'Our school prides itself on an inclusive ethos'
Angela Rooke, acting head, Hornsey School for Girls
- Credit: Flick Heron
We are privileged to learn and work with young people who are politically curious and aware of global shifts and changes in power. This can be positive and challenging, and this was the case when the situation in the middle east recently imploded.
I know from reading national papers, that our school was not the only school in London to have faced repercussions from global actions far out of the reach of the leadership and management of our small, bespoke school. We pride ourselves on an inclusive ethos, with respect and understanding at the core of our professional and personal practice. However, tensions across our student body were clear to see as international media documented actions taking place across Israel and Gaza.
We value the political literacy of our students, but it cannot come at the expense of the safety of all within our community. As a school, we respect the fact that our students are curious about the world they live in, and we want them to engage in understanding how politics shapes the lives and destinies of people across the globe.
Conflict is hard, and painful, as spectator or participant.
As school leaders, we have to walk a fine line, ensuring freedom of speech and expression is valued without harming others, or making it unsafe for them to attend their school. Like all schools, we are a complex community, made up of multitudes of religions, ethnicities, values and beliefs.
Our challenge as leaders and teachers has been to ensure students and teachers can express their views without feeling intimidated, or unsafe in doing so. As the world continues to get smaller, we owe it to our students to give them the right tools to express themselves respectfully of other cultures, religions and viewpoints. These are learned skills, and have to be taught explicitly and implicitly in all we do.
When conflict arises globally, we feel it in London schools. Our challenge in the 21st century is to ensure our students have the language and skills to express their differing viewpoints.