Statement from the Treasurer – Christopher Steane
STATEMENT FROM THE TREASURER , CHRISTOPHER STEANE
The Council of Christ’s Hospital shares the desire of Old Blues and the wider CH community to
improve the lives of children at CH and acknowledges the urgency with which attention must be
given to challenging racism, both at CH and more widely. We understand that the lived reality of
being at Christ’s Hospital can have a significant impact and it is vital that the experiences and
concerns of our Black and ethnic minority pupils are heard, validated and acted upon. If this is not
happening or, worse, if problems have been dismissed, then that must change. It is our hope that
we can start a conversation that helps us all, even where this involves difficult and uncomfortable
reflections on our part. No progress can be made from within a comfort zone.
The real and different lived experiences of Black pupils should never be dismissed or treated as
less valuable, and we recognise well-founded concerns in British society that this often does
happen, including through unconscious bias. It is not the School’s desire to suppress opinions or
concerns. I hope to be able to demonstrate that it is the views of Black and other ethnic minority
pupils, staff and Old Blues which will underpin the School’s response to the changes which must
In that context, I am grateful for the actionable steps that some Old Blues have suggested and for
their generous offer of support in helping us to progress these. I would like to provide some
additional information about the School’s existing planning which the Head Teacher is steering with
Diversity training for pupils and staff. Council agrees that this can only be beneficial
and is exploring this provision as a priority.
Collaborative work with Old Blues of African/Afro-Caribbean heritage to develop a
means of providing Black pupils with mentoring and advocacy, particularly where
prejudice arises. This would be welcomed.
Examination of the School’s curriculum, Equality and Diversity Policy, behavioural
policies and diversity. The School is in the process, led by pupils, of establishing a
committee with a brief to cover equity/equality, diversity and inclusion. This will sit
alongside existing pupil-voice forums. The group working with teachers on this is made up
largely of Deputy Grecians and also includes this year’s Senior Grecian and Second
Monitor. There is flexibility in the brief but early discussion has included the following:
a) pupil membership;
b) the role of staff; and
c) the committee’s remit.
Recognising that this will be a pupil-led body, we will seek to ensure that the areas of
concern to Old Blues and current pupils are addressed by this committee and, where that
is not possible, to consider how Old Blues and specialist organisations might be able to
provide specific support.
Council agrees that it should aim for greater ethnic diversity in its membership. Like many
longstanding organisations the legal constitution of CH sets rules for the composition of its
governing body. Within these, Council will continue to seek to achieve greater diversity as soon
as possible. We will also quickly find a way to ensure improved oversight of these important issues.
This will either be by creating a committee for equality, diversity and inclusion, or by appointing a
Council Member with specific responsibility to engage with the School, as we currently do with
safeguarding. The issue needs to be addressed on a continuing and evolving basis, with the steps
noted here as a start.
We are determined to continue to improve a culture at the School in which racism and racial
prejudice are acknowledged and their origins and history understood, bringing a shared
commitment to counter them by all means available to us.
To this end, the first steps are being taken as follows:
1. Heads of various teaching departments have been tasked to ensure that Black British
history influences curricular development throughout the School. This includes ‘Religion
and Worldview’ and PSHE lessons. These will focus on the following themes (as a start):
a) addressing the challenges that are still faced today as well as historic racism;
b) explicitly teaching which words and phrases are racist and why and also examining
and understanding terms like ‘systemic racism’ and ‘white privilege’.
2. Focussed training on sensitising all staff to racially-loaded language, particularly in
relation to micro-aggression and racial stereotyping.
3. More Black and ethnic minority teachers and support staff to be recruited to the School.
4. Where and when possible, to engage with Old Blues of African and Caribbean heritage
to develop mentoring and, alongside it, awareness of racism and racial prejudice.
5. Black History Month will be inserted fully into the annual rhythms of whole-School events,
meetings and celebrations (e.g. incorporating film nights with Black film directors).
6. While we recognise that cultural celebrations do not counter unconscious bias or racism
alone, we are developing higher profile and greater support for the African-Caribbean
Society, including staff involvement, and for the pupil-led Gospel Choir.
I would like to thank all the Old Blues that have been in touch for their supportive engagement on
these critical issues and look forward to continued dialogue.