This year we took part in our first ever UK School Diversity week, which is an initiative created by a new UK charity, Just Like Us.
Due to our extensive work in the area of support for young LGBTQ people and our current focus on tackling HBT (homophobic, biphobic, transphobic) bullying, we were invited to be the flagship school for the launch of this exciting event.
Two students, Angus Wood, Yr10 and Robin Casey from Year 8, were invited to attend the launch at the Houses of Parliament.
A host of activities took place which included a visit from local Batley Bulldogs professional, and openly gay, rugby league player, Keegan Hirst.
Another visitor to the school was local radio DJ, Stephanie Hirst, who came to talk to our Year 8 students about her life and the difficulties she faced as a young person coming to terms with her being transgender; it was a truly inspiring speech which set the tone for the Year 8 students who then had a workshop session with Barnardo’s Positive Identity team.
Towards the end of the diversity week, we had a launch of 300 coloured balloons with messages about equality, acceptance, inclusion, tolerance and of course, diversity.
Finally, on the Friday afternoon we had a celebration event where our students were entertained by some local community musicians and also by our own student musical and dance performances.
Representatives from many local community groups came to deliver talks and give workshops covering all aspects of diversity: faith, religion, age, disability, ethnicity, race and gender identity.
There was also an opportunity for students sign a memorial piece for Jo Cox. It was an excellent week which raised over £700 which we have donated to Just Like Us to help them to continue their excellent work in this area.
Student Voice Symposium
This year we held our annual Student Voice Symposium at Huddersfield University. Our student council members worked alongside other student councils from Ryburn Valley High School, Brighouse High School, Sowerby Bridge High School, North Halifax Grammar School and Calderdale College.
On the day, students listened to an opening speech from Stuart Smith, director of children and young people’s services, after which all schools had the opportunity to present school projects and have some group forums where lots of questions and answers could be shared.
Our students came away with lots of ideas and information which will help our own student council plan for future projects.
Memorable Trip to the Battlefields
Our annual battlefields tour with Year 10 students was a great success and we managed to dodge the odd raindrop to enjoy a sunny trip with the memorials and sites on the Somme region having extra poignancy in this centenary year.
Our tour of the Ypres Salient began with the West Riding Memorial and Essex Farm, Ypres, Sanctuary Wood preserved trenches and Langemarck German cemetery, ending with the daily act of remembrance at the Menin Gate where Dylan Wade and Surekha Kandasamy represented the school with pride. Marmaduke Hall (on his birthday) also laid the wreath to our deputy head, Captain Ernest Mander at Tyne Cot Commonwealth Cemetery and students took time to pay individual acts of remembrance with British Legion crosses.
There was just enough time in the schedule to squeeze in an evening of games and ten pin bowling, ice creams in a garden and a visit a chocolate shop where the amazing Hans (the Willy Wonka of Ypres) - shows how it’s possible to part 56 excited students from their euros in under 10 minutes! A good time was
had by all and the impeccably behaved students were a real credit to the school and their parents.
Careers Opportunities Brought to Life
Year 10 and 12 students enjoyed a day off timetable to attend a careers day within school. Over 60 guests came into school to share information about careers from many organisations within the manufacturing, retail and service sectors as well as the armed forces, universities and colleges. There were also workshops about medicine, working with animals, utilizing foreign languages, teaching, journalism and film and television as well as IT and the games industry. Students were able to choose from workshops sessions as well as visiting various stalls to pick up information and talk to guests. Many students said that their eyes had been opened to new career opportunities that they hadn’t even considered.