Community Relations, Equality and Diversity
Community relations within education should help young people to gain an appreciation and understanding of their own tradition, a respect for others, and an appreciation of the importance of equality.
The role of Community Relations in education is to help build a shared and safe society which challenges sectarianism and discrimination in all its forms. Given the increasingly diverse nature of society, St. Mary’s understands that schools have a responsibility to contribute to the building of a fair, tolerant and harmonious society which is free from prejudice, discrimination and conflict.
St. Mary’s is an inclusive and inviting school which welcomes people from all backgrounds, cultures and traditions. A range of minority groups are represented within the student and staff population and we value such diversity within our school community. We aim to create warm, caring and positive relationships between all members of the school community while promoting good relations in the wider social context.
As a school, we are committed to the principle of equality for all learners regardless of age, gender, disability, race or religion. We seek to challenge prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination, and foster positive attitudes and good relations between different groups, both within and beyond school.
We promote respect for difference and recognise the rights of each individual person. We strive to maintain a cohesive school community where everyone feels a sense of belonging and value.
AS A SCHOOL, WE AIM TO:
- ensure that pupils have an understanding of and respect for the rights, equality and diversity of all without discrimination;
- educate pupils to live and participate in a changing world, so that they value and respect difference and engage positively with it
- enable pupils to develop mutual understanding, as well as recognition of and respect for difference;
- equip pupils with the skills, attitudes and behaviours to contribute to the building of a society where equality and diversity are valued and relations within and between communities are strong;
- enable pupils to be self-aware and to understand their own values and beliefs; and
- meet the needs of all learners, without exception.
In St. Mary’s, issues connected to community relations, equality and diversity are explored through curricular and extra-curricular activities. For example, at Key Stage 3, Local and Global Citizenship, as part of Learning for Life and Work, provides pupils with the opportunity to explore the range and extent of diversity in both local and global societies. It includes four strands:
- Diversity and Inclusion;
- Human Rights and Social Responsibility; and
- Equality and Social Justice;
- Democracy and Active Participation.
At each Key Stage, pupils have opportunities to experience meaningful contact with people from a diverse range of backgrounds through our participation in many initiatives such as:
- Shared Education through the Magherafelt Learning Partnership;
- Queen’s University Sharing Education Programme;
- Cinemagic Reel Frontiers Project;
- Connecting Classrooms Project;
- Saphara Project;
- Dissolving Boundaries Programme;
- Spirit of Enniskillen Programme;
- Modern Foreign Languages Educational Visits; and
- International Dimension Activities.
In 2013, St. Mary’s, in association with NEELB, undertook a project to raise awareness of and celebrate cultural diversity within the school community. A group of Cultural Ambassadors, representing various minority groups within St. Mary’s, worked together to plan and co-ordinate the project which included activities such as food-tasting, music workshops and a survey of cultures and ethnicities present in St. Mary’s. In this way, members of the school community are encouraged to become actively involved in creating the vision of being a culturally inclusive school.