Assemblies this week in Years 7, 8 and 9 have focused on introducing pupils to the upcoming Black History Month – specifically, what it is and why it’s important we celebrate it. Black History Month is an annual commemoration of the history, achievements and contributions of Black people in the UK. It is marked throughout the month of October in the UK, but February in the US and Canada. It has its roots in 1930s America, but officially grew into Black History Month for the first time in 1970, when it took place at Kent State University, Ohio. Six years later it was being celebrated across the country in educational institutions, centres of black culture and community centres, with president Gerald Ford recognising the event and encouraging Americans to “seize the opportunity to honour the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavour throughout our history”. In the UK, Black History Month was first marked in October 1987, as part of African Jubilee Year. This year’s theme is “Proud to Be”, which Black History Month UK magazine says is “inspired by the 2020 Black Lives Matter events”.
Later on in October, we will be working with the charity ‘Show Racism the Red Card’, who will be visiting Plymstock School for 4-days to run a series of awareness-raising workshops with our pupils. Show Racism the Red Card is the UK’s largest anti-racism educational charity. It was established in January 1996, thanks in part to a donation by then Newcastle United goalkeeper Shaka Hislop. In 1990s Newcastle, Shaka was at a petrol station near St James Park when he was confronted with a group of young people shouting racist abuse at him. After one of the group realised that they had been shouting at Shaka Hislop, the Newcastle United football player, they actually came over to ask for an autograph! It was from this experience that Shaka realised he could harness his status as a professional player to make a difference. Coupled with the power of football and his status as a role model, Shaka thought education could be an effective strategy in challenging racism in society. We very much look forward to the workshops and we’re sure our pupils will get a huge amount out of them. In addition, on Thursday 21 October, our whole school will be celebrating the annual ‘Wear Red Day 21’, as a symbol to our collective commitment to the anti-racism movement.
This week Year 10 pupils saw the launch of our work experience programme. For the last two years this was unfortunately unable to take place, so we are absolutely delighted to be able to get this back up and running. We are proud to be one of the few schools out there that still gives every Year 10 pupil the opportunity to engage in a full week of work experience in July. We also provide the same opportunity in Year 12. It’s a great experience to get a real taste of what the working world is really like. Ideally, we aim for this to be in a buisness, service or sector that matches each young person’s future career aspirations.