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.

Garrett Day celebrations

On Wednesday, staff and students came together for the inaugural Garrett Day. As Badley Day and Powell Day do, Garrett Day gave us a valuable opportunity to work together in a ‘whole school effort’, practising the school motto – ‘Work of Each for Weal of All’ – while working on a range of projects to improve the outdoor environment at Bedales and beyond.
 
This year’s projects saw Outdoor Work BAC students dismantle an old chicken hut in preparation for replacing it with a new timber framed building as part of their BAC and timber framing enrichment next year, while others dug foundations for a field shelter on the field by the Roman Road. As well as litter-picking, baking, wool sorting and weeding ten wheelbarrows worth of thistles in the meadow between ODW and Art & Design, students volunteered at Steep Primary, where they moved an existing chicken coop, re-fixed four existing fence posts and installed six new ones, installed approximately 20 metres of chicken wire, and built and provided a gate.

Block 5 student Raph, who volunteered at Steep Primary, said: “We spent our time digging and placing posts, followed by lining the perimeterwith chicken wire and creating some doors as a way in and out. It was an enjoyable and rewading day, and worth the effort we put in.”

Global Awareness sessions sparked enlightening discussions on diversity (read more about the sessions below), while the Parents’ Day Exhibition began to take shape in the Art & Design Building, rehearsals for the Summer Production and Parents’ Day Concert were in full swing in the Theatre and Lupton Hall, enthusiastic games of Flag Football were played out on the Steephurst pitches, and students practised their calligraphy skills in the Memorial Library and visited Dunannie to read to our youngest pupils.

Block 5 student Ava said: “On Monday I took part in Garrett Day, starting in a ‘whole school effort’, litter-picking around the campus. The weather wasn’t great so I was kitted out with wellies and waterproofs. Later, I dug the foundations for the field shelter with Clive and Al. It was a good hands-on project, and I enjoyed getting messy in the mud. After lunch, we watched the Head Student Team’s Assembly, where we voted for next year’s Head Student Team. I then went to play Flag Football on Steephurst pitches – this was great fun and enabled me to play sport with other year groups and get to know them better. Finally, I went to paint the Pavilion and did some pond clearing on Boys’ Flat. Garrett Day was a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the campus and work together outside timetabled lessons.”