Cultural recognition in Schools: Diversity Champions

Diversity Champions. The University of Manchester BAME Widening Participation Programme

A diverse group of Year 9 students from Black and Global Majority (BGM) backgrounds designed and presented assemblies focused on community cohesion this week. There aim was to celebrate global cultures within the school population. I was inspired to see the students so passionate and proud to celebrate their backgrounds and challenge any misconceptions. 

“We have noticed that a lot of people don’t have much of an understanding of international culture. The Cohesion Project is about tackling issues surrounding discrimination as well as realising that no matter the race, religion, sexuality or culture of someone, we are all one united community and it is important we recognise and appreciate each other’s differences.” Ana, Age 13

Community cohesion assembly slide: Congo
Community cohesion assembly slide: Angola

The BGM student population has continued to increase annually, from 27.9% to 29.1% between 2016 -2017. Despite this, some schools still maintain a colour-blind stance that overlooks the acknowledgement of cultures from Global backgrounds.  Consequently, this unconsciously fuels issues that relate directly to social segregation and community cohesion. 

‘Tensions can grow where ethnic groups have segregated themselves from each other – whether by choice or circumstance – in housing, work, leisure and education’ UK Gov (DfES, 2003).’

Following the assemblies, the students will form the new Diversity Champions team. This will work in collaboration with The University Of Manchester’s BAME widening participation programme will be launching the project .

This project has been designed in response to the attack that took place in Manchester at the Ariana Grande concert. Reports of hate crimes and incidents in Greater Manchester rose by 500% in the month following the attack, police figures showed. They included a bomb threat, racist taunts, and graffiti. After this initial spike, and a high of 1,061 reported incidents, the figures have since dropped but remain slightly above 2016 levels.

This project has been designed to equip pupils with the right skills and knowledge to reduce all kinds of prejudice faced by a number of groups in society. It will enable the pupils to learn about a number of issues and topic’s giving them an open space to discuss and learn how to challenge and tackle discrimination. The champions will receive training from a number of partner organisations to improve their knowledge and understanding around mental health, equality and diversity, LGBT rights, conflict resolution and bystander roles and responsibilities.

Thanks again to Catherine Millan and Stephanie Lonsdale  for bringing this project to life.


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