By Abi Wharton, Head of Global Awareness and Inclusion Working Group Lead
In recent weeks, I have been asked – and asked myself – some deeply uncomfortable questions around the issues of diversity and inclusion within our school and society at large. However, I am learning to embrace the opportunity to feel uncomfortable as it is the only way we will be able to move forward and address the issues confronting us all. We are all aware that the past few months have been a period of seismic reckoning in relation to both equality and representation.
Many Independent Schools Council (ISC) schools were called out, quite rightly, by current students and alumni, in the wake of the death of George Floyd and the ensuing Black Lives Matter movement. Bedales is not alone in grappling with what this means in the long term for how we address these encompassing issues and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to work with colleagues on a micro and macro scale to understand how we all can contribute to calling out systemic inequalities within our society.
Crucially, we must be committed to sustained change with a clear understanding of what our aims and values are. This involves open and honest conversations with all members of our community about where we currently sit and clear clarification of our aims. We need to work both genuinely and collaboratively to understand where conscious and unconscious bias exists and ensure that we are accountable with a commitment to consistently engage in challenging conversations. This will lead us in our goal to develop a positive and inclusive culture open to different ways of working.
Therefore, our actions must match our words and impact must be embedded into the culture of Bedales. Our approach cannot be generalised, hence why I am spending time on understanding what our starting point is. This relates back to asking these uncomfortable questions so we can actively measure our progress. Our intention is to ‘pulse-check’ on a regular basis which involves asking our parents, students, alumni and teachers how we are doing and asking you all to feed in to the progress we are making in creating harmony in uniqueness. As ever, please do get in touch with me if you would like to join this conversation.
One immediate initiative in developing this conversation is ‘We all have relevant things to say’.