A COLWYN BAY school is one of the most proactive in Wales for inclusion and diversity.
Ysgol Eirias has implemented plans and held educational sessions and workshops throughout the academic year, focused on engaging pupils, working closely with community organisations and stakeholders, and communicating positively with parents and carers on a wide range of issues.
Understanding themes centred around racism, gender, LGBTQ+, sexual health and more have been driven by Citizenship Coordinator, Haylie Zachara.
The school’s Diversity team includes a group of learners from Year 7 and above, who meet regularly to champion equal rights, present assemblies and conduct student surveys and competitions to design posters, raising awareness and fostering a positive culture.
Among their achievements were a place on the Young Ambassadors Project for Show Racism the Red Card Wales – where they