I wrote the bulk of this a couple of weeks ago, but keep coming back to it…
Right, this one is a tad unusual for me. I’m lifting the lid on an annual event at our school and one that I’m still feeling the positive effects of on the Sunday before returning after the half term break…I know!
When I first came to the school, we had something in February called One World Week, where classes learnt about a different country, their culture and customs, then shared their findings with the school community. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was good, nice to watch, informative and the children largely enjoyed it…but did it have any lasting impact? Hmm…think we all know the answer. Do topics like this always have to have a lasting impact? Well, no…but wouldn’t it be better if they did?
The Head and myself became increasingly aware that there were growing tensions amongst the school community. The demographics were changing, and rapidly. We had new migrant communities changing the dynamics, older established communities were feeling pushed out as their friends’ children were not getting into the school…indeed, one parent went as far as to call it ethnic cleansing. It was patently ludicrous, but was a barometer of the depth of feeling surrounding the issues we were quietly hoping weren’t as bad as a couple of incidents were beginning to suggest it might be…so we talked.
We talked to children, teachers, the governors and to some well established parents. It led to a Unity Group of parents from a wide range of backgrounds being established, which worked with the Head and other key staff to organise events to bring the parents together and to attempt to build bridges and heal some of the rifts. The first year saw improvements, we had a Unity Fortnight where children learnt about communities within the school…it was very successful, with children learning a lot more about their own cultures. Parents were thankful that they were able to engage their children in conversation about their heritage and be proud of it!
This year, we tried something different. Each year group took a personal quality that we felt symbolised the best of humanity, particularly within the remit of us being a church school. ( I know that this may grate with those who have uses with church schools – yes, I am very aware that these values are inculcated and flourish in non faith schools) each class made a 2 minute film about what the values looked like and meant to them…we showed it in Assembly on Friday and will show them to parents this coming week…they are a powerful insight into our children, their potential and what an amazing job we have. I was inspired, moved and overwhelmingly proud of my children and staff. Have a look…Some are incredibly powerful…Unity videos