Open letter asks KCC to focus on racism
An open letter from alumni of Kingsbridge Community College asking the school to focus on its teaching of racism is gaining signatures.
Ellie Spence wrote the letter after seeing similar letters being sent to schools from people across the country to ask their schools to "do better" when it comes to teaching a more diverse curriculum.
|Ellie Spence has written an open letter to KCC|
Ellie, 21, from Chillington, left KCC a few years ago and said: "I think its a fantastic school, I loved my time there and I have huge respect for the teachers and support staff there, but I think there are things we could do better.
"I felt like it needed to be said, and as far as I'm aware no one had said it, so I said it myself."
I think its a fantastic school, I loved my time there and I have huge respect for the teachers and support staff there, but I think there are things we could do better.
Ellie had seen the trend for these questions being asked of educational institutions on the back of recent protests and a "time of massive social change" and while she loved her time at KCC, she felt that she and her classmates weren't given "a sufficient and comprehensive education on racial matters".
She thinks this is even more important for KCC, as one of their pupils, Alex Peguero Sosa, was tragically murdered in a racially motivated attack just six years ago.
"Its so close to home for us in Kingsbridge", Ellie said, "I've spoken to younger pupils who either weren't at school when Alex was murdered, or were too young to really understand what happened, and they didn't realise that he was attacked because of the colour of his skin.
"This is something the school could easily address in an anniversary assembly or to mark Alex's birthday, and make sure the pupils understand what happened."
Talking about her view for the best case scenario response to her open letter, which currently has more than 230 signatures, Ellie said she would like the school to make a "comprehensive and public statement" in response to the letter.
"I'd like them to make a commitment to improve" said Ellie, "I'd like them to include more literary works by authors of colour, and more of a comprehensive view of history. I'm aware they don't have complete control over the curriculum, but there are ways to make teaching more ethnically diverse and sensitive to history. A lot of school are also demanding changes from Government to give them more control over the curriculum they can teach.
I'd like them to include more literary works by authors of colour, and more of a comprehensive view of history
"I'd also like them to put forward a clear racial code of conduct. During my time at the school I witnessed incidents of racism which I don't think were handled with the seriousness that they warranted."
Ellie says she has sent the letter to Kingsbridge Community College and they are aware of it. She knows that they are currently working on whether they can reopen in September due to Covid-19 but it hoping for a response from them soon.
She concluded saying: "This isn't me slagging off the school, I loved it and I've recently worked in a school, I know its a difficult job!"
You can read the letter and sign it if you wish to by clicking here.
Kingsbridge Community College's principal, Tina Graham: “I was delighted to receive the letter from Ellie and other alumni of the college drawing our attention to the importance of the issues raised by Black Lives Matter. We have a key role as educators to counter prejudice and misconception in all its forms wherever it is found. Key to this is to develop students who can critically evaluate evidence for themselves, think independently and make their own minds up about the issues we face as a culture and a society. I welcome this letter because it proves that this group of students have developed just these skills.
Key to this is to develop students who can critically evaluate evidence for themselves, think independently and make their own minds up...I welcome this letter because it proves that this group of students have developed just these skills
"We have to cover a great deal of knowledge in our curriculum. We have to make sure that we cover the knowledge and develop the attitudes to counter racism and also other forms of prejudice such as religious, sexual, and gender. We cover many aspects of colonial attitudes and power-based relationships through our study of the rise and fall of great civilisations as well as the history of our own country. Topics such as the slave trade and the Civil Rights movement in America are covered in depth, as are other forms of prejudice such as the Suffragette movement.
"We keep our curriculum under constant review, and are grateful to this group of students for helping us with this through their well-articulated insights.”
We keep our curriculum under constant review, and are grateful to this group of students for helping us with this through their well-articulated insights
Ellie added: "I am encouraged by Tina’s response, which suggests a willingness to change and to tackle some of these issues head-on.
"However, as always, actions speak louder than words, and I look forward to discussing further with Tina some of the concrete actions the school plans to take in response to this criticism, and I trust that the school will make an official statement once those decisions have been made."