A group of 60 volunteers from Year 9 and above are creating student-led change by becoming Equality Ambassadors. The initiative launched on Thursday 29th April 2021 and gives students a platform to voice their views, educate others and develop a culture of inclusively – where everyone is ‘Free to be me’.

Covering the spectrum of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), the group’s work is also closely linked to the School’s collaboration with external consultancy, Flair Impact, on Racial Inclusion and Awareness in October 2020 and ongoing development.

The purpose of the group is to ensure that all members of our school community:

  • Feel supported and not discriminated against regarding their protected characteristics (Equality Act 2010)
  • Understand their rights and responsibilities regarding the protected characteristics
  • Feel listened to, are aware of their right to free speech, but always consider the feelings of others
  • Understand the School's values regarding equality
  • Feel comfortable reporting incidents that fall below the School`s expectations regarding equality and/or against an individuals' protected characteristics
  • Understand the consequences for breaking the School Code of Conduct for Equality.

To drive change, the group will be developing their own Equality Code of Conduct, which will be shared with staff, as well celebrating diversity and empowering everyone to respect each other as individuals.

The Launch Session

Guided by Deputy Heads, Mr Gower and Mrs Savage, students took part in an activity where they wrote about issues that affected them as individuals, issues that affected the School, and where they see Chigwell in the future (“Chigwell will be a place where…).

Following the session, student, Libby, wrote:

“We discussed the different ways to raise awareness of inequality and create student-led change. Changing a culture will not be an overnight process, however, as Equality Ambassadors, we will be able to work with the teachers as well as other students to create change. The meeting itself was empowering, as it was refreshing to be in an environment where everyone is working towards the same goal – equality.”

Volunteers from across year groups came forth following an assembly by Mrs Savage.

Submissions from students applying to be Equality Ambassadors included:

“I love Chigwell and the surrounding area, due to the diversity and the number of different ethnic minorities of other students at the school, but the world is bigger than Chigwell. The world is bigger than me. Your experiences can influence you, if you let them; if you choose to act on those experiences so other people don't have to go through them as well, if you choose to make a difference. I choose to make a difference.”

“After hearing the assembly, I felt moved by what you said. I think that it is necessary for there to be ambassadors of all races and genders. I’m personally mixed race and am a member of the lgbt+ community and have experienced minor cases of discrimination, especially because people usually expect queer people to be white. I also am biologically male and because of that I have experienced double standards and stereotypes e.g: boys don’t wear skirts, boys can’t show emotions etc. Being an ambassador would help with these issues, within the school, at least.”

“After the assembly on Friday, I realised how passionate I am about this issue and I feel I can contribute a lot to help this cause. I know many people who have experienced these situations, therefore it is very personal to me. I would really like to be involved in making a change, not only in our school community, but hopefully in the wider world.”

“I was very happy to hear the assembly we had today because I feel as though I and many of my peers have faced experiences that we are angry about and that make us scared. I was very moved that we are finally talking about it and I would like to be a part of the anti-discrimination group that Mrs Savage talked to us about.”

“After the assembly in chapel earlier this week, I spoke to Mrs Savage and explained how and why I am so passionate about this topic.

I understand that you would offer training, which I think is a brilliant idea to help keep students feeling as safe and secure within their own bodies and minds as possible. Those who would be trained could aid those who seek help, directly. I also understand that you would need someone to speak from the front (someone who will be understood and heard) to other students within the school. Sometimes students may not feel entirely comfortable confiding in teachers - so hearing information, advice and guidance from student role models for the younger years would be extremely beneficial.

I would love to be given the opportunity to do this and to be an ambassador for the School, as I feel as a student myself, I could connect on a personal level and would be someone who the students would relate to, hear, and understand; I believe I can make and cause a positive impact and progression.”

Extracts from Mrs Savage's Assembly

The Equality Act has been part of our PSHE programme for the last 10 years and it is our job as school to explore and discuss these topics. We are all different and have different experiences in life and we all have the right of free speech. However, what we all must do is to show empathy to others and be aware of others’ points of view.

As a school community we all have a responsibility to listen to each other and we all need to be ‘Free to be me’.

We are pleased that individuals have shared with us their thoughts and feelings about issues that they or others have faced both here at school and in the wider community. Some of these comments look at double standards, sexualisation of women and what made me sad was that many of the same comments were made when I was at school many years ago, so clearly there is still a long way to go.

We are not going to be able to right every wrong in the world, but we can all make a difference. As the Chaplain said – ‘Change starts with me'. ’

Mrs Savage, Deputy Head

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