Equality Diversity Inclusion Programme
Solutions Not Sides - Friday 24th November 2023
Students from across Years 9-13 took part in workshops run by Solutions Not Sides. In the workshops, students heard from Israeli and Palestinian speakers in-person who focused on answering student questions and supported students in engaging with the subject of conflict within the safe space of a structured educational environment.
A Year 11 student commented: "I definitely do feel this workshop is worthwhile due to fact of how many different perspectives we get and the range of unbiased information that is given to us. I definitely came into the workshop not expecting that much but came out feeling and being more knowledgeable about the current conflict going on. I was able to not feel scared about asking questions that might be considered controversial. Most importantly, I was able to share what previous understanding I had but also learn at the same time. It definitely was worth talking to both the speakers that had actually experienced life during the conflict as again I got to learn and understand what they went through, they definitely made an impact towards me as it left me thinking more deeper and knowledgeable towards the conflict."
The Holocaust Educational Trust's 'Lessons from Auschwitz Project'
During the half term, two of our Year 13 History students took part in The Holocaust Educational Trust's 'Lessons from Auschwitz Project'.
This educational and commemorative project offers post-16 students the opportunity to learn about the Holocaust and consider its relevance for today. Through the bespoke interactive online platform, two online seminars and a one-day visit to Poland, participants join others from across the country as they embark on an educational journey in which they:
- Learn about the history of the Holocaust and the role of camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau
- Consider the individuals whose lives were affected by the Holocaust
- Reflect on the relevance of the Holocaust today and share their learning with others.
As a next step, the students who attended this will be sharing what they have learnt and experienced from this project with the wider school community.
One of our students, Wagma, wrote the following about her experience from the visit:
My trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a truly unforgettable experience. From it, I was able to gain an incredible insight into what conditions Jews were being treated under, the exact rooms where they slept, ate, worked until death, and in which they were brutally murdered in.
We visited the very gas chambers that thousands were brought in at any one point and killed, we saw displays of shoes of all the people who had died, as well as glasses, bags, chairs, and also hair. These really allowed us to gain a deep understanding of the sheer scale of atrocities committed during the Holocaust.
We also had the privilege to speak to a Holocaust survivor, Manfred Goldberg, who shared his inspiring story of life in the camps, of what it was like to be alive during the time, what it was like to be discriminated upon because of what he believed and stood for, something that is happening in the world even today. I was able to enhance my knowledge beyond the classroom from experiencing the place first-hand.
Hafsa reflected on the trip that:
The visit to Auschwitz offered me valuable lessons about the Holocaust, human resilience and the consequences of hatred. It emphasised the significance of tolerance, understanding and standing against injustice.
Witnessing Auschwitz-Birkenau for myself allowed me to understand in depth the atrocities the Jewish people faced during this horrific period in time where they were killed and hated simply for their beliefs. Furthermore, it reminded me of the importance of preserving memory in order to strive for a more compassionate and just world. By learning about the systematic dehumanization of individuals, labelling them as numbers, I leant the significance of education in preventing intolerance.
It was an opportunity to understand the complexities of history and the role each person plays in upholding human dignity and promoting empathy. Ultimately the visit inspired commitment to fostering a more inclusive and sympathetic world.
Solutions Not Sides and the Olive Branch Award progress 2022-23
Last year (2022-23), we collected three 'leaves' towards the Olive Branch Award. These were for taking part in the Youth Education Programme, Teacher Training and the Cambridge Conference. We are looking forward to continuing to work with Solutions Not Sides this year and continuing to build on this work of creating a positive culture of learning, listening and reflecting in line with Solutions Not Sides Charter of Values.
Solutions Not Sides and the Olive Branch Award
We have this year joined the Solutions Not Sides Olive Branch Award scheme. This is a really exciting scheme, focusing on building on and developing student skills in active listening, empathy, critical thinking and social & emotional learning around the topic of Israel-Palestine. We are committed to continuing and building on our work in creating a positive culture of learning, listening and reflecting on the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The work that we are doing with the support and guidance of Solutions Not Sides focuses on breadth of knowledge and perspectives, embracing diversity and developing students' critical thinking-skills.
As such, we are committed to Solutions Not Sides Charter of Values:
- To promote Social and Emotional Learning within the school
- To promote active listening and critical thinking
- To tackle antisemitism and Islamophobia
- To support non-violent forms of activism
- To take a whole-school approach to Israel-Palestine education
- To empower students to have a voice
- A rejection of conspiracy theories and a blame culture
- A commitment to seek win-win outcomes for conflict
- A commitment to practise empathy and respectful disagreement
- A commitment to equality, diversity, inclusion and belonging
We have made a three-year commitment to this Award as we are dedicated to ensuring that this work is embedded in everything that we do. We will then receive full accreditation at the end of these three years.
