Respect is a core value of our community. When we’re at our best, it’s alive in every interaction and decision. At the same time, we know that we have much to learn, including what it means to be a fully equitable, diverse, and inclusive community. We’ve been working hard on that, and this month the EDI Advisory Committee concluded its initial work and submitted a report to the Board of Governors with a total of 31 recommendations under six primary areas:
- Implementation and Oversight
- Policy and Procedures
- Student Life/Curriculum
- Facilities and Infrastructure
- Professional Development
- Human Resources
“On behalf of the broader school community, we are most grateful to the Advisory Committee, particularly our guide, Moussa Magassa, for everything they have done over two years of committed research and work,” says Head of School Mark Turner. “The school now has a clear agenda to build further momentum in our quest to deliver our core value of respect for all people, in all places, at all times.”
We’d like to thank everyone that took part in this journey of discovery, which included 750 survey responses and a series of focus groups and individual consultations. We have come away with a lot to think about, and although there are specific areas of our practice that require concrete improvement, we also heard that there is a strong, general sense of pride in our school.
With these recommendations foremost in mind, the school will now move into creating an implementation strategy. This will ensure that policies, resources, and points of accountability support our aspirations as a community. From our journey, it’s clear that in many cases there is a need for better communications, while in other cases we need to look deeply into structures, policy and practice. The Board will delve more deeply into the recommendations at its fall gathering, while the Senior Leadership Team will continue to deepen work already in progress.
“On behalf of the Board of Governors, many thanks to the Advisory Committee for your collective efforts, strong energy for natural justice, and countless hours of work to present your recommendations that will be priority focus for our discussions at our Board Retreat in October,” says board chair David Longridge. “In the meantime, we will be encouraging the school to move forward with initiatives and start the process of benchmarking.”
The process of developing our strategy over the past two years has been in parallel with ongoing tangible action. We’ve recently had a series of workshops with Ambit Consulting, empowering our K-12 staff with better understanding of gender diversity, and practised scenarios that are directly in line with several of the recommendations in the report. We’ve also had anti-racism workshops for teachers, updated the student uniform policy and are actively engaged in the ERASE Bullying program. Our Indigenous Scholar will remain connected to SMUS for another year, and you can explore more about that program in our latest edition of School Ties.
It’s important to remember that this type of work has been in progress at SMUS in varying degrees since our amalgamation. Chaplain Keven Fletcher shares an example of how we’ve navigated the last 15 years of this path through Chapel in a recent article in Connections magazine.
We are committed to keeping the community well-informed as we move forward. Updates on our work will continue to be available on our website, and we look forward to sharing more with you again in the fall.