In order to challenge perspectives, Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls (Habs Girls) has hosted its first virtual conference on diversity and race.
Former pupil Tiwa Adebayo delivered a talk to over 700 staff and students from the independent school on what activism means and how to become an activist.
Adebayo recently organised a letter to the Independent Schools Council, which detailed the experiences of 300 black private school alumni who received racist abuse in education at the hands of both staff and students. The letter calls on schools to diversify their curriculum with books by black authors, and carry out unconscious bias training for pupils and staff.
The conference, named ‘The Time is Now’, was part of a wider initiative at Habs Girls to take a week ‘off timetable’ to deliver a programme of activities that would “inspire” and “enrich” students’ lives.
It covered topics such as systematic racism, activism, climate action, media manipulation, ethics in design, medicine, technology, gender and identity.
Other speakers included: Tobias Garnett, advisor to Labour’s climate change minister; Professor Iyiola Solanke, chair in EU law and social justice at the University of Leeds’ School of Law; and June Angelides, an early stage investor at Samos Investments.
Headmistress of Habs Girls, Rose Hardy, said: “This was an extremely important event for our school and one that was embraced wholeheartedly by all who attended.
“The issues we covered are challenging, contentious and sometimes uncomfortable to hear” – Rose Hardy, headmistress, Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls
“The issues we covered are challenging, contentious and sometimes uncomfortable to hear. But right now the focus has to be around education; the more we become aware of the issues around us and the impact that has on others, the more likely we are to speak up and take steps to actively address them.”
A student in lower six said: “We were extremely privileged to hear from such a wide variety of interesting speakers on so many crucial issues and I certainly feel it inspired me to not only continue to become more aware of these issues, but actively think about what I can to improve the society around me.”
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