As you know, I wrote to you last week in response to the growing focus on social media about sexual violence and abuse in schools. This is not an easy subject to communicate about, but part of our commitment to working together as a community to address the issues that our young people face as we support them through adolescence into adult life. No doubt there are conversations about this that are happening at home, and I hope this week’s email is helpful if and when you are having them.
It is understandable that a small number of students across the year groups have been expressing strong opinions on these subjects. I have and will be using my time with students to make it clear that I entirely agree that all students have every right to be respected and would encourage every student to understand the importance of respecting themselves and each other. I am telling them that I have written to all parents last week explaining how important it is to us as a school that young people have the opportunity to grow up in a safe and secure place, with the safeguarding and education in place to help them as they grow and taking opportunities to put things right where necessary.
It is always good when young people find their voice on important issues; it is also important that they learn how to use it powerfully and effectively. I have had to point out to a small group that drawing messages on themselves and saying that they may choose not to come to lessons is not an effective way to bring about a change. I have explained why, explaining that if they are serious about wanting change then the best thing they can do is to work with the systems and the culture of the school and not against them. School expects students to follow the uniform policy and to attend lessons. Ideally we want students to wear our uniform to show that they belong, and to go to lessons because they want to learn. Once again, I fully support the reasons why a small group of girls have chosen to express their views this week. However, teachers have been asked to ask students to remove the drawing and writing on their arms and legs, or on school property, and to uphold the school uniform policy. I would be grateful if you could support the school in this, especially in relation to the appropriate length of skirts.
If you want to share an example with your children of how to make things change look at how our Head Boy and Girl, Benjy and Neha have worked this year with the Student Cabinet. Their work on Equality and Diversity has gone to students, staff, and governors and is just about to become part of the school behaviour policy. Next month they lead a city-wide conference on this issue, sharing what they have done. This will have a positive impact for many years to come, not just at Shenley but across the city. This is the result of us having great conversations, not confrontations. This is what helps us to help our students.
I am explaining that any student who is serious about being involved in meaningful and lasting change to grow the level of respect between students within school should contact Mr Mangan, Student Voice Leader, via firstname.lastname@example.org . If students have any safeguarding concerns, please speak to any member of staff or email email@example.com The student cabinet is discussing this issue and will be suggesting and consulting on strategies that will move the whole school community forward on this issue. Thank you for your support in this for our school community.