Equality at CRGS
Posted On: 30/04/21
Developing a culture that opposes any form of discrimination or prejudice
The CRGS staff and governors remain very clear; any act of prejudice or discrimination is unacceptable.
Every act of prejudice, discrimination or abuse reported to the school during my tenure has always been and will always be appropriately investigated with suitable actions taken, following our student, staff and governor Codes of Conduct.
At CRGS we continue to make acts of prejudice, discrimination or abuse socially unacceptable; to create a stronger emphasis on standing up for the victim and a culture of challenging unacceptable acts, such that to be a bystander is considered to be complicit. We recognise the challenges in creating such a culture, and the difficulties related to the range of developmental stages of students from 11 to 18 years of age, who will all have many different external influences and experiences.
We also recognise that our control of events that happen outside of school time is limited, but we hope that the values we promote in school and the messages we give our student and parental body will influence the behaviours and safety of our students at all times.
In line with our responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010, the school has been working on this for a number of years. This document describes some the work carried out to date as well as our current and future aims.
Reporting and complaints
We recognise some of the barriers which deter students from reporting incidents; developing a culture of reporting acts of discrimination, especially microaggressions and acts that are perceived by some as less serious, provides a significant challenge. It requires such acts to be truly socially unacceptable and to move away from the age-old culture of not ‘telling on the bully’ or on those high up in the social hierarchy. We are considering a number of avenues from ‘call-it-out’ software/online forms where students can report specific incidents, as well as an anonymous reporting system to raise our awareness of issues, to a range of senior student listeners who would represent minority groups for those who might find reporting to staff more difficult.
As mentioned, every incident that has been reported to the school has been taken seriously and dealt with through the Code of Conduct (student or staff) as appropriate; meticulous records are kept of such incidents. All Senior Leaders have an open-door policy and there is a robust Concerns and Complaints Procedure, through which any concerns regarding how a complaint or report has been dealt with or any inappropriate actions of staff, can be addressed.
The recent ‘Everyone’s Invited’ and other such anonymous testimonial sites that offer an avenue to call-out acts of prejudice, discrimination or abuse, exist because the voices of victims are not heard through other means. We must create such avenues within CRGS so that these voices can be heard in a safe environment, action taken and support given. I hope that our formal reporting procedures and the new avenues that we are developing, satisfy this need and are effective in helping students challenge poor attitudes and inappropriate acts.
Since arriving at CRGS in 2015, I have been very aware of the many strengths and remarkable attributes of the school, but also wanting to further develop the very positive ethos, with a focus on Equality and respect. Over the past four years we have developed our assembly readings and student presentations, raising awareness of discrimination, celebrating different religions and cultures, and supporting national events such as LGBT+ and Black History months. The formation of the student and staff Equality and Diversity groups has been a great success and has helped us use student voice to update our Equality and Diversity Policy and Targets. Student and staff voices have been central to our work, and the school carries out educational surveys to capture the views of students, parents and staff on a whole range of educational issues every two years, with the opportunity for anonymous free text responses. The outcomes of these surveys have been very positive, with developmental areas fed into our School Improvement Plan. More detail on the work we have been doing and the outside organisations that we have been working with can be found on our website:
Over the past three years we have re-written our PSHE curriculum to reflect modern issues and provide a focus on relationship education. The scheme satisfies the requirements of the 2020 RSE legislation and provides appropriate age-related guidance on a wide range of health, wellbeing and relationship issues. Details of this scheme of work can be found on our website in the Curriculum section. Senior students are currently providing presentations regarding consent (planned some time ago) and throughout this year we have been reviewing our pastoral structure to ensure this provides the best, most supportive experience for our students.
To delve deeper into the experiences of students and gain a greater understanding of any micro-aggressions, the school has planned a series of student voice meetings, followed by staff and student discussions and training. Although this was planned over a year ago it has been delayed by Covid-19. This is designed to raise awareness of any acts of prejudice that students currently experience at CRGS and to work with students on developing improved reporting systems. I have had a very productive meeting with the Afro-Caribbean Society as well as informative meetings with members from a variety of religious backgrounds, and will soon meet with other groups within our school community. We have also carried out recent tutorial work with our students, reviewing our current position on Equality and Diversity and gaining their views on the next steps for us to take. The next stage of this work will be staff discussions on the outcomes and the use of our student body to help re-develop our Code of Conduct, with Equality and respect at its core. It is the student body who have asked for an anonymous route to be added to the changes to our reporting mechanisms, and we will work closely with the students to finalise these systems. We are also planning a parent forum for the Autumn Term to highlight changes that have been made and discuss current issues and future plans.
In response to recent on-line testimonies regarding abuse in many schools we have looked inward to consider our own safeguarding procedures and requested an external safeguarding review. This was carried out by senior safeguarding and education leads within Essex LEA, who have been supporting schools across Essex on this issue. The review was very positive and highlighted many strengths, as well as pointing out where further improvements could be made. I will report the specific outcomes of this to parents and students when the final report has been produced.
To develop the culture that we desire is a long-term project, and with over 200 new students joining the school each year and the wider society providing its own challenges to us, it is work that must be continuous. We are fortunate in that we have a very passionate and able set of staff and students who will be determined to drive this work forward, along with our very supportive Governing Body and parental body, and excellent role models amongst our senior students, who are able to guide and influence the younger students who join the school.
We are extremely proud of our multicultural and diverse school community, and the celebration of the individual that lies at the core of our ethos. We recognise, however, that there will always be more work to be done to improve the experience and the development of the young people with whom we work. By listening to and learning from them, together we will ensure that CRGS is a community where people feel safe, valued and able to be their authentic selves, free from all forms of discrimination.