Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
We are committed to actively engaging with issues of inequality in all its forms in order to shape our school ethos and culture and ensure all of our students go out into the world and thrive in a multi-cultural and progressive society.
Downend sits approximately 3 miles from Bristol, a city with marked inequality and a very specific legacy of both colonialism and activism. Whilst our local history is beyond the school’s control, we can take responsibility to tackle internal factors that may be contributing to further inequality.
Downend School prides itself on being an inclusive, happy school. A visitor from the Department of Education noted its “tangible harmony” and Ofsted commented that students were “polite and had positive attitudes towards their learning”. However, it is absolutely vital that we pay close attention to the needs of all our students, staff and parents so that our stance is actively anti-discrimination.
This work began explicitly in 2019 with an in-depth piece of student voice with our students of colour, which saw students ask for an improved understanding of the language of race, more opportunities to celebrate culture and a more consistent approach to challenging discriminatory behaviour. This was shared with staff in whole-school training in February 2020.
Shortly after this student voice, the whole country went into lockdown. A working group was set up during this time, which identified the following key areas of focus. Please click on the boxes for further detail of the work we have been doing in each area:
We know we have made some real progress in some areas as a result of this focus, but we also know this continues to be a work in progress. We do not always get it right, but we are here to listen and we are willing to learn.
Downend’s diversity, whether visible or invisible, is our greatest gift.
The Equalities Act, 2010 names nine “Protected Characteristics”, which are listed below. Our Downend community is made up of students, staff and parents from different groups within each of these broad categories:
- Gender Reassignment
- Marriage and Civil Partnership
- Pregnancy and Maternity
- Religion and Belief
- Sexual Orientation
In order to achieve our aim, which is to create a sense of belonging for every single member of our community, we need to actively nurture that community. The links above give further detail on some of the ways we do this, but other examples are listed below:
- The continued facilitation of a thriving LGBTQ+ group.
- A group of staff advocates, some of whom hold a protected characteristic and are happy to talk to students.
- A uniform policy that includes clothing and accessories related to specific cultures or beliefs.
- A pledge to uphold The Halo Code, which can be found on page of 5 of this booklet: https://www.downend.com/docs/Copy_of_Downend_Uniform_Booklet_11.pdf
- A room in the school is available for Muslim students to pray, including Friday prayer, as well as facilities for Wudhu.
We also encourage students, staff and parents to contribute positively to our community. We know we have a huge amount of lived experience and expertise in students, staff and parents and we champion the idea of being a good ancestor in order to leave Downend School in a better place than we find it.
As a parent, the most important piece of work you can do is to talk to your children about issues of social justice and equality. But if you are interested in contributing further to the school’s work, then please email the admin mailbox on email@example.com
Our values are a set of principles that guide our behaviour. The Downend Values can be found here. Our work on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion sits firmly within our core values and behaviours. Some ideas about how we can demonstrate these values in the context of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion follow,
Participation: We encourage students to use their voices in order to make a positive difference and be active change-makers in our school. This may include participation in formal and informal student voice activities, by approaching members of staff with ideas or suggestions, stepping in and reporting any unkindness that they witness or by joining clubs and committees. At key points in the year, such as Black History Month or Ramadan, students can lead assemblies and staff briefing or take part in a variety of activities on offer.
Respect: At the very least, we demand respect towards each other, will not tolerate discrimination and aim to challenge every incident. This includes stepping in and reporting any unkindness that is witnessed. In addition, we encourage all our students to increase their knowledge and understanding of different cultures, beliefs and ideas. At Downend, we know our diversity is our greatest gift and understand that the more we know about one another, the more we are able to recognise biases, embrace differences and co-exist harmoniously.
Identity: At Downend we want everyone to bring their whole selves to school. This includes wearing the correct uniform in order to show your belonging to our school and House, but this may also include joining clubs and groups, sharing your opinions in class and taking advantage of opportunities in and out of class to learn about different cultures, time periods and traditions.
Determination: We ask that students, staff and parents recognise that leading change requires determination and, for some, may involve planting a tree, under whose shade they will never get to sit. Through our shared determination we hope to learn about diverse backgrounds, identities and abilities and break through preconceived notions, biases and societal stereotypes. We want everyone to actively listen and engage with each other creating an open minded space where individuals feel respected, valued, and empowered.
Excellence: We ask that our students are intellectually curious about all people, places and cultures. We have so much to learn from each other and genuinely engaging in Religious Studies, in Modern Foreign Languages, in History and, in fact, in all subjects allows us to learn and grow. The more we know about one another, the more we are able to recognise biases, embrace differences and co-exist harmoniously.