Black Lives Matter – what Millthorpe School says

Black Lives Matter

One of our core values at Millthorpe is that all of us have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. All of us try to live up to that value every day, so when we see things such as George Floyd dying in the most horrific circumstances, and we remember the countless other black lives lost senselessly, it makes us sad, angry, and full of despair.  We understand the strong emotions we have seen in the protests globally – however we want to act for change through education rather than politics – it is where our power as educators lies.

We are proud that we try to champion those who are not treated with dignity or respect in our country, our society and our community. For example, we know our work to support LGBTQ students and our work on Holocaust education has had impact. We also recognise that for our black and other ethnic minority students and their families, there is much more that we can do.

We are sending a message to all our black and minority ethnic staff, students and their families, that they deserve dignity, respect and equal opportunity in Millthorpe School, in our community and in our country.

We are very aware that like York as a city, we are a school which is overwhelmingly white, in which our curriculum falls far short of acknowledging the rich history and heritage of black and ethnic minority people. For a number of years we have covered aspects of black history within our curriculum, and we currently teach about the American Civil Rights movement including the KKK, Emmett Till, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. We link this to racism in Britain including work about Stephen Lawrence and the disproportionate use of exclusion and imprisonment for black Britons. When the GCSE English specification changed, we lost the study of literature from diverse cultures but we are adding multi-cultural poetry and prose back into the KS3 curriculum from September 2020. We have given assemblies to celebrate Black History month. While this is a start, it doesn’t do justice to the richness of Black history and culture globally, nor does it speak strongly enough about the experience of BAME people in the United Kingdom.

We also know that casual racism is sadly a part of daily life for many black people and is often hard for those on the receiving end to speak up about. As a school community, we need to become better at not just dealing with racist incidents as they occur, but at stamping out the root causes of racism, which we will do with the help of our students, who overwhelmingly support this aim including many who are passionate about it. We must give more confidence to both our BAME and our white students to call out racism whenever they encounter it.

We are currently grappling with the wider opening of school for Year 10 students and with early planning for September, but the senior leaders within Millthorpe yesterday agreed that we cannot let another black death, and the protests arising from it around the world and in our own city go unmarked.

We promise to act.

We will:

  • review the experience of our black and minority ethnic staff, students and families;
  • look at our curriculum, especially in history, English and personal and social education to see how we can better recognise the culture, heritage and pride of BAME people;
  • review how we can make our pastoral system even more effective at dealing with casual racism so that we can stamp it out;
  • make a commitment to celebrating Black History month each year;
  • do all this jointly with BAME staff, students and parents, inviting them to guide us so that we can make their experience free of casual racism.

We are proud that the overwhelming majority of our school community believes that there is no place for racism here, but we promise to keep working until there is none within our school, our BAME students feel safe and our white students understand at least in part why and how racism destroys lives.

Black Lives Matter.

The Senior Leadership Team, Millthorpe School