Following extensive consultation in the summer of 2020 on diversity and equality at ESMS, a Task Force was set up to ensure that ESMS, as an organisation, listened to the voices of everyone in our community – be they former pupils, parents, pupils or staff.
We were motivated by the knowledge that we were not doing enough. As our starting point we wanted to do more to ensure that we are fully inclusive and welcoming, that we celebrate the rich cultural identities in our schools, provide more training for our staff and create more diversity within our workforce. We are raising the next generation and we believe it is our responsibility to help our young people to become more culturally aware so we are looking at changes we need to make to our curriculum and exploring how we can establish an anti-racist culture rather than a culture that is merely against racism.
If we are to achieve real change it is important that our expectations regarding behaviour are extremely clear, and that everyone in our community knows what to do and feels empowered to act if these expectations are not met.
The Task Force comprises of a central Committee and several focus groups. The work has involved 78 people, with three staff focus groups, a parent group, external advisors, including Professor Sir Geoff Palmer, a professor emeritus in the School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, and three pupil groups. That children from P3 to young adults in S6 are being listened to is important. Since it was launched at the start of the session the Task Force Committee has met three times, to hear the views of our focus groups. These groups have explored and discussed various themes, with recommendations being put forward. Work to implement the actions and changes that have been identified as crucial will be completed over the coming session and beyond.
The interest and involvement by our former pupils in the consultation was important in helping us to shape the work of the Task Force. Having left ESMS, they will not experience the changes we are making but we would welcome any of those who are interested in finding out more about the changes we are developing to get in touch at email@example.com and we would be happy to share further details.
Kirsty Nicholson is Head of The Mary Erskine School and Chair of the ESMS Diversity and Equality Task Force