Our School, Our Week - 5 June
Black Lives Matter, Student News, Year Group Chat Highlights, LRC News
Denmark Road High School
Our School, Our Week
Black Lives Matter
It is as simple as that.
The news is awash with coverage of the current civil rights protests. Social media strewn with opinions. Each of us will have our own views. As a headteacher I was moved that one of our Black Students took the time to contact me and ask what was I going to do as her headteacher. It was a really good question. It made me think. As a woman, I understand sexism; I know the discrimination I have experienced because of my gender. I therefore know the role I can play as headteacher in educating the young men and women in our school to address this. I don’t know what racism feels like. I don’t know what it feels like to be a Black Student at our school and a Black Person in our country. So I asked her to educate me. This is what she said.
“I feel like racism affects young people as because of your race you have to act a certain way to not match the 'stereotypes'. You have to learn that you're different through other peoples’ comments or actions, as well as reactions. For example, I'm more likely to get followed in a shop than my white friend. Additionally, as I am a passionate person I feel as a black girl my voice comes out as aggressive and the stereotypical 'loud black girl'. As I am a student, I feel as if when I'm in the workplace in the future I will have to act different and restrict myself so I don't come off as a 'loud angry black woman'.
Due to people's unconscious bias, there's more pressure to fit in and you always question your authentic selves. Even when we are treated differently (not necessarily due to race) we always think it's due to the fact we're black as it's so drilled that we're different.
We also lack people of colour in our education, as if we were never there. I understand that we do learn about slavery and apartheid but I don't think it's a substantial amount. We never learn about British black history such as Windrush, or blacks seen in a positive light. As my great grandma (who is still alive today) was a part of the Windrush I feel like they never emphasise how recent these things happen. The slavery topic was extremely brushed under the carpet and I understand it may be uncomfortable to speak about but it must be said.
People being uneducated is the reason why racism is so common to this day, and it's a mental battle constantly in our heads as we always feel judged.”
It is time to no longer assume we know what racism is. To no longer assume we know how it should be taught. We need to listen. To educate ourselves of the reality. And then to respond.
Our school is in the process of reviewing the entire curriculum. We have asked ourselves ‘what do we want students to learn and how do we best teach this?’. Early in the year, we looked at curriculum offers in other schools and focussed in on an article that appeared in The Guardian about Townley Grammar School in London. It spoke of how they had modified their curriculum offer to engage with what matters to students, to improve inclusivity, for example the selection of texts to include ‘The Color Purple’ and modifying school rules so that ethnic differences in appearance are embraced rather than penalised. We shared it with all staff as the basis of what we wanted to achieve, a curriculum which is relevant to our community and prepares them for the wider world. At the end of term, we have a week in which we will be completing our curriculum review and planning for 2020-21. It is an exciting opportunity to make our curriculum better fit our wide ranging needs.
So, in response to the question what are you doing as headteacher to respond to Black Lives Matter. I am asking you to join the one voice above. If you would like to be part of a committee that looks at how we may better educate on Black Lives Matter through our curriculum, please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org I would like this group to be student led but if there are parents who feel they may contribute please also make contact.
Beth Worthington 8K, has been practising her photography during half-term.
Lakshmi Kalithkar, 8BA has been painting and making a box during half-term. What a wonderful job she has done!
Isobel Campbell-Davies from 8BA has sent in photos from a half term family walk.
Olivia Baxter in 12RK has been very busy in lockdown. She has been taking part in a large number of online dance sessions. She has made contact with some of the choreographers. From this, she has had an amazing invite from Hamilton Evans, a choreo-grapher in LA to Lady Gaga and Dui Lipato. He has asked her to take part in an intensive dance course with him this week via Zoom. Broadway here we come! Well done Olivia.
Year Group Chat Highlights
Beatrice Whitelock and Lucy Morgan both made rainbow cakes, Francesca Rayner made scrunchies from scratch and Naila Rambaran made Eid cookies.
Phoebe Cox embroidered some shorts as well as doing some upcycling of other clothing.
Ava Rushby has been making her own pasta. She also has some pet quail.
Rebecca Brooks, 12AL writes:
I am an aspiring doctor and am part of an organisation called Medic Mentor who helps aspiring students and medical students to become the best doctors possible. From Tuesday to Sunday in half term, I took part in a COVID-19 innovation programme as part of Medic Mentors' medical leadership programme. Students from across the UK were randomly split into about 40 teams of up to 6 members and assigned a medical student as a facilitator. Each team was tasked with a different scenario on COVID-19 including PPE, ventilators, testing and treatment (the topic my group was assigned to). We worked virtually with the other members of the team to complete tasks based on COVID-19 the problems it poses to doctors, ethics and finally produce a poster presentation. In my group poster, we focused on Remdesivir the drug that can currently be prescribed compassionately to patients in the UK, USA and Japan due to two clinical trials suggesting quicker recovery times from the virus when used. Around 40 teams took part and the top 6 were shortlisted and presented at a nationwide virtual conference on Sunday. The shortlisted teams then had to answer questions from doctors who had marked the presentations. At the end of the conference, the overall winner was announced. My team was scored as the team with the best poster presentation, which is an achievement I am very proud of as it was challenging working virtually with students I had never met and producing a poster presentation was something new to me.
Merrie Wells in Year 11 also took part and has written her summary below:
Medic Mentor also supplies the same support for vets and dentists. As an aspiring vet, I also took part in the innovation programme and the national conference on Sunday. I found both of these incredibly interesting and useful as they provided insight into the current pandemic as well as helping to develop my critical appraisal skills through the poster presentation, my ability to come up with unique solutions in a structured debate and my communication skills on the webinar platform “zoom”. As one of the teams, I also had to research and produce a presentation. However, the focus of ours was “the economic impact of COVID-19 on the veterinary profession”. After conducting research we found that overall, COVID-19 has had some negative effects such as furloughing, the reduction of fees due to consultations being over the phone and a lack of patients in general. As well as this, we looked into the impact of the pandemic on animal welfare during the debate and discovered some surprising benefits- such as the exposure of china’s non-existent animal welfare programme which following the pandemic, will hopefully be improved. Overall, the week taught me many useful skills and I would recommend it to any aspiring doctors, dentists or vets.
Our DRHS Book Marathon Challenge numbers continue to increase steadily and now total 1018 reviews from both students and staff. The numbers show that Year 8 are the most prolific readers, especially 8BE, so well done to them – keep it going! Among the most popular authors are the following: Anthony Horowitz (Alex Rider Series), Robin Stevens (Murder Most Unladylike Series), and Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games Series). Of single book (non-series) authors, some of the most popular are currently Michael Morpurgo, Katherine Rundell and David Walliams. Thank you for keeping your daughters and sons reading. I’m indebted to Mrs Shaw for collating the Google Forms into a weekly spreadsheet for us all. This week she is adding a question to the Google Form to note which format students are using to read (book, e-book, audiobook, e-audiobook) – all formats are valid. Please remind your daughters to submit their reviews on the Google Forms.
During the time that we are working at home, I’m running a number of Google Classrooms: LRC, Carnegie Writers, Carnegie Shadowers, Denner Blue Coat Best Book Award Group and Library Prefects and Monitors. I post links to reading or writing related content every weekday, so if your son or daughter would like to comment on these at all, please ask them to do so. Currently I’m promoting the Cheltenham Science Festival, which is completely online this year: https://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/science-home/. Their YouTube channel is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmqRNya6Rxs.
I’m very pleased to announce that the very popular YA author, Holly Smale, has been kind enough to record an encouraging message for our students, which your daughter or son can view on the LRC Google Classroom. (Holly has sent this to us on the condition it is not distributed on social media – many thanks in advance).
If your son or daughter loves to write, the organisations which run the Carnegie Medal are holding a competition which needs just 300 of their best words! Details are as follows:
"Imagine you had the opportunity to spend the day with your favourite character in their fictional land. What would you want to do? Where would you go? Who would you want to meet?"
If your child is interested in this competition, please have them ask me for details of our Carnegie Shadowing Group name, so that they can enter. All entries should be emailed to email@example.com before Monday 14 September 2020 to be in with a chance of winning.
For anyone who needs to write about their lockdown experiences, the National Literacy Trust is offering this opportunity with poet Laila Sumpton, called All The Empty Spaces: https://literacytrust.org.uk/family-zone/zone-in/write-about-your-lockdown-experience-poet-laila-sumpton/
World Empathy Day is coming up on June 9 and it focusses on using books to develop our empathy skills. Being able to see the world from another person’s viewpoint has never been more needed. Take a look here for details of family activities, read-alouds and more: https://www.empathylab.uk/empathy-day.
There are a couple of ways you can support the LRC from home. One is by nominating us for the National Book Tokens’ competition to win £5000 of book tokens for your school library: https://www.nationalbooktokens.com/schools Every nomination counts. Thank you. The other is by considering a purchase with Scholastic Book Clubs: https://shop.scholastic.co.uk/schools/denmark-road. The LRC benefits in that we receive credit to the value of 25% of orders which we can spend with Scholastic on resources for our students.
Finally, do remember that joining your local library is free and is open to everybody. All counties provide access to e-books, e-magazines and other online resources to their readers. If you’re not sure where to start, e-mail me, and I’ll take a look at what’s available in your area. Here’s a link to all the resources for home learning that Gloucestershire Libraries has gathered together: https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/media/2098016/online-resources-for-parents-and-teachers.pdf. Of course our own online resources are still available via the LRC’s Google Site (Online Resources page) for all students to use.
Ms Carol Cordall, School Librarian
Follow the LRC on Twitter @DRHS_LRC and Instagram drhs_lrc
Photography using materials to re-create famous works of art
Two DRHS students took their LAMDA Acting examinations at the Swindon Public Centre just before lockdown. The results are through as follows:
Charlotte Hudson, 8H - Grade 4 Acting - Distinction
Annette Farrimond, 8K - Grade 3 Acting – Distinction
Mrs Di Tomaso
Thank a Teacher Day
Dear Mrs Pines - I just wanted to say thank you for everything you taught me. Without you, I would probably not have chosen any languages to continue with. I have learnt so much in your lessons. You are also lovely to our class, even though we can be very loud.
I hope you have a great day!
Dear Miss Cook - As it is thank a teacher day, I wanted to say thank you for being an amazing tutor!! You were never meant to be our tutor but everyone in 8Ba is so glad you are! You are so lovely and you have done loads for us this year, including bringing us treats at the end of term and agreeing to be in the toilet roll challenge! Thank you for emailing lots of teachers to sort things out for us and for making our online learning as smooth and good as possible. Once again Thank you!
Finally, Follow me @DenmarkRoad365
Please follow me on Instagram at drhshead and Twitter @denmarkroad365. You will see a snapshot into DenmarkRoad365 and the life of a Headteacher at one of the most amazing schools in the country.