2020 Accord Inclusivity Award winners announced

October 16, 2020

Three Bridges Primary School in Southall, West London, has taken first place in this year’s Accord Inclusivity Award for its efforts to ‘decolonize’ heavy White and Western bias across its curriculum. Measures taken by the school towards this aim span most subjects, from increasing the number of books covered in English classes written by non-White authors, to Geography lessons, where pupils no longer learn about the Seven Wonders of the World, but instead are educated about countries that have familial links with their classmates.

In history lessons pupils now learn that European explorers were not the first people to discover places such as North America, and teaching about space exploration and aviation has been updated to include the contributions of astronauts and pilots from ethnic minority backgrounds, such as Mae C Jemison and Bessie Coleman.

Importantly, lessons at Three Bridges also draw on local history. Year 6 pupils learn about the Southall Uprising in 1979 and get to visit the site where that day’s peaceful protest took place. The Uprising occurred in response to an election meeting that was provocatively held in the town hall by the white supremacist organisation, the National Front. On that day the anti-racism demonstrator and teacher, Blair Peach, died after being hit on the head. The Metropolitan Police concluded that Peach was probably fatally struck by a member of one of its units.

The school also demonstrates its inclusive ethos in its weekly assemblies and Religious Education (RE) classes. In RE, pupils visit a different place of worship each year, while school assemblies promote values that are inclusive of those of all different religions and beliefs and they mark a variety of different religious holidays during the year.

Chair of the judges, the Revd Stephen Terry, said ‘If we want children to receive an objective and pluralistic education, we need to ensure schools are free from racial and cultural bias. It is just this that Three Bridges Primary School exemplifies. It serves as a model to any school wishing to offer a rounded education.’

‘The Black Lives Matter protests, which have gained momentum this year, remind us that the campaign against racism has too often taken the form of words, not actions. Staff and pupils at Three Bridges Primary School are striving to change that, and the Judges are delighted to award them first place.’

Three Bridges School pupils

Explaining his school’s approach, Three Bridges Primary School headteacher, Jeremy Hannay, said ‘Our desire to decolonize our curriculum stemmed from the realization that what we were teaching was not representative or inclusive of our global society – it told one story and one experience. We realized this needed to change and are delighted our hard work has paid off and been recognized by the Accord Inclusivity Award judges.’

The Inclusivity Award, now in its tenth year, recognises those schools that work hardest at promoting mutual understanding and combating prejudice between those of different religions and ethnicities. Eastborough Junior Infant & Nursery School in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. has been placed second in this year’s awards.

The school already draws together a highly diverse intake, with 85% of its pupils speaking English as an additional language, with 16 first languages. It drew widespread praise from the judging panel for its efforts in promoting respect and open-mindedness towards those of different religious and cultural backgrounds, and for empowering pupils to develop their own sense of identity through self-awareness and personal reflection. Aspects of its work that stood out included:

  • providing a thorough programme of Religious Education which covered a wide range of religions and beliefs, including Humanism
  • organising regular assemblies that advanced pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development by drawing inspiration from a range of religious and other sources and in ways that respected pupils’ autonomy and backgrounds
  • giving children first-hand experiences of different groups of people, beliefs and places, through visiting different places of worship, engaging in a school twinning programme, and organising an annual interfaith week
  • arranging English and healthy eating classes for parents
  • participating in the ‘Carry my Story’ programme, organised by a local community interest company and funded by Kirklees Councils, where a refugee visited the school to meet a class and share experiences

Eastborough pupils with their school’s award

Commenting on the school’s success, Fr Terry, said ‘Eastborough School presents an excellent example of a school that has embedded inclusivity in its ethos and ways of working. The school has achieved this by broadening the horizons of pupils through the wide-ranging curriculum it provides, as well by building relationships across its local community, ensuring thereby that children and families are more empowered. The 2020 judges are delighted to recognise Eastborough as an example to others.’

Head teacher at the school, Tracy Mahmood, said ‘We feel very proud to receive this award. ‘At Eastborough School we pride ourselves on being one big inclusive family. Our staff and children take part in a variety of activities to help understand our community better and promote kindness and fairness. It is nice to have our efforts recognised’.

Old Basford School in Nottingham has been awarded third place. This primary school stood out for its work in breaking down barriers between those of different religious and cultural backgrounds. An important way this was achieved was through a complete overhaul of its Religious Education curriculum, after the school decided it was a subject which they wanted to develop significantly.

The School has complemented this work by providing a wide range of educational off-site visits, assemblies and other opportunities, which has enabled pupils collectively and personally to celebrate their different religious and cultural backgrounds. Old Basford’s revamped range of assemblies has included speakers from a diverse range of religious and belief groups, and its annual programme of work includes organising activities to observe Black History month.

Old Basford School pupils with their school’s trophy and dressed in red, in recognition of the school’s ‘show racism the red card’ day

Fr Terry, said ‘Schools can have a major role in boosting the acceptance of difference and diversity in society, which all too often gets overlooked due to the many competing demands placed on teachers. Old Basford School is to be congratulated for the self-reflection it has displayed in recognising its provision of Religious Education should improve, for then being proactive and transforming its provision of the subject, as well as for adopting a package of other important approaches which have boosted pupils’ awareness and acceptance of diversity. The judging panel hope other schools take inspiration from Old Basford School’s approach, which we highly commend.’

Head teacher at the school, Vicky Shaw, said, ‘Old Basford School sees it as a privilege to serve our diverse community. We are incredibly proud to have been acknowledged for this national award. We strive continuously, as a school community, to promote and allow all of our pupils to feel valued, accepted, recognised and empowered through celebrating multiple faiths, cultural backgrounds and using our whole school core values to embody an inclusive education for all. Congratulations to every member of our OBS Family; together, united, we can achieve so much!’

The judging panel also decided to recognise a fourth school and have awarded Anderton Park School in Birmingham with a Special Commendation. Previous judging panels have been able to award Special Commendations, but none until now have chosen to do so. Anderton Park School is also the first recipient ever to be recognised by the Inclusivity Award without having made a formal submission, demonstrating the 2020 Judges’ strength of feeling about the school’s work.

Explaining the panel’s decision to proactively reward the school, Fr Terry said ‘The legal requirement for schools to promote inclusivity between people of different characteristics and backgrounds is a vital part of our society’s equality and human rights framework. It helps us to forge a better society in which all may fully contribute. An attack on this framework is ultimately an attack on us all.’

‘Over the course of 2019, despite being at the centre of a media storm and under intense pressure to cease promoting the acceptance of LGBT people, Anderton Park School continued to drive forward the teaching of inclusivity between people of different characteristics, when many other schools would have crumbled. The judging panel are delighted to recognise Anderton Park School for the leadership it has shown, which should influence and motivate other educators across the country.’

In response, head teacher at the school, Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, said ‘Thank you so much for this award and am thrilled to accept on behalf of all the children, families, staff and the community of Anderton Park. We take our role as public servants very seriously and in doing so uphold the Public Sector Equality Duty through our daily interactions and work. We have known inequalities and know how insecure and anxious that makes us feel, and often shame. Schools must be part of the solution, not the problem and ensure all characteristics are protected. Huge thanks to Accord for all the work that you do, all your passion and unwavering commitment to equality, equity and justice. We are humbled that you thought of us.’

Recognised by Ofsted as a project for schools to support their work in advancing their legal equality and cohesion duties, the annual Award has been running since 2010. Joining Fr Terry, the Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, on the 2020 judging panel were:

  • Professor Lynn Davies – an educationalist with a specialism in understanding links between religion in the education system and conflict
  • Baroness Kishwer Falkner – a non-aligned working Peer with interests in religious and non-religious equality
  • David Isaac CBE – Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and formerly Chair of Stonewall
  • Sara Khan – Lead Commissioner for the Home Office’s Commission for Countering Extremism

Previous Inclusivity Award judges include former Conservative Secretary of State for Education, Lord Baker of Dorking; the Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Lisa Nandy MP; the Bishop of Buckingham, The Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson; broadcaster and political commentator, Iain Dale; and the journalist and writer Polly Toynbee. Further information on the 2020 Award can be found at http://accordcoalition.org.uk/inclusivity-award-2020/.

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