Ponsbourne St Mary’s C of E, Hertfordshire, Year 5/6 began their social action project by conducting research into the make-up of their community – including how far pupils travelled in to school, where their families originated from, and who else lived in their village. Realising how many different backgrounds, ages, and abilities were represented in their community, they chose ‘diversity’ as the overall theme for their project.
The children worked in groups to come up with different ideas for exploring and celebrating the diversity of their community, including sending messages to isolated residents, coordinating a local poster campaign to help save the environment, and setting up a scheme to help older people get out and about. They interviewed their families about their understanding of diversity, and the head teacher to find out her views too.
“Nothing happens unless people are willing to take action.” (year 6 pupil)
Following a series of democratic votes the children decided on several smaller courses of action that would collectively help promote and celebrate diversity in their community:
- Raise awareness of the cultural heritage of pupils in their school with a fact file on pupils in their class
- Organise a fundraising event to raise money to buy more diverse books for their school library
- Create a poster to go onto the school website promoting and celebrating diversity
- Survey local businesses to find out what provision they have in place to cater for people with different needs.
The children organised a sponsored run, creating both the sponsor form and letter home for parents themselves, as well as taking part in the event. They wrote to the LEA to ask if they had recommendations for books to buy and were delighted to receive a reply to their letter. They also contacted the local book shop who were attending Open Evening to ask for their advice and received both a reply and an invitation to help out at the book fair itself. Additionally, the children surveyed teachers within school about the materials they used in class to promote diversity and wrote a letter to the school governors asking for their thoughts, which opened up additional conversations around the representation of careers seen as traditionally ‘male’ or ‘female’ in story books, and traditional family units. Separately children wrote to four local businesses asking about accessibility and received friendly and positive replies.
The class want their project to be the beginning of a longer piece of work improving and celebrating diversity in their community. As they are a mixed year 5/6 class the new year 6 will continue the work in September –initially they hope to host a visit from the school governor with responsibility for diversity, find out more about people in their village by perhaps hosting a tea party for them, and spend some time looking at how having a disability could impact children in school.
“The project was a really good way to promote the importance of children being able to make a difference and take action…made me really think about how useful it would be to explore the range of diversity within the class at the start of the year and see how aspects of our curriculum e.g. history, geography, might be tailored to include aspects of individual children’s backgrounds and their knowledge of different kinds of disabilities.” (Year 6 class teacher)
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