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Collaborating with Bold Voices

English Teacher Oliver Nicholson discusses the collaborative work Bryanston is doing with Bold Voices, and explains that although it’s hard hitting stuff and not always easy to talk about, it’s so important to have these conversations and especially while our pupils are at such a formative age…

Since September, all year groups here at Bryanston have attended workshops run by Bold Voices. The sessions discuss gender discrimination and gender-based violence. Pupils are exploring discriminatory behaviour such as sexist language and attitudes, considering how these might be harmful to others. We also talk about the shocking prevalence of gender-based violence and sexual assault in society. This is hard hitting stuff that isn’t necessarily easy to talk about, regardless of age. However, we feel strongly that it is important to have these conversations, particularly whilst our pupils are at such a formative age. The aim is for them to think about how they can treat each other with kindness and respect. In fact, it is not just pupils that are involved; staff have had workshops and talks on these issues too.

Our Bold Voices programme is designed to be far-reaching, empowering not only pupils and staff at the school, but also parents, neighbouring schools and the local and wider community. One crucial element of the programme is that it is led by pupils. We have around 30 Sixth Form pupils that have been selected as ‘ambassadors’ and act as role models for the younger pupils during the workshops. Our ambassadors have had additional training in order to help take the lead.

Sixth Form pupils pictured with Bold Voices founder, Natasha Eeles

So, what did we cover?

A lot: stereotypes, sexuality, intersectionality, name calling, challenging others and what to do when you’re not comfortable doing that… to name but a few topics.

What are some of things that we have learnt from the sessions so far?  

  • Pupils are ready to discuss, consider and contribute to discussions fully.
  • Teenagers often ask questions that adults would be reluctant to ask!
  • There’s sometimes not a ‘right answer’ and instead it’s a case of keeping an open mind.
  • Sixth formers work wonderfully well with younger pupils, providing contemporary perspectives that us old teachers can’t really match.
  • We now have a wonderful team of Ambassadors, ready to continue these conversations.

What’s next?

Working with students from The Blandford School, our team will help with workshops in local primary schools, present in school assemblies and hold regular meetings to ensure that what we have learnt with Bold Voices continues to have an impact next year and beyond. There are also plans to do some creative projects highlighting this project around the school – more on that to come.

And finally...

A memorable moment for me came when one of our Ambassadors was reflecting on their experience working with younger year groups, commenting: “I have been asked why I want to be an Ambassador, since I haven’t directly experienced gender discrimination. I told them that I know people that have been affected by it, so it affects me. Or even if they haven’t been affected yet, they might be in the future, so that’s why this interests me.”  This desire to help others and hope for a brighter future is something that unites all of our Ambassadors. We are so excited about continuing this project with them and the wider school community.

Tagged  Boys  Girls  Pastoral Care  Values