A Message from the Head Teacher Regarding Racism

Dear Parent/Carer,

We have recently been made aware of letters circulating on social media of allegations of racism against members of St Augustine’s staff and other schools within Edinburgh.

St Augustine’s RC High School is an inclusive school community with pupils from many different backgrounds and beliefs. 53% of our Young People are EAL students and 35% BAME. It is this diversity which we are very proud of and have publicly celebrated for a number of years. Our TRUE Colours (Tackling Racism, Uniting Everyone), Justice and Peace groups, as well as other staff and pupils lead various assemblies and events celebrating key themes and significant historical milestones throughout the year. In 2015, a large number of our pupils produced “Our Scotland”, a multi-media experience which celebrated the multi-cultural history of Scotland going back 2000 years and acknowledged the huge contribution all nations have made to our society, and to our school in particular.

We also work closely with our partner organisations ELREC, Shakti, Saheliya, Feniks Counselling, SCOREscotland, Bemis, ASL teams and EAL services.

As a Catholic school, we actively promote Gospel values of equality and respect, whilst ensuring the dignity and wellbeing of all is at the heart of our school ethos. Our recently re-devised Vision, Values and Aims co-created with pupils, parents and staff demonstrate our school guiding principles of PRAISE (Potential, Respect, Achievement, Inclusion, Support and Equality) which we strive to live out each day.

In our school curriculum, and specifically as part of the RE, PSE and Social Studies programmes, pupils learn about equality, inclusion, diversity and human rights, particularly in respect to protected characteristics. These lessons are based on promoting positive relationships ensuring tolerance and peaceful conflict resolution.

Over the past year, we have also been working towards the Rights Respecting School Award.

We treat allegations of racial abuse very seriously and in line with the authority’s and school’s Equalities Policy. Any allegations which are made are fully investigated and will continue to be so.

If any pupil, parent or carer wants to get in touch to discuss the current issues, please email me or call the school office.

M McGee
Head Teacher

Please find below a statement from the City of Edinburgh Council which all schools have been asked to share to clearly state our position as staff working within Children and Families

Black Lives Matter
Recent events in the US, in particular the shocking death of George Floyd, and the global response are shining a light again on the harmful and persistent issue of institutionalised racism. We fully recognise that it is no less an issue in the UK and Scotland. We have a list of similar deaths of black citizens, and we have witnessed the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

We are heartened by the concern and support expressed by pupils, parents and staff from across our learning communities in recent days. We are all rightly asking what more we can and should do to support our Black, Asian and minority ethnic pupils and colleagues.

We re-affirm and strengthen our commitment to confronting and addressing racism and discrimination in all its forms through strong anti-racist leadership, teaching and youth work. Our recent engagement with BAME young people and partner organisations has shown that there is much more that we can do and we will continue to listen and learn. We have started by implementing a revised anti-bullying procedure supported by training for senior leaders and pupil Equalities groups and we are working to ensure that Black history and its role in our city is a core part of a decolonised and inclusive curriculum. We will increase training for all school staff and have set up a working group as part of a national commitment to increasing diversity in the teaching workforce.

We believe that our schools have a vital role to play in tackling racism and creating a city where all are treated with dignity and respect. We want all our children and young people to thrive and lead in a diverse and complex world. We do not underestimate the challenge of this deep-rooted problem. We are fully committed to making a difference, harnessing the compassion, energy and creativity of our children, young people, families and staff to make Edinburgh a city where there is no place for discrimination or injustice.

On behalf of,
The City of Edinburgh Council Equalities Steering Group (Education)

Kind regards

Lorna Sweeney
(Chair) Equalities Steering Group (Education)

Annemarie Procter
C&F Equalities Lead