Our work with Solutions Not Sides this year is extensive. Our year 9 students are currently taking part in teacher-led lessons provided by Solutions not Sides. After February half term, Solutions not sides will be delivering their key workshop to all Year 9 students on building understanding, critical thinking skills and a focus on conflict resolution with application to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All staff will also be taking part in in-person teacher training delivered by Solutions not sides in March.
Holocaust Memorial Day – January 2023
Copthall was extremely happy to take up Hasmonean Girls school’s invitation for twenty Year 9 students to attend a Holocaust Memorial Day event on Thursday 26th January 2023. The students were very warmly welcomed by Hasmonean and it was fantastic to see students from both schools joining together to commemorate and show respect on this important day. Students heard from Lily Ebert, a 99-year-old Auschwitz survivor who described her journey from her Hungarian hometown of Bonyhád to Auschwitz. The visit gave students a valuable insight into the impact of the Holocaust, and helped to strengthen links between the two schools. Ms Ebert's incredible message of hope and courage was inspiring to all who attended.
Stand up - anti-discrimination
On Monday 30th January 2023, Copthall's Year 9s attended a Stand Up Anti-Discrimination workshop exploring antisemitism and anti-Muslim hate. During this session the students defined racism, antisemitism, anti-Muslim hate and other forms of discrimination with a focus on British Values and the Equality Act (2010). They looked at basic principles and beliefs of Judaism and Islam and broke down stereotypes seen on mainstream and social media. The students were given skills and tools to responsibly challenge hate crime empowering them to make a difference.
Alan Sennit Upstander's Programme 2023
Copthall School are proud to have 10 students from Year 10 who have been picked to be a part of the Alan Sennit Programme after going through an application process. During the programme the students will attend 4 day long seminars between December and May meeting students from other schools and learning about their backgrounds. They will learn leadership skills and how to become Upstanders in society by taking an active role in helping different communities by creating their own social action project In addition, the students will also develop their knowledge on anti-discrimination topics concerning antisemitism, anti-Muslim hate, LGBTQ+ discrimination, anti-disability prejudice and racism. This programme will end with a graduation ceremony bringing all the schools together in June.
We are committed to marking key religious festivals from across world religions. This is done via Teams assemblies for all year groups and with a focus on highlighting what we can learn from different religions, relating this to our school values and drawing on links and similarities across religions.
Black History Month - October 2022
We celebrated and marked Black History Month with whole school assemblies, introducing the theme for this year’s Black History Month: Time for Change: Actions Not Words. Within these assemblies, we encouraged students to consider what it means to be a changemaker and we considered the roles that changemakers past and present have played. We also discussed untold and hidden stories of Black British history.
All curriculum areas also marked Black History Month within their subject areas and a great range of activities and learning opportunities took place. This was a great opportunity to focus on educating and enriching students with the importance of Black history and formed a key part of our ED&I work as we look to further diversify our curriculum throughout the year.
We also ran various unique events to mark Black History Month which went beyond the school curriculum. These has included a trip to Kenwood House, Hampstead for a group of Year 8 students to discover more about the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle (1761–1804). The Copteen also provided a fantastic special menu once a week throughout Black History Month. Students commented on how much they enjoyed this and the menus, decorations and impact were all really positive.
Our Sixth Form Student Leadership Team ran a bake sale in order to raise money for the charity imkaan, a women’s organisation dedicated to addressing violence against Black and Minorities women and girls. They raised over £100. The Sixth Form Student Leadership Team also took part in a spoken word event led by a performance artist focusing on celebrating Black History Month.
Year 13 SNS Assembly Introducing Bridge Builders
On the Friday 14th January 2022 Copthall’ s Year 13s were introduced to the SNS Bride Builders Programme. This is an online leadership programme of three modules on Interfaith Leadership; Israel-Palestine and Conflict resolution and Peace Building. Although the main programme has been postponed due to covid anyone interested in Bridge Builders are encouraged to consider applying for the SNS Student Leadership Programme, its in-person cousin. Details and application form can be found here: Student Leadership Programme
Year 7 Stand Up – Stand Up Antibullying
On Friday 28th January 2022 our Year 7 students attended a Stand Up Anti Bullying workshop where they were encouraged to think about what is racial and religious bullying and explores the themes of respect, empathy and tolerance within and outside the school setting. The students discussed a variety of bullying scenarios, with a specific focus on racial and religious bullying and how to be an upstander rather than a bystander.
Holocaust Memorial Day
Copthall was extremely happy to take up Hasmonean Girls school’s invitation for twenty Year 10 students to attend an Holocaust Memorial Day event on Friday 28th January. The students were very warmly welcomed by Hasmonean and participated fully in a range of activities. It was fantastic to see students from both schools discovering more about each other, and realising that they shared similar hopes and interests. Mrs Abecasis, gave a very moving presentation about Alfred who was a child when the Nazis came to power in Germany. His family were forced to flee from Nazi persecution and then broken up entirely when he and his sister were placed in a catholic orphanage in the hope of saving them. Alfred never saw his parents again but did survive the war and ended up travelling to the United States as a teenager with his sister. It was very emotional when Mrs Abecasis revealed that Alfred was her father. The visit gave students a valuable insight into the impact of the Holocaust, and helped to strengthen links between the two schools.
Year 12 Stand Up -Media and Propaganda
On Tuesday 1st February 2022 the Year 12s attended a follow up workshop addressing the boundary between hate speech and free speech as well as looking at the phenomena of fake news. They explored the misrepresentation of communities through the spread of stereotypes and examined how incidents are reported in the media. The students were given methods and tools for campaigning online and reporting misinformation on Social Media empowering them to make a difference.
Yr12s you are the future leaders. Change is in your hands. Let’s try to create a school and wider environment where everyone feels happy and respected.
Zaynab from Stand Up EAD
Year 9 Stand Up -Anti Discrimination
On Tuesday 8th February 2022 the Year 9s attending a Stand Up Anti-Discrimination workshop exploring antisemitism and anti-Muslim hate. During this session the students defined racism, antisemitism, anti-Muslim hate and other forms of discrimination with a focus on British Values and the Equality Act (2010). They looked at basic principles and beliefs of Judaism and Islam and broke down stereotypes seen on mainstream and social media. The students were given skills and tools to responsibly challenge hate crime empowering them to make a difference.
Solutions Not Sides - STAFF
On Wednesday 9th February 2022 Copthall staff attended a workshop with Solutions Not Sides looking at how to create safe spaces and have open conversations with our students around the complex issues of Israel/Palestine. The staff were given an understanding of the narratives in Israel-Palestine, partisan activism in relation to Israel-Palestine and an understanding of how Islamophobia and Antisemitism arises in relation to the conflict.
Some feedback from the teachers;
“The session tackled difficult topics and gave us all tools and skills to have conversations more confidently regarding these issues.”
“I have now a better understanding of the reasons behind the conflict and key ways to support young people in conversations to support their understanding.”
“The session provided detailed explanation on Antisemitism and Islamophobia and how to reduce the possible hatred and promote more understanding, empathy and respect among people.”
Year 10 and 11 - 28 March 2022
On Monday 28th March 2022 the year 10s and 11s took part in a workshop learning about general conflict under-standing, building critical-thinking skills and understanding conflict resolution with the application of these principles to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The session also gave some background from both points of view as to the issues at the heart of the conflict, both past and present, and features real-life experiences and aspirations of people who are living through it, told in person by Israeli and Palestinian speakers from the region. The students were given a chance to ask our Israeli and Palestinian visitors questions and explored how Islamophobia and Antisemitism arises in relation to the conflict.
The first two sessions were run by our lovely Copthall staff which was a build up to the final session. The final session was on the 28th of March 2022 and involved speakers coming to speak to our students from both Israel and Palestine sharing their experiences. Students were encouraged to ask any questions they had prepared from the previous two sessions to both the speakers. Overall there was positive feedback from the students and the facilitators.
Some Feedback from students:
What did you enjoy?
"Both sides and perspectives were shown, as well as showing what life was like." - H. Omar
"Being empowered to speak about the issue. Being able to talk to the Peace activists from Israel and Palestine" - A.Jamil
Did you feel this was a safe space to ask questions?
I do feel that it was a safe place as we were given the option to relay our questions personally or anonymously- which decreased the pressure and anxiety that some would of had if they were expected to voice their points of view, had they been controversial or miscommunicated.
Do you feel these sessions have changed your perspective on the situation?
"I feel that my views are often based on trends or movements that are popular on social media whereas this session presented a different more honest truth to the conflict and the many misunderstandings that occur due to lack of communication and ignorance." - M. Albadri
"It brings to light that ordinary people are affected badly from both sides." - R. Rajavel Rekha