Posted on September 28th 2021
HAP Wins 'Best Curriculum' Prize at Diversity Awards
Friday September 24th was another wonderful day for Harris Academy Peckham community.
It was, after all, the Diversity Awards for Education evening, a celebration of schools in London who offer above and beyond support and celebration for their rainbow communities, representing the multitude of ethnicities, languages, faiths, and backgrounds that make London's schools distinct.
Harris Academy Peckham themselves were nominated for four (yes four!) awards that evening, including nominations for our work with communities and the brilliant contributions of exceptional year groups.
Who would win 'Best Curriculum'?
However, there was one particularly coveted prize: "Best Curriculum". The question remained, which curriculum truly took seriously the genuine representation of the communities being taught, and ensured that their students could become truly global citizens?
The drum rolled, schools across the country waited with bated breath... The winner was, yours truly, Harris Academy Peckham. Mr Tate, Ms Bergin, Mr Lane and Head Girl, Treasure (all pictured), cheered in delight. We did it!
But what was the background to this? Our curriculum development started two years ago. The killing of George Floyd in America and the subsequent protests that ensued, have served as a catalyst in many ways.
Here at Harris Academy Peckham, it sparked an internal review of staff’s feeling and attitudes about racism and representation in education. The audit revealed to staff and students that a lot of good quality work was currently underway. However, staff were not always aware exactly how each department was ensuring diversity in their curriculum.
This was a missed opportunity for inter-disciplinary practice, we had to seize it. From these discussions we were prompted to do a curriculum audit to ascertain how effectively we were practising diversity and inclusion as an institution.
Good practice across departments
Each department was tasked with identifying actions taken in the past, current strategies and future aspirations that demonstrate we are catering for our diverse staff, students and community. Good practice shared included:
- History's use of Christine Councell's "Meanwhile elsewhere..." principle to ensure that any study of British history explored its global consequences; alongside its intermittent in-depth study of particular cultures that led to Peckham's own diversity such as the study of Islamic Civilization in Year 7 and the study of Mansa Mussa in Year 8
- The English department's "Diverse Shorts" scheme of work that include short stories and extracts written by Benjamin Zephaniah and Sita Brahmachari. Or its in depth study of Boys Don’t Cry, an Own Voices text by Malorie Blackman,a Black writer, that does not tokenise Blackness but does explore Black experiences
- The Science Department's celebration of scientists from around the world, to help students put similar names and faces to the content that they themselves are studying
- The RS department's religion in the media module, exploring issues of solidarity in the Black Lives Matter Movement with those battling Holocaust denial online.
Of course, winning this award cannot become merely a tokenistic "box ticked". Moving forward we will be re-auditing our curriculum, ensuring we are up to date with the issues our community faces, work towards a Diversity Mark and wean out institutional racism wherever we can.
Nonetheless, this is a promising stepping stone in that journey. It means a great deal to our young people that their backgrounds and worldviews matter in forming our Peckham schema. To be rewarded for this spotlights that this means a great deal to wider society too.
What students and teachers say...
“It is fantastic to have won this award. Nonetheless, we must remember that excellence is not an event, it is a habit. We look forward to working on the Diversity Mark to push forward.” Mr Tate Science Teacher
“We have worked hard to ensure that students get access to literature from a range of voices. It is important for children to read about the lives of people similar to themselves and others.” Ms Kohnen-Zuelzer, Librarian
"Including diverse voices, stories and experiences within our curriculum is important to ensure we reflect the rich and vibrant community of Peckham. Within History this is crucial, as without these voices and stories being interweaved into the tapestry of our curriculum, we fail to tell the complete narrative of our past." Mr Tye Head of History
“We have realised that we can make an impact on the academy community and create a curriculum that can connect and touch different lives.” Treasure, Student Principal
“A diverse curriculum means that can get to live different people’s experiences.” Megan, Student Vice Principal
“I am so happy that we have actually made a clear positive change to the world.” Faridat, Student Assistant Principal
Click HERE to see the latest newsletter from Learning Workz about the Diversity Awards and Diversity Mark.