Dig deeper, look closer, think bigger: Black History Month at QE

Dig deeper, look closer, think bigger: Black History Month at QE

Queen Elizabeth’s School marked Black History Month with a diverse range of special activities both inside and outside of the classroom that drew lessons from the past, while also saluting those building a path today towards a better future.

One undoubted highlight was the online assembly given to the Sixth Form by Roni Savage ­(pictured above) – engineering geologist, founder of a multi-million pound construction industry consultancy, multiple award-winner…and a QE mum.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “We sought to provide lots of different opportunities during Black History Month to ensure that our boys could, in the words of a BHM slogan, ‘dig deeper, look closer, think bigger’, coming up with an array of innovative ideas. These ranged from our Lower School History Raiders group researching ancient Black kingdoms and civilisations, to Year 7 PE lessons promoting sports in which athletes have either faced racism or have changed the world due to their participation, such as basketball, boxercise and indoor athletics.

“I am especially grateful to Mrs Savage, who, as a Black woman working at a high level as an entrepreneur in construction, is a true pioneer in her industry, with an impressive list of achievements and accolades to her name. She has certainly proved people wrong who doubted her because of her race, gender and age.

“And she inspired our sixth-formers with her injunction to ‘stand up, stand out, stand tall’ and her insistence that ‘there are no limits to what you can achieve’ with hard work and talent.”

Mrs Savage, whose son, Jayden, is in Year 13, is the founder of Jomas Associates, a large engineering and environmental consultancy, and Policy Chair for Construction within the Federation of Small Businesses. She is a Fellow of both the Royal British Institute of Architects and the Institute of Civil Engineering, and is on the current UK Powerlist of Britain’s most influential people of African/Caribbean heritage.

Her message was that diversity is vital to the capacity, capability and sustainability of all sectors, but that to achieve it, the status quo, with its harmful stereotypes, must be challenged.

Here is a selection of the many activities and initiatives that took place at the School as part of this year’s Black History Month:

  • A discussion in MedSoc (Medical Society) of the work of Malone Mukwende, who as a second-year medical student at St George’s, University of London, developed a book to help doctors diagnose skin rashes and diseases on black and brown skin, addressing decades of racial bias in medical education;
  • The Year 9 Shakespeare Film Club watching Othello and discussing the racial issues in the play, as raised in a British Library article;
  • Publication of a special Black History Month (and COP26) issue of the Economics department’s magazine, Econobethan;
  • Cancellation of all Music rehearsals one lunchtime, with the pupil team from the Music Enrichment Society instead giving a presentation about Black musicians. Pictured, above, are boys giving a special performance ahead of the talk;
  • Year 9 had a special Depicting Jesus Philosophy, Religion & Society (PRS) lesson, which focused on different representations of Jesus, including those from the Ethiopian Church and Rastafari traditions, and on the use of images of white Jesus for imperialist ends;
  • Year 8 geographers started a new, permanent unit on Migration towards the end of October, with a first homework task linked to Black History Month.