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Newsletter Introduction

On 12th June 2020 we published a special edition of our weekly newsletter dedicated to BLACK LIVES MATTER. 

We were all shocked and challenged by the murder of George Floyd. The subsequent worldwide protests to demand equality and justice for black people around the world have ensured that each one of us has looked anew at racial prejudice in our own communities. There has never been a better time for us to stand together and tackle injustice in all its forms.

It has been so frustrating in the current lockdown that we have not been able to discuss and debate with our students in person, face to face with your energy and passion. Instead, I have been struck and often moved by the articulate and powerful responses that many of you, students both past and present, as well as parents and teachers, have expressed to me in emails and letters. Without exception, these responses express a determination to make the world a better place, through permanent change, starting with our shared context, our school life.

The media will focus elsewhere in time but I want this newsletter to help us to reflect on our personal responses, perhaps our unconscious bias, and help us to commit to a much longer-term collective resolve to eradicate racism in all its forms from our school community. It is through education that lasting change will be achieved, and that includes my education and our own staff training. This newsletter marks our first step.

This edition includes powerful personal experiences and thoughtful perspectives as well as information and resources to help us to educate ourselves. And it includes our aspirations as a school: The article - ‘Black Lives Matter - a movement, not a moment’ - provides some detail about what we are setting out to achieve, together, as a school community; I am delighted that Ms Fuwa, Mrs Moore and Miss Contini, have been so active and insightful in setting out a clear vision for us to follow - I am deeply indebted to them.

We are a richly diverse community, which helps to power some of the clubs and societies we have, sometimes started by students, such as the Afro-Caribbean Society.  You may be interested in the infographic showing the current ethnic profile of our students. It feels all the more shocking to reflect that, not so many years ago, the headquarters of the BNP were just up the road on Upper Wickham Lane here in Welling. Read Mrs Moore’s moving reflection on her childhood which puts this in a personal context.

I am proud of our vibrant school community, our thriving extra-curricular life (in non-Covid-19 times) and the strong relationships between staff and students that are the strongest evidence of our success as a school. It therefore hurts all the more to hear that some students have experienced racism in our community; I am determined to eliminate such experiences to ensure that every student at BGS is equally respected and valued.

Finally, we are proud of our IB curriculum, with its outward, international focus. We are proud to be developing compassionate leaders based on our ethos of intellect, empathy and courage, an ethos that is rooted in the elements of the IB learner profile. But we recognise that we need to carry out a review of our curriculum - we have started a systematic audit for that review. We are committing to long-term solutions that will stand the test of time.

Mr Elphick