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A School in Hackney

A School in Hackney

When my son started school I was amazed at how ethnically and culturally diverse the school is considering its small size and small catchment area. What was equally amazing, not surprising though, is how beautifully and how quickly the children blended, formed friendships, and enjoyed each other’s company. The apparent differences made and make no difference to them. They were not and are not a divisive factor.

Growing up in a country where racial hierarchy is the norm and the law, I am impressed and reassured by the culture of inclusivity the school promotes. Children at the school experience difference as something to celebrate, encourage and learn about and from. In the Black History Month, for example, children have actively learnt about the Windrush, the Caribbean countries, their culture(s), food and music. Children from my sons’s class, despite their young age, were encouraged to go around the school’s playground at lunch break and ask other children and teachers whether they, their parents or grandparents came from the Caribbeans. They took photographs of those who said yes and exhibited them at the interactive Windrush exhibition in school. Parents were invited to the exhibition and children and parents got to have a taste of Caribbean food, learn about Caribbeans settlement in London, and the different countries they came from. The series of photographs is part of an ongoing project celebrating the school’s culture of inclusivity, cosmopolitanism, diversity and what the cultural theorist Paul Gilroy calls planetary humanism.