Back in 2020, in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic, a global movement came together in the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd. At that time, The Pegasus Academy Trust issued the following statement.
In the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, the tragic death of George Floyd in the USA, the BLM protests and the statue-defending, ‘All lives matter’, counter protests, came the news story of a heroic act and a comment of clarity. We refer to the story of Patrick Hutchinson, the personal trainer who became news when he rescued an ‘opposition’ protester by removing him from harm. We use the word ‘opposition’ in inverted commas for a very good reason, because when asked for a comment he said:
‘It’s not black vs white: It’s everybody vs the racists’
The senior leaders of Pegasus have now met on two occasions to consider our response to the BLM movement. We wanted to give this careful thought and do our research and reading, fully aware that some schools in our Trust have 85% black pupils and that, as recent events have demonstrated, the ‘lived experience’ of all community groups in London and the wider world is clearly not the same. However, we know that a statement does need to be made because now is not the time for passivity. It’s not enough anymore to simply ‘not be racist’. Now is the time to be proactively anti-racist, to challenge racist behaviour at all levels and to consider how Pegasus as an organisation might make changes in order to further address deep seated inequalities within society itself.
The Trust’s Equality Policy makes clear our “non negotiables”. While adhering to the principles of British Values we will:
- strive to eliminate all forms of racism and racial discrimination;
- make clear we do not tolerate any forms of racism or racist behaviour;
- challenge any form of racist behaviour;
- work to ensure that pupils and staff understand the importance of promoting race equality for the dignity of people and the well-being of the school and the whole community.
We will continue to ensure additional investment in booster teaching for pupils from socially disadvantaged groups and financially support extra-curricular activities that develop the whole child. We have moved quicker than the government to lend our pupils laptops so that socially disadvantaged pupils have access to our current online learning provision. We have continually improved our school facilities so that our pupils are educated in state-of-the-art, award winning surroundings, because they deserve this. We will undertake a review of our schemes of work and teaching materials to ensure that these reflect all our community groups. We will continue to actively challenge racism in the day-to-day, reflecting on our practice and resources and employing staff who have the highest expectations for our pupils. As our ethos says: ‘We care’.
We listen to the communities we serve and our Directors and MACs (governors) do not allow us to be complacent. We hear so many positive stories about our past pupils, not just the sporting heroes and the Oxford graduates, but from our children who have grown up to be socially aware, successful human beings, parents and members of society. These are our achievements. We are proud of the community that we serve and when we say ‘Black Lives Matter’ it is because we wholeheartedly believe that they do, and it is our intention that our actions demonstrate this on a daily basis.
‘Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of colour to deal with it. It’s up to all of us – Black, white, everyone – no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets.’
– Michelle Obama
We have included a useful ‘Parent’s guide to Black Lives Matter’ in the downloads sections below for those parents who wish to discuss this further with their children at home.
Three years on, we continue to reflect on what this statement means to Pegasus to ensure that we respond with actions rather than just words. There have been a number of notable actions and commitments from the Trust to become a proactively anti-racist organisation.
The Trust established an Inclusivity Committee to look at all aspects of the Trust’s practice including reviewing PAT policy and suggesting improvements to the taught and broader curriculum. The group welcomed staff from all Pegasus schools and all roles to contribute and they promptly developed an Anti Racism Policy which can be seen here. The group also worked with an organisation called the Black Curriculum to audit and review our curriculum offer ensuring that it better represents a more complete view of British history. This also led to a review of the texts used for our reading and writing studies and we now celebrate the work of a much more diverse range of writers with stories that make all members of our community visible.
Other work has included facilitating training, for example, staff have attended unconscious bias training. Children have had assemblies to raise awareness of issues and important organisations, for example, Show Racism the Red Card and there has been a Trust wide focus on accessing texts and resources across the schools to support the understanding of staff and children. All of this work and more has helped to develop a culture where issues around racism, diversity and representation can be discussed openly and respectfully.
Nevertheless, the Trust recognises that the important work of the Inclusivity Committee is ongoing and we continue to strive to be ever more an actively anti-racist organisation.