South Wilts Grammar School responds following BLM protests

A SECOND Salisbury school has responded to pupils with a promise to “continue the conversation” after hundreds backed a letter calling for more black history to be taught.

Students, past and present, have been urging their teachers through letters and petitions to transform the ways in which they educate and engage with pupils, in a bid to tackle racial inequalities still embedded in society today.

South Wilts Grammar School, Godolphin, and Burgate School and Sixth Form Centre are just some of the schools which have been sent letters appealing for change.

As previously reported, the writer of one letter to South Wilts, which has been backed by nearly 600 signatures, said: “We just wanted to start this dialogue about what the school can do, it isn’t just our aim to chuck this letter at them, we want to help them. We want to actively work with the school so they understand.”

The alumni student, who asked to remain anonymous, left the school in 2015 but said the curriculum has always been “white-focused”, adding: “Schools need to recognise we’re built on structural racism. We need to look into the past and hear what has happened, and how this has influenced how we are today.

“With everything going on in the world right now, we need to remember the UK is not innocent. We really enjoy our school life but know more can be done.”

In response, South Wilts head teacher Michele Chilcott sent a letter to signatories this week, which confirmed that upon the school’s reopening representatives will be invited onsite to “continue the conversation” and offer “feedback from [the] school community”.

Part of the letter said: “The demand and need for an overtly anti-racist agenda within all schools is crucial and we recognise that it is our duty to make it clear that racism is never acceptable, and also to educate and equip our young people to be able to challenge racism wherever they see it.

“All forms of prejudice, including racism are addressed across the curriculum throughout the school and over the years we have made progress with our curriculum and ethos. However, we also know that there is much still to do.”

The letter continued: “In your letter you ask to begin a dialogue with the school about how we might begin to reflect about our role.

“This is something we welcome and we look forward to listening to your ideas and for you to also understand what we already have in place.

“Anti-racism cannot be simply about soundbites and one-off assemblies or guest speakers; it has to be an agenda that permeates all aspects of school life.

“For this reason it is important that we take a thoughtful, considered approach that really listens to and understands the voices of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people.”

Salisbury Journal | News