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Armley school tackles hate and celebrates diversity

An Armley school has held a ‘diversity and unity day’ after parents felt unsafe and suffered racial abuse following the EU referendum last month.

Christ Church School, in Upper Armley, say the decision to exit the European Union had had a ‘negative impact’ on some local people.

School governor and Vicar of Christ Church, the Rev Arani Sen, said:

“Following the EU Referendum, parents of different ethnicities came into school and said they felt unsafe in their neighbourhood, as they’d been abused racially or told to ‘go home’. Some year 5 children had also picked up negative comments about other faiths outside school.”

He said acting head teachers, Deidre Brooks and Cat Barnes, decided to celebrate the diversity of the school and community by holding a ‘diversity and unity day’ with food, dance, music, art, dress and craft from diverse cultures. The day created an atmosphere of fun, global education and an ethos of openness and tolerance.

Activities involved making unity bunting,, to contribute to a ‘rainbow of hands’ and to create a poster or ‘zine’ on the theme of unity and paint a self portrait. Children were also invited to make mosaics which will be displayed in the school’s reflective garden in the autumn.

Rev Sen added:

“It was an inspirational day. There was a very happy atmosphere as the children and parents celebrated the cultural diversity of this parish.

“Visitors always comment on the children’s good behaviour and their respect for each other. Children from different faiths and backgrounds forge strong friendships and it is refreshing to see such a high level of community cohesion occurring naturally in the school.

“In the light of recent events year 5s also had a discussion with their teacher, and agreed that different faiths all live together happily and all are equal in the sight of God.”

Acting head Deidre Brooks said:

“We’re very glad that parents said they felt safe and comfortable in the school, they see it as an oasis of calm and acceptance.”

Famous alumni from Christ Church Upper Armley School include Alan Bennett and Barbara Taylor-Bradford.

Half the children have English as their second language, and 22% are from other faiths.

The Dispatch reported last week how hate crime in Armley was under-reported.

A version of this report first appeared on the Diocese of Leeds website.



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