girls in class

Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

Dear members of the Channing Community,

As you will be aware, we formed the Channing Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Steering Group (DEISG) in July 2020 under the chairmanship of former parent, Anjula Thompson. The group included current and former students and parents, as well as serving staff and Governors, and undertook an extensive review of existing policies, procedures and practices at Channing to ensure that Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) was supported at all levels. Today I am delighted to share with you the group’s recommendations and our progress on their implementation. I would also like to thank all members of the DEISG for their valuable work which forms the foundation of our DEI work in school now and for the future.

You will see from the report that the DEISG’s working parties covered a huge range of issues and areas related to school life in great detail, and have made some thoughtful and significant recommendations for the ways in which Channing can support DEI work across the school. These have prompted a lot of discussion at Senior Leadership Team meetings and for Governors since we were presented with them in June 2021, and I am pleased to say that our DEI Action Plan is already well under way.

For example, some of the work we have undertaken since the report was presented to Governors includes:

  • Appointing a DEI lead from the Senior Leadership Team and a designated Governor to lead on this area;
  • Establishing Diversity Officers on the Sixth Form Officer Team for the next academic year;
  • Ensuring we have a clear procedure for reporting, dealing with and recording racist incidents and that staff and students are aware of it;
  • Commissioning and delivering training for all staff on DEI, which took place in September 2021;
  • Reworking the English, History, and PSHE curricula and continuing to review their content. Other subjects, including Art and Music, have also made significant changes to their syllabus content. We know delivering a diverse and inclusive curriculum matters for our students and teachers and it matters to us as well;
  • Introducing the Race Equality Code of Conduct into PSHE lessons across all Key Stages.

It is our fervent hope that our focus on these important issues, underpinned by our Unitarian values of free thinking, acceptance and inclusivity, will ensure that we continue to build a Channing community free from stereotype and prejudice, where students and staff are supported to challenge injustice in all its guises.

Do please keep an eye on our website for details of more developments as they happen, and I will continue to keep the Channing community updated.

With warm regards

Lindsey Hughes

As part of its commitment to improving diversity, equality and inclusion and on the recommendation of the school’s DEI steering group, the library carried out an audit of its collection and other aspects of its service between November 2021 and August 2022. The librarians and four pupil volunteers analysed reading lists and collection data and carried out a student and staff survey.

Pupils analysed the following reading lists to suggest new books to for the library collection, which were then ordered:

A Year 9 pupil also carried out a survey of student and staff views of the diversity of the library. Despite acknowledging that a lot of authors are ‘white men’, survey participants felt that more could be done by the library to represent diversity in the school and society more widely. A third said they would go to the library more if they knew it had a more diverse book collection and almost half said a more diverse book collection would make them more interested in reading.

Random samples of the library’s fiction collection and new books bought in the last year were analysed to see how far they met certain criteria for diversity. This analysis showed that the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and Person of Colour) demographic is better represented than other marginalised demographics in the library’s collection but that all of these demographics could be better represented. There were no books with disabled authors or featuring disabled main characters, or books with neurodivergent authors or featuring neurodivergent main characters. Although the lack of diversity in publishing is a factor in this situation, the library needs to make more active efforts to seek out diverse books, for example by following the Jhalak Prize and Diverse Book Awards and seeking out advice from booksellers, charities and other libraries.

The audit also found that author visits could be used more effectively to promote diverse books. However, reading lists, displays and reading challenges are already being used effectively to this end, with the caveat that pupils need to be made more aware of how reading lists on the library catalogue can aid discovery and browsing of diverse books.

There are limitations to the audit, for example the size of the survey sample was relatively small. However, it provides a good starting point and from now on diversity auditing will be carried out each year to keep up scrutiny and support of the library’s work in this area.

Our stance on Antisemitism

Some of you may have heard about the appalling antisemitic graffiti found in the student toilets at lunchtime on Thursday 2 November 2023. We take the matter very seriously and have reported it to the police and the CST (Community Security Trust) and are undertaking our own internal investigation.

We are reproducing here the text of the letter that Mrs Hughes sent to parents.  We have reminded the whole school that antisemitism is abhorrent, unacceptable and will not be tolerated.  It has no place in our school and runs counter to the school’s long standing Unitarian ethos of tolerance and mutual respect.

All of us in the school community are working hard, with the support of external organisations, to ensure that such an incident is not repeated in the future.

Dear Parents,

I am deeply saddened to be writing to you this afternoon to let you know that a piece of antisemitic graffiti was found in one of the student toilets at lunchtime today. As you would expect, we acted swiftly as soon as we were aware of it, ensuring no more students had access to the bathroom and removing the graffiti immediately.

Nonetheless, a number of students saw what had been written and this has had an impact on the school community this afternoon. Some students have been understandably shocked and upset; we have reassured them that it is being dealt with and reminded them of the places and people to which they can go for support. Our pastoral team has already reached out to several individuals.

Regrettably there have also been some who have been hyped up by the drama of rumours and gossip. We have been quick to remind them how upsetting this will be for many members of our school community, whether or not they are directly impacted by the current situation in Israel and Gaza.

I am mindful that some of your children will return home this afternoon entirely unaware of what has happened, although I am sure that the rumours will start to fly once their phones have come out of their Yondr pouches. I know that others are already devastated about something like this happening in our school community – as am I.

I will be speaking to the whole school tomorrow morning to reiterate unequivocally that antisemitism is abhorrent, unacceptable and will not be tolerated. It has no place in our school and I am personally horrified that any student should have expressed such a view, and in this way. While we are unable to identify the author of this graffiti, I will make clear that I expect them to contemplate their actions and urge them to come clean about their involvement.

I have no doubt that you will share my outrage and unhappiness at this situation and please rest assured that every adult in the school community will be working to ensure that this cannot happen again. I am also aware that you may feel in need of support for your child at this time and, using our new link with the organisation Tooled Up, share this resource which I hope you may find useful.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or any of my senior team if you have any concerns or feel that your child needs any additional support from us at this time.

With my best wishes,

Lindsey Hughes


We are proud members of the Schools Inclusion Alliance

We are proud members of the Schools Inclusion Alliance

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Chatting with Channing

In this episode we’re talking about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with students Aliya and Bea. They’re about to talk to us about why this is such an important topic, what it means to be a DEI Officer, what they’re working on at the moment and what else they’re involved in at Channing.