The UK is a multicultural place, which means that children often have exposure to a wealth of diverse and cultural backgrounds before they even reach the classroom .At Bleak Hill, we celebrate diversity through our lessons, assemblies, events and day-to-day interactions. We promote tolerance and understanding as well as respect for all. We embrace diversity by ensuring all pupils develop an understanding and appreciation of cultures and beliefs different to their own. We want to instil these values in our pupils, encouraging them to be engaged in issues surrounding race, gender and other aspects of cultural diversity.
How do we do this at Bleak Hill?
There can be no substitute for actually engaging in contact with people who are different to us. Day-to-day cooperative learning activities in lessons to support this. Inviting visitors into school and paying visits as a class also provide opportunities for contact.
Learning about difference
Subjects such as religious education and history, where the teacher has the necessary subject expertise, can increase pupils’ religious and cultural literacy. In geography or history, pupils might research and read about different cultures or migration, sharing stories from their family or ethnic group where appropriate. In English or drama, pupils might develop stories, poems or plays that are prompted by pictures, storybooks, songs, literature, films and videos that consider differences.
Teachers include counter-stereotypical examples in lessons in order to challenge group-based stereotypes. For example, when setting problems in maths or science, teachers will refer to a range of scientists or significant individuals from a range of cultures. Evidence suggests that learning to challenge stereotypes in one significant domain (e.g., gender) can also translate to others (e.g., race or religion). Every term, we celebrate a ‘Significant Individual’ in each year group, which challenges stereotypes. This overview of significant individuals covers ‘Cool Creators’, ‘Super Scientists’ and ‘Exciting Explorers and Freedom Fighters’.
Supporting pupils to consider what it is like to stand in someone else’s shoes encourages empathy, another important component in promoting community relations. For example, students might role-play the character of a historical figure who experienced discrimination, such as Nelson Mandela or Malala Yousafzai. Pupils can engage in interviewing techniques or write about how it might have felt to be that person.
Embracing and celebrating group difference is much better for pupils than ignoring it. For example, trying different kinds of food together, or marking festivals as a class or school. There are chances to focus in depth on celebrations of cultural difference, while all teachers can celebrate cultural diversity through wall displays, using books and moving images. Although particular subjects might be well placed to promote positive community relations, a whole school effort is needed if we are to truly build a cohesive society. We follow the JIGSAW scheme for PSHE, and one of the 'Pieces of the JIGSAW' is 'Celebrating Difference', this gives the children a chance to explore different cultures and how it is beneficial to have a multicultural society.