Black Lives Matter

Headmaster Dr Savage recently wrote to the wider Alleyn's community, parents and alumni, addressing the recent tragic death of George Floyd.

His letter, sent during a week that saw Black Lives Matter demonstrations spread around the world, is reproduced in full, below:

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Dear Parents

I am writing to you in response to this week’s shocking events in America and the global reaction to them. Please do share this message with your children, some of whom have written to me directly about what has happened.

As a community, we have been shocked and appalled to witness the death of George Floyd in America, and incredibly moved to see the resulting Black Lives Matter protests spread around the world.

George Floyd mattered. Challenging racism matters.  

As a School, we are committed to diversity and to equality. However, we understand that it is insufficient simply to say that we are against racism. Rather, we need to work collectively to identify, acknowledge and eradicate racism wherever we may encounter it.

In light of current events, we have been engaged with conversations across our community, and many pupils, parents and alumni have been in touch with us to share their thoughts, views and experiences. It is inspiring to see how motivated our pupils are about this topic. 

We value all of these reflections. The issues that they raise and the experiences that they share are incredibly significant to society as a whole, and the Alleyn’s community – embracing our Governing Board, our staff body, current and former pupils, friends and parents – is no exception. 

You may already be aware that we have established a diversity working group with representatives from across our community, led by Senior Deputy Head, Andy Skinnard and Assistant Head, Stuart Turner, in order to explore these important issues in greater detail.  

We also benefit from the input of our engaged Minority Student Union that is doing great work among our pupil body, as well as the wise counsel of a Diversity & Equality Committee that comprises a broad cross-section of our staff.  Our diversity calendar is another small but significant addition, and we are also pleased to be one of the founding members of the Schools’ Inclusion Alliance which is a group that has been established to share best practice around inclusion and promoting diversity in our communities. 

It has been wonderful to see a number of positive and forward-looking initiatives coming out of these groups, including an all-staff CPD day on issues around unconscious bias that took place earlier this year, and an amazing morning of talks on de-colonising the curriculum (there are already plans underway to include cultural identify and awareness into the Core/Critical Thinking course for Year 12 next year). In this light, you may also be interested to read about the efforts of Matilda Marcus (Year 13), who was due to speak at the SIA Conference ‘Unlocking the Power of the Human’ in mid-March about her work with ‘Fill in the Blanks’ that was publicised here in the Guardian in January.

Just this morning, Tulley’s House, courtesy of House Captain Miranda in Year 13 and supported by Housemaster Jude Fitzgerald, shared a powerful assembly on Black Lives Matter which I was pleased to sit in on. If possible, we shall share the accompanying PowerPoint presentation, which includes suggested resources for further reading and action, via the Hub in the days ahead. 

Our librarian, Esther O’Donnell, has also compiled a suggested reading list, Fighting Racism and Celebrating Black Authors, that pupils can access via the library blog section of the Hub.

Pupils in Years 9 to 13 will shortly be invited to a Foundation Schools Black Lives Matter Webinar, due to take place on Tuesday afternoon. Mr Turner is sending an AP on this to those years later today. 

I feel we have made progress on the issue of diversity, inclusion and difference at Alleyn’s in recent years. But there is so much more for all of us to do, and many sensitive conversations to be had as to how we can best address the perennial issues that have been exposed so brutally by the death of George Floyd on 25 May. We know these conversations have to continue, and to continue more regularly and more centrally, in the regular discourse of the School community. 

As a School, we respect the views and experiences of everyone in our community, and we are always open and willing to benefit from different perspectives. We would therefore be delighted to have a conversation with any of you who might be interested in helping us, sincerely, to do better.

With best wishes

Gary Savage

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