Letters from the Headteacher

Black Lives Matter

June 12th 2020

We were all appalled at the events leading up to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. There has been international condemnation of the brutality involved. Many young people have expressed their outrage including some of our students and others who have recently left us. Education plays a key role in developing the understanding and empathy of future generations so that these events do not happen again. There have been calls to ensure our curriculum deals with these issues. Therefore we have taken steps to ensure we include content and experiences for our students that will allow them to grow into sensitive and considerate young people.

Compulsory education in the humanities is contained within the National Curriculum for Key Stage 3. We have also referred to the advice and resources contained in ‘The Black Curriculum’ to evaluate the provision in humanities at Falmouth School. Our history curriculum does include relevant sections.

Our lessons on Black History cover; the Slave Trade, the Empire and growth of industrialisation in Britain. Students learn about the impact this had on Africans; the separation from home, their journey, slave auctions, plantations and their treatment at the hands of slave owners. Students learn from accounts from slaves and about uprisings such as Nat Turners rebellion, to the abolishment of the slave trade both in the UK and USA. The introduction of Jim Crow laws and the horrific treatment of African Americans follows. This study then follows the lives of Black Americans at the start of the 20th Century. We teach about the civil rights movement about key figures such as Rosa Parks; Martin Luther King Jnr and Malcolm X. Many of our students choose to study History to GCSE and A level, where there is more coverage of the issues surrounding both equality and inhumanity.

Other subjects also celebrate diverse cultures, for example; in English, every year group study poetry from other cultures and literature which deals with segregation and exploitation; art lessons cover influential figures like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, President Obama, Malala Yousafzai; in geography students cover Africa where tourism can be a way out of poverty but an erosion of culture; and dance and music lessons study a range of styles from different countries and cultures including the historical context -  from African, Indian-Kathak and American Hip Hop dance styles to jazz, calypso, blues and protest songs of emancipation through reggae.

However we are aware we can add more. We have already identified topics such as Gandhi and Nehru's contribution towards civil rights in India and Black British history of the Twentieth Century focusing on topics such as the Wind Rush generation and their impact socially, economically and culturally on Britain. These would certainly add to students’ appreciation of the issues that surround our multicultural and post-colonial society.

Also a key change for the school next year is the introduction of Character Education lessons. This will allow us to spend more time developing ideas around equality and diversity. Currently PSHE for all years includes sessions which focus on the ‘British Values’ of tolerance, mutual respect, individual liberty, the rule of law and democracy. We also include sessions on many other topics; from Cultural & Linguistic Diversity to Community & Government, and from Refugee Week to Labelling & Stereotyping.

Since September we have focussed on building relationships, both in school and outside. Our Welfare Team are determined that every student is treated fairly and equitably and have organised staff and student led assemblies promoting tolerance and highlighting themes such as hate crime.  Furthermore our work with Restorative Justice has helped to develop an ethos of restorative conversations to manage moments of conflict by promoting the understanding of others’ viewpoint to educate why an action is unkind – not just stating that it is wrong.

I appreciate that this is not the usual article for the newsletter but I hope this shows that we are committed to providing opportunities for Falmouth School students to develop not only compassion and empathy, but also a refusal to accept scenes such as those we saw from Minneapolis that have been widely shown in the media recently.  

Posted at 11:13 on 12th Jun 2020 Back