Diversity forum helps shape Woldingham’s future direction

Diversity forum helps shape Woldingham’s future direction

A discussion forum held on Tuesday 23 June 2020 agreed outline plans to ensure Woldingham School is inclusive, recognises and celebrates diversity, is actively anti-racist and is welcoming to all members of our community. The Forum comprised Woldingham’s current Head Girl Team, six recent Head Girls and Deputy Head Girls representing our body of alumnae, and four senior staff.

The forum was set up following the joint statement issued on 8 June confirming Woldingham’s support for a diverse and inclusive community and reiterating the school’s commitment to anti-racism, diversity and inclusion.

The forum agreed an outline plan for the coming years, which will be developed into a clear and accountable set of actions. The plan includes:

  • Additional training and awareness for staff and students, including listening and learning from the experience of BAME students, staff and alumnae
  • An ongoing curriculum review
  • A thorough exploration of how we recruit and retain a body of staff which better reflects our community
  • A review of policies, guidelines and procedures to ensure they meet the school’s current and future approach to anti-racism, diversity and inclusion
  • The appointment of members of the Board of Governors to be responsible for diversity and inclusion
  • The additional analysis of key data to understand trends and highlight any unconscious bias in practice.

Mrs Alex Hutchinson, Headmistress, said:

 ‘It was a privilege to host our discussion forum and to share the experiences and insight of this impressive group of student leaders. It is so important that our listening and learning continue as we embrace this ongoing plan of action.’

On behalf of the four-strong Head Girl Team who took part in the forum, Head Girl Charlotte Baxter added:

‘It is so helpful to have been a part of this discussion hearing from both past and present students on this important issue. We look forward to helping deliver our vision of an inclusive community and giving it the platform that will allow it to be sustained and strengthened in the future at Woldingham.'

Woldingham’s new Head from September 2020, Dr James Whitehead, said:

‘I am pleased we have a clear plan for the future of diversity and equality at Woldingham, which is in keeping with our Sacred Heart ethos, ensuring that our school community is welcoming and full of generous loving-kindness. I strongly believe in the value of a curriculum that explores all aspects of our shared cultural history, in a manner that educates young people for life in the modern world.’

Woldingham’s vision is to provide an outstanding education that empowers women to change the world. Whilst there is much to celebrate in our school, recent events have raised important awareness of the need to constantly re-evaluate and re-educate ourselves, both staff and students. Thank you to the alumnae who contacted us to share their experiences as we renew our commitment to anti-racism. Racism has no place in this school and we wish to apologise to anyone whose experience has not been what they or we would have wanted, especially in a school which emphasises the importance of community so strongly.

There is still listening to be done and we encourage any current students or alumnae to engage with us by contacting the school directly on headmistress@woldinghamschool.co.uk

We are delighted that Judge Ifey Munonyedi and Mr Tim Woffenden have agreed to become the lead Governors for diversity and inclusion. The school is also planning to seek external advice to provide independent support and challenge. Our next step will be to add additional detail to the plans and create a focused timeline for implementation. We look forward to working with all members of our community, students, alumnae, parents, staff and governors, to make meaningful change.