“We cannot close our eyes to any form of racism or exclusion, while pretending to defend the sacredness of every human life.”Pope Francis
To continue to actively promote a whole-school culture in relation to racial equality in which commonalities are identified and celebrated, difference is valued and nurtured and pupils are encouraged to be agents for change.
On Monday 12th April 2021 we held a whole-staff Inset focused on racism (especially anti-Black racism), diversity and how we can become an actively anti-racist school. This will be followed up with similar sessions for pupils and parents. Our work on this SDP focus is ongoing and will form a School Priority for 2021-2022. As a Leadership, we are committed to making St Catherine’s an actively anti-racist community.
The 1st of October is the start of Black History Month. Black History Month is a time where we traditionally celebrate the achievements of Black People throughout History, as well as today.
At St Catherine’s we don’t like the idea of Black History Month. Not because we don’t care about the History of Black People, but because it doesn’t seem right we dedicate one month to Black History, and the rest of the year just forget about it a focus on White History and the achievements of White People.
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need a Black History Month. Every Month would be Black History Month. We want our school to be a place where we celebrate Black History all the time. However, sadly, in the past as a society, we often haven’t recognised the accomplishments of Black People in every area of endeavour throughout our history.
We have embraced the theme of this year’s Black History Month, ‘Proud to Be’ and are highlighting to our children why Black people should be rightly proud to be Black. Over the upcoming weeks (into November), we will be learning about significant Black figures in world history; the contributions of Black Britons to making our country great; and modern, inspirational Black Britons. We will also take the opportunity to celebrate Black culture through music, poetry, literature and art. We will be learning about key historical figures (often previously overlooked), but we also want the children to be inspired by young Black people who are making their mark on the world today, such as Marcus Rashford, Kadeena Cox and Stormzy.
This year we have mapped our whole curriculum to ensure that the contributions and achievements of Black people are embedded within our day-to-day teaching. We have also tried to make our curriculum as diverse as possible, to recognise that we are part of a Global community. We are trying to create a ‘culture of encounter (Fratelli Tutti) – this means that we approach, speak, listen and come to know and understand one another, in all our diversity. The results of this can be seen in the amazing work of our pupils.
As Catholics, we cannot fool ourselves into thinking we are ‘colour-blind’ or that racism doesn’t exist in our schools and communities.
If we are a global church, and if we are God’s children, and if each one of us, together, comprise the body of Christ, then we must admit that our body is broken. Our body is bloodied. Our body is being murdered.
All lives cannot matter if Black lives do not matter. As Catholics, we cannot look away.
What is the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement?
The movement seeks to “eradicate white supremacy, stop violence inflicted on Black communities, and create a safe space for Black communities, imagination, and innovation.” It speaks out against police brutality and lack of accountability, not solely with regard to George Floyd, but also Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the thousands of victims wrongly treated by the police. Whilst it is not a new movement, its message is central to the present anti-racist movement. The statement “Black Lives Matter” refers to a Twitter hashtag, an anthem, a slogan, a social movement, or movements and groupings for racial justice. It has grown to become a global movement – an international human rights movement – to combat racism in modern-day society.
We have all been appalled by the treatment of George Floyd and others in America and now is the time to speak up.
Nelson Mandela said ‘Education is the most powerful tool you can use to change the world.’. We know it is our responsibility and we are listening. A change is going to come.
We want our children to be agents for change: to set the world on fire. It is not enough to ensure we are an inclusive school, at St Catherine’s we strive to be an actively anti-racist community.
We want to develop a culture:
Please see this letter from the Bishops of the Archdiocese of Southwark on there being ‘No place for racism’.
We will seek to educate our pupils and ourselves about the 13 principles of the Black Lives Matter movement.
As a Leadership Team responding to the Black Lives Matter movement is a key School Development Plan area for 2020-21 onward. We have formed a Working Party with members of our school community to look at how we can best do this.
Our first action has been to audit our school library and create a ‘wish list’ of books addressing BAME issues, celebrating the achievements of people of colour, featuring characters from a wide range of ethnicities and promoting diversity in all its forms.
Thank you to all those families who have donated books! To contribute to our library, please look at our Wish List.