 30 Bites on a Budget. In this book you will find my illustrations, a QR code to a video I have made about food poverty, a poem I have written and 30 meals to make on a budget. The idea behind this is was linked to the new school meals policy where school lunches are no longer free in the UK. I have made 30 lunch ideas which will feed a family of four. These meals cost between £1-2 per person. The book contains a month’s worth of cheap lunches. All profits from this book go to my local food bank. So far, we have raised £80. Please check my book out here.”

Kam Nelson-Clayton and Fifi Phillips began their research investigating period poverty in the UK, a very real issue at the moment, developing their understanding of sustainable period products and the importance of these being more widely available in schools. This led to a business relationship developing with a social enterprise providing sustainable products around the world, with a focus on supporting schools to provide free sanitary products to their students. Kam and Fifi have written a developed business plan and presented this at Bedales, proposing a partnership with Bohunt. This has gained traction and we are hoping that these products will be available in bathrooms around the school and the boarding houses before too long.

Millie Kennedy has been researching far right radicalisation – what causes it, how it happens, how to prevent it, and how to help those affected. Recently, and particularly after the capitol riots in Washington, we have all been on alert to the rise in far-right movements. Milly says: “I wanted to understand why this has come about and how to prevent it from happening in the future. After my research, I came to conclusions about what I could do.  I will be working with the well-being department to add to the curriculum – e.g. how to spot dangerous material online. I have also been in contact with Damian Hinds, MP for East Hampshire, asking what the government is doing about the growing threat, and I will be working with Block 2 pupils at Dunhurst, teaching a lesson on what to look out for on social media and online, to hopefully spread awareness amongst the most vulnerable age group.”

Skylar Cazac has been looking at how to encourage the roll-out of microgrids for rural electrification in South Asia and Africa. Skylar says: “Approximately 13 percent of the world’s population currently live without reliable electricity supplies, and are mainly situated in rural areas of South Asia and Africa. Often, these people have to make do with old diesel generators that are expensive, highly polluting and at times very dangerous. With the rapid decrease in the cost solar and wind power plants and the roll-out of energy storage solutions, renewable energy powered microgrids can provide an excellent climate friendly leapfrog alternative, to enable mass rural electrification. This said, these systems can still be expensive to set up due to technology being used. I have been researching hybrid financing solutions to enable a mass introduction of these systems into areas in need as an important tool in the energy transition. The type of systems that I envisage would combine three strategies to raise equity in order to sponsor and foster the rapid development of microgrids: 1) charitable crowdfunding schemes; 2) a “carbon trading” platform, to raise capital from Western companies that wish to offset their CO2 emissions by financing renewable energy production in developing countries; 3) microgrid finance schemes for the villagers who would benefit from green electricity provided by the highly subsidised microgrids. I would like to collaborate with impact focused financial investors to achieve scale in this project.”

Global Perspectives take centre stage

By Abi Wharton, Head of Global Awareness

What a year to introduce the Pre-U in Global Perspectives and Research to Bedales! This is a course that allows students to explore any global issue using what is termed as the critical path – deconstruction, reconstruction, reflection and communication of any particular perspective.

Over the past year, we have explored topics as wide ranging as ownership of the Elgin marbles to the perceived role of the US as a global policeman. We allow our own views, or reconstruction of an argument, to be built on other perspectives, understanding the need to explore a whole raft of ideas influenced by cultural, economic, religious and ethical concerns to name but a view. The students have communicated their ideas in exciting and innovative ways, being at the forefront of remote learning by giving their assessed presentations on Microsoft Teams before the Easter holidays.

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‘Unforgettable’ Global Awareness trip to India

Global-Awareness-India

By Georgie du Boulay, Block 5

The 10-day Global Awareness trip to India at half term was one that will stay with the 17 students and three teachers who attended for the rest of their lives.

For the first three days, we were immersed in the dusty air and sun-baked atmosphere of Delhi sightseeing, which was jaw-dropping itself – yet nothing could compare to the timeless and unforgettable experience we had in McLeod Ganj, a suburb of Dharamsahla in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India. It was a brilliant introduction to volunteering! From the mass clean-up of the streets, to the eye-opening mutual learning with the Tibetan Refugees programme, each day was full of exciting activities that we had never done before.

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