Gabalfa Primary School is located in Cardiff and goes from nursery to Year 6. It currently has around 275 pupils, from a diverse range of backgrounds. This was their first year running School Diversity Week so their Deputy Head, Liz, shares their experience.
We’re an inner-city Cardiff school that always strives to represent the diversity of our wonderful community. We’re lucky that we have so many different backgrounds represented among our pupils, with around 27 different languages spoken. In recent years, we have introduced LGBT+ inclusive education into our curriculum, such as showing same-gender relationships in our SRE lessons, so School Diversity Week seemed like the logical next step.
I remember the first time I looked through the Just Like Us toolkit and was delighted by the range of good quality teaching resources available. As I scrolled through the range of Early Years to KS2 materials on offer, I was drawn to how everything had a link to the curriculum so it was easy both for our pupils to understand and for us to fit into our schemes of work. With my own class, some of our favourites were KS2’s Rise Like A Phoenix and Conventional Clothing sessions. Not only did we learn lots about accepting differences but they were so easy to put our own Gabalfa spin on! For example, we created brilliant drawings inspired by the lyrics.
Other examples of work we did across the school include learning all about Anne Lister and Alan Turing; these are people the children had heard of before so it made them even more engaged. It was also really lovely to have a visit from our local MP, Anna McMorrin, who came along to help us celebrate. We were able to show her some of the artwork that we had been working on, as part of the Be proud of who you are colouring activity and for us staff it really helped make us feel part of a national week.
When you have a toolkit to hand, full of advice and guidance, you also learn alongside the children. It’s great to have that expert support from Just Like Us because you then know you’re doing the topic justice. When you look at lessons, such as ones about different families, even if they aren’t the correct key stage for your class, you learn so much. For example, I was reminded to make sure whenever you talk about different families you do so in all their forms. While you may not have children with two mums or two dads, you might have children being raised by grandparents or who have been adopted. School Diversity Week is a great opportunity to make sure you celebrate diversity in all its forms!
The week was made more special by the support from staff, pupils and parents. This support, and reflecting on the impact of Section 28 during my childhood, really helped focus my mind on the positive impact this work would be having on the school community.
At the heart of it, we wanted the week to really build on what we’ve achieved at Gabalfa. As I mentioned earlier, we’re at the heart of a diverse part of Cardiff so we often celebrate that and am lucky to have colleagues who are keen to make sure tolerance runs through our school. Now we can say we also represent the diversity of families and relationships in our local area which I believe makes us a more successful school.
For our pupils, as this is our first School Diversity Week, I wanted them to end it understanding what diversity means when it comes to different families and relationships. Any long lasting change can take time, but week’s like this are essential to start the building blocks in young people in an age-appropriate way. I hope that week’s like this lead to phrases such as “that’s so gay” being completely phased out of classrooms up and down the country.
On that note, one moment which sticks out to me was when some of my pupils shared why they were glad we were talking about what makes us different from one another. Pupils spoke about LGBT+ family members, some of whom had faced bullying, and remarked that they hoped that if other children were learning this in other schools, then in the future, people would be kinder to one another.