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- St Dunstan's Diapason
St Dunstan’s College is delighted to announce the St Dunstan’s Diapason – a new umbrella structure for pupil-staff partnership to celebrate, promote and enhance diversity at the school.
The St Dunstan’s Diapason, which will be chaired by the headmaster, Nicholas Hewlett, will begin with five pillars, with a view to expanding this over time. The five pillars will be sexual orientation, sex and gender, race, religion and belief, and disability.
Each pillar will have a staff lead and a student lead (Sixth Form) who will work with staff and student champions within each area of interest from across the school. There will be no limit to the number of champions who can be attached to each pillar.
The role of the leads will be to hold regular meetings, both with staff and student groups, and together, as appropriate, to agree, implement and review an action plan, in agreement with the Executive of the Foundation, and in line with the overarching purpose of the Diapason. Each pillar will be encouraged to work alongside key charities and voluntary organisations, where appropriate.
Speaking about the new working group, Mr Hewlett explained the events of the last 15 months had inspired him to create the Diapason.
‘As a community, we have lived through three momentous events in the last 15 months – the Black Lives Matter movement of summer 2020, a global pandemic, and then most recently the Everyone’s Invited movement – I realised that as a consequence what we were seeing was an increased and worrying disconnect between the young and their teachers, triggered by the societal backlash in the aftermath of crisis.
‘We must start having meaningful dialogue with the young about issues that matter. A lack of open dialogue around such matters risks us not moving forwards. We need to take everyone with us on the journey to ensuring an equal society and one that genuinely cherishes diversity. That’s why I created the St Dunstan’s Diapason.’
He added: ‘Today we live in a world where social media and globalisation can stoke the fire of discontent in an instant, and on both sides of the thinking. This is coupled to a pandemic where people have been forced to shield behind the wall of a computer and the anonymity of a keyboard, our world has become much less an exchange of views – a healthy debate – and more an anonymised mud-slinging match of increasingly entrenched positions of outrage. I want to argue that educators and schools have a fundamental role in challenging this dangerous societal position but to do so will demand creativity and imagination from its leaders.
‘Last summer served as a wake up call at St Dunstan’s – it awoke a need to take stock, reflected and recognised that we can absolutely do better in our celebration of racial diversity and assurance of an anti-racist culture. For too long, schools have become conservative to the point that they have stifled their ability to think creatively about a genuinely inclusive agenda that seeks not just to include diversity but to promote it, not just to endorse equality but to live and breath it.’
The Diapason will meet as a group termly and all positions will be voluntary. At this meeting, the headmaster will receive a report on the progress made by each pillar, from the student and staff lead. Where intervention or support is required from the executive leadership, including budgetary consideration, this will be agreed at this meeting. Where the delivery of an action point requires the involvement of a senior member of staff, this will also be agreed at this meeting. The first meeting of the year will agree the plan for the year ahead. This termly meeting will also discuss any conflicting agendas from across the pillars.
St Dunstan’s College, which was last year named Independent Co-educational School of the Year, was most recently praised for its liberal thinking by the Good Schools Guide. ‘Diverse in every way – academically, socially, and intellectually,’ the review explained: ‘The St Dunstan’s ethos could come across as a bit ‘woke’ on paper, but in real life we found the school to be inspiring, both liberating and liberal thanks to interesting leadership, committed teaching and a very engaged student body. A great school for unstuffy polymaths.’
- St Dunstan's Diapason