Since the murder of George Floyd, the issue of race has been a potent presence in society. Communities who have suffered its effects have been emboldened to speak out. This offers us, at the Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools, a clear moment to hear the stories, make clear our stance against racism in any form, and take up our place in creating change.
Racism is abhorrent in any community and utterly unwanted within our schools and we are clear that we want to protect all the characteristics of diversity as set out under the Equality Act 2010 and as recorded in our Equal Opportunities Policy. Every member of our community must feel safe and enjoy all the opportunities that our schools offer. We recognise that whilst former students from ethnic minorities and diverse backgrounds will have benefited from being at Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools, they may also simultaneously have experienced prejudice. We are working to address issues of racism – both overt and covert – based on the recommendations provided by alumni from those communities and we would like to thank them for coming forward with their stories. We are proud of these alumni who, as members of our lifelong community, contacted us in June 2020 and who have since spoken to us about their experiences; they have acted with courage and dignity in making it clear that we should reflect on this important issue. We are focused on trying to eradicate all forms of prejudice within our community.
Our schools value a diverse and inclusive community and we support students from all over the world into our boarding community where we uphold the obligations outlined in the National Minimum Standards for boarding which include the need to take account of sensitivities to the different needs of boarders and the steps taken to ensure that no minority groups are excluded (Standard 18). We support the framework and toolkit outlined in the Boarding Schools’ Association work on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (boarding.org.uk). It is not only morally right but is reflective of our changing wider society: such communities produce better learning and more curious, kind and resilient adults who can make important contributions to society. Such schools will attract the best people and more accurately reflect the world in which we want to live and for which we prepare our students.
At Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools, we uphold and believe in the values of diversity and inclusion. However, we recognise that we need to reflect on further cultural change and focused actions in our schools. We are listening to our students, parents and alumni with open hearts and minds. We will plan for our students from ethnic minorities to have access to role models throughout their school experience and we will consider how to reflect this diversity in our imagery. We are undertaking a review of practice and curriculum to celebrate the substantial contribution of different cultures to the world that we live in.
In spite of our location and resultant demographic, we will seek to ensure our best efforts in staff recruitment to achieve greater diversity, accurately reflecting society at large. We will develop the training of our staff, so that understanding of diversity and inclusion is instinctive and robust. We will review our governance to try to ensure that the voices of our students, past and present, from a broad range of ethnicities, parents, teachers and staff are properly heard. In doing so, we hope that any negative experiences, some of which have been distressing, will not be replicated within our present student body, or in the future.
As a society, the UK continues to hear, face, and tackle its complex past and its issues of prejudice, both racial and non-racial. We recognise this is an ongoing discussion and process where much work still needs to be done. We are faced with an opportunity to make a change; to make a positive difference and we are committed to the task.