25 May – a date to remember

On 25 May 2020 the world was jolted into action as news spread of the murder of George Floyd. A spotlight was shone on racism and demonstrated only too clearly how much more needs to be done, and how much more needs to be learnt. Many within our community were deeply affected by George Floyd’s death and we are committed to ensuring that our pupils feel supported and have a voice, able to discuss these important issues openly. Last year Mrs Woodcock wrote to parents:

“Our school community is based on an ethos of respect and consideration. Black lives matter and there is absolutely no place for racism in our world. Speaking out about racism is key to tackling this and as educators here at Sydenham High we all have a role to play. There is so much more to be done and we are committed to doing more. Our curriculum must be relevant and inclusive. We continue to be taught history but we do not necessarily learn from it and this has to change.”

This year, our pupils led the way by designing a day of reflection on Tuesday 25 May. Our sixth form Diversity & Inclusion Prefects, Mia, Lucy and Khadija, along with year 10 pupils, Temi and Ivanna, prepared an assembly, discussion points for lesson time and a PSHE activity for the whole school to write on colourful handprints, pledging their action towards equality and justice or listing the names of people they wanted to remember, who were wrongfully killed simply because of the colour of their skin. The day began with an assembly from our Head Girls and three year 10 pupils. Tiffany read her own piece of spoken word, which was incredibly moving, and Temi and Ivanna shared their thoughts on the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement and how the school community is working on many things both explicit and behind the scenes, emphasising that we all need to work together moving forward, as well as sharing a film produced by Temi.

Our current Head Girls, Tyla-Rae and Freya, read out a statement which was written this time last year by outgoing Head Girl, Chantelle:

The important thing here is education. We must all make an attempt to understand the institutionalised racism that many of us are blind to. We must continue to learn to love one another. And we must continue to teach this love. Racism isn’t learnt, it’s taught. Let us stand together and unite instead of standing against one another. Be consistent with yourself, read and listen. Do whatever it is you feel will help you to understand the cause, and the fight behind Black Lives Matter. So I ask, what are you going to do to help us progress into a society where everyone is loved and valued as they are?

Dr Waites, our Diversity & Inclusion Lead, shared with the school community the changes that have been made over the past year, including surveys, unconscious bias training and curriculum reviews, but acknowledged that there is always more that can be done.

Read more about our commitment to an inclusive culture here.

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