We recognise that, in order to fulfil our educational mission, everyone in our community – our students, our staff, and everyone in our current and prospective families – should be able to see themselves reflected in the learning at Halcyon. Beyond this, in order to produce empowered IB citizens who are prepared to use their unique potential to “create a better world”, we must also ensure that our curriculum is reflective of all experiences and voices – including those that are often unheard, or have been historically overlooked.
As an IB school, we have always sought to deliver a curriculum that reflects a diversity of voices and historical perspectives – the International Baccalaureate learning framework supports this. We must continue to take a thoughtful and open approach to how we implement this responsibility in practice. As an international school in London, this also means ensuring that our learning is rooted in local contexts. In a hugely diverse city, we must continue to investigate and reflect on the local and global contexts that form the background to our learning. We continue to be ready to question assumptions, systems and ideas; to embrace different ways of understanding the world; and to take a stand against racism and any other form of discrimination.
We continue to take action to ensure that our curriculum is reflective of the diversity of culture, history, and voices which enhance learning experiences on both a global and local level, and we have provided some examples of student work below. It is important that our approach to diversifying our curriculum is visible to you, and we welcome thoughts and feedback from our community. Our students have a strong voice in shaping how we define our approach to learning, and we have also provided a brief insight into some student-led initiatives which reflect our community’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
In reviewing our teaching and learning, we must also be prepared to scrutinise ourselves: to be able to, as individuals and as a community, talk openly about the ways in which our preconceptions about learning and about one another can be a reflection of ideas and assumptions which might otherwise go unchallenged. As educators, we are taking steps to make progress on our personal journeys in a variety of ways, following a programme of intercultural competence training.
Here is a summative overview of some of the actions our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion sub-committees are taking. These steps have been reported, documented, and evaluated in an internal review process, which is supported by our staff Intercultural Development Inventory training.
Each subject team at Halcyon has reviewed their curriculum to ensure that our classrooms are inclusive and that our teachers are building best practice to ensure that every IB learner can both relate learning to their own experiences and explore various perspectives on their world. This includes, for example, using the classroom to explore local histories and figures of cultural change in London, as well as the wider world. Read more about what this looks like below.
Listening to the experiences of current families, and researching different models and approaches, the committee has already made changes to application, enquiry, and visit forms to ensure that Halcyon does its best to be inclusive of all backgrounds and identities. The Admissions Policy will be audited and reviewed during the current school year, as will all outward-facing communications, including our website and social media.
With a DEI focus, our Human Resources committee has completed a review of the our recruitment data collection process, confirming adherence to legal and discretional requirements, and completed an audit of the Recruitment Policy to be aligned to both non-statutory as well as statutory guidance. In order to effectively ensure the implementation of a clear and consistent policy which supports applications from a diverse pool of candidates, the Committee is currently undertaking a review of language used in our policy and job descriptions with an external DEI specialist.
Grade 9 classes sought to explore Earth’s presentation in the media by researching a range of global perspectives on human relationships with nature. First, the class looked at key quotations from across human cultures – from The Lankavatara Sutra to The Bible to the World Wildlife Fund website – that dealt with our relationship to our environment. From these quotations, they were able to create different models of hierarchies communicating the power relationships between humans and nature. In one model, students found that humans were presented as ‘above’ the natural world, using it for their needs, whereas the other model presented an image where humans were intertwined with the natural world. Students were then able to discuss their differing views on nature in a constructive way through these shared worldviews. You can read some of their writing here.
Our Grade 11 Economics students each produced two case studies of the impact of COVID-19 on developed and developing countries. This project resulted in presentations which were extensively researched, provoking their classmates to consider the complex details of the pandemic’s economic impact in Rwanda, Bosnia, the USA, France and Kenya. Each individual presenter developed thoughtful policy solutions to the economic malaises in their country of study, many of which touched upon hotly-debated economic ideas of today. Luca, for example, proposed a youth training program to combat the high level of youth unemployment in Bosnia – which stands at over 50% – and, considering country’s high national debt, suggested Modern Monetary Theory as a means of financing the programme.
In science, Grade 9 critically analysed global healthcare data to form a greater understanding of the role of bias in medicine across the world. Beginning the lesson by investigating graphs portraying differences in cancer rates and treatment in developed and developing countries, the students discussed both social and scientific reasons for discrepancies in healthcare. The students completed the session by reading 5 related articles of their choice to develop their knowledge.
Read more: Science Curriculum
In English, students used narrative techniques to explore power from their own unique perspectives and experiences. Their approach was informed by an exploration of the way in which writers use perspectives to convey complexities in power relationships, which enabled students to think about how power can be variably present in multiple areas of daily life – including technology, communication, memory, and more. Read their stories here.
Read more: Languages & Literature Curriculum
Our Grade 12 Mandarin students took part in a trip to watch the play “The King of Hell’s Palace”, a story which recounts the experience of Hepatitis and HIV epidemics in China in the 1990s by zooming in on the health industry in the Henan province – the centre of one of the most troubling medical scandals in history. After viewing the play, one of our students described Shuping Wang – represented in the play by protagonist ‘Yin-Yin’ – as a “key medical and political figure” who, by exposing transfusions of HIV/Hepatitis infected plasma, risked her life and career. The visit to Hampstead Theatre allowed the students students to understand the nuances of studying their chosen language’s culture. (Art: Ronald Slabbers)
In Hyde Park, students from Grades 6 and 7 separated into small groups to engage in some team-building activities and discuss questions about our school culture together. Students reflected on the following question: “What does our school love the most?” This prompted students to think about the different meanings that ‘school’ has for them: a question aimed at supporting students in building a shared culture with one another while sharing their own ideas, cultural perspectives, and backgrounds. As a continuation of this discussion – and after hearing perspectives from spokespersons in other teams – each group of students collaboratively developed answers to a further question: “What should our school love the most?” We hope that Grade 6 and 7 found this experience insightful.
Joined online by Southbank International School, the London Nautical School, and Instituto Español Cañada Blanch (VCB), students debated a range of resolutions surrounding the main theme of ‘Accessibility to Education’, including improving teacher gender ratios in schools, supporting university graduates with entry-level work programmes, and putting in place quotas for gender balance in the workforce.
Our Global Issues Network team designed an in-school exhibition to raise awareness about the Rohingya Genocide.