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News > 140th Anniversary > Cultural enrichment and Black Lives Matter movement discussed at school meeting

Cultural enrichment and Black Lives Matter movement discussed at school meeting

Staff, pupils, parents and alumnae joined an Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Zoom Meeting hosted by Headmaster, Charles Fillingham, on Wednesday 24th June
The evening meeting provided the opportunity for staff to listen openly to the experiences of BAME parents, sixth formers and alumnae including Rosemary Mackey (Class of 1958), Sarah Kehoe (Class of 2015), Srutti Suresan (Class of 2014), Arisa Loomba (Class of 2016) and Frances Baawuah (Class of 1998) and discuss views and opinions about the school in relation to culture and diversity.

A number of points were discussed in the meeting, from the positive influence of black role models who can act as advocates for pupils and the importance of listening and engaging girls so that they can gain a deeper understanding of society and assess our history more critically. Pupils spoke of how much they felt they would benefit from a greater understanding of our colonial past. BAME alumnae recalled positive experiences at FHS, where they were never made to feel ‘different’ – but they felt that the school could do more to help prepare girls better for life beyond FHS, where the world is not so protective - or utopian.

Alumna Rosemary Mackey, who lives in Georgia, U.S, spoke of how education has changed since her time at FHS, when only 4 girls went on to university and how much her residing country needs to change in order to unpick 250 years of engrained history, in particular with regard to slavery and segregation.

Empowering pupils to be critical thinkers without defaulting to their own perspective was identified as key to instigate change.

Alumna Frances Baawuah, who was the school’s first black Head Girl, described how she had an amazing experience at Francis Holland. However on reflection, she felt there was little opportunity to celebrate her own, or anyone's, cultural heritage or diversity during her time at Francis Holland, which she would have benefited from.

Unconscious biases are deeply ingrained: all areas of the curriculum, it was suggested, need to be diversified.

Many shared the opinion that the school should take advantage of the diverse and rich cultures to be celebrated. It was agreed that we should all work together to understand the complexities of Black Lives Matter. Many more conversations, however complex and uncomfortable, need to take place so that we can ensure that all are included.

Following the meeting, Mr Fillingham set out the subsequent plan: “We will begin to work on the next steps around celebrating and recognising both the Black Lives Matter movement and the diversity and inclusivity efforts in school. Support for the school is greatly appreciated and these topics will not be overlooked nor side-lined. During the Autumn Term, we will write to the whole community with an outline of planned actions and developments.”

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