Students at St Mary’s Catholic College, Wallasey, have been working together to improve diversity in education.
Formed in January 2022 in partnership with the University of Liverpool and Shaping Futures, part of the Office for Students funded Uni Connect programme, the school’s Diversity Group was created in response to pupil voice that highlighted barriers that existed for some groups of students.
The group is made up of 14 students from various backgrounds across multiple year groups who are keen to make a difference in their school and the wider community.
Loud Speaker, an organisation that aspires to give young people the confidence to achieve their goals, has been supporting the group through the journey, delivering workshops, and encouraging them to make the most of each opportunity.
The Diversity Group meet regularly on a Friday afternoon with Mr George and Lydia Radican from the University of Liverpool, to take part in sessions that explore the university’s Race Equality Charter submission to Advance HE, Guild, and campaigning, in addition to different cultures and role models to inspire all members of the group.
Another aim of the group is to inspire young people to aspire to greatness in the future and provide a pathway to university. The work with the University of Liverpool has included visits to the campus, meeting students and participating in a Black History Month Liverpool walking tour.
During a recent visit to London, the young people explored the Black Cultural Archives in Windrush Square and learnt about the history of people of African and Caribbean descent in the UK. This gave the group a chance to visit a variety of exhibitions and hold impactful conversations with one another and staff members at the centre, thinking about further work they can do as part of the group.
On Monday 19 June, students also visited the University of York to meet with the York Black Access Team to talk about access into university for minority students and participate in a workshop with Loud Speaker.
These visits allow the St Mary’s Diversity Group to further educate themselves about diversity and barriers in education and hear from a range of voices, particularly those in the university context.
Parents and carers are also encouraged to get involved in the work of the Diversity Group. A meeting was previously held for them to discuss the project and contribute their own ideas to students and staff, and the school plans to hold similar meetings in the future.
The next steps for the group include discussions with the senior leadership team to look at the school curriculum and policies and how to raise awareness of their work to positively affect all pupils across the school.
As the school year comes to an end, all involved are looking forward to learning more next year and continuing the work that they have already started. They are also hoping to grow and involve other schools across the Holy Family Catholic Multi Academy Trust, delivering talks to the primary and secondary schools and inspiring the formation of groups across the Trust.
Mr George said, “I have never been prouder of a group of young people. The work they have already done is fantastic, and they are about to make a huge impact for years to come for future students coming to St Mary’s like themselves.”
Headteacher of St Mary’s Catholic College, Mr Kevin Maddocks, commented, “We are incredibly proud of the passion shown by our school’s Diversity Group. They have been working hard on this project and have already made a really positive impact.
“It is important that all students feel represented both within the school and the wider community. They hold a real presence in St Mary’s, and we are looking forward to continuing the group next year and involving our students as we ensure that our school is a safe, diverse, and comfortable environment for our young people to thrive.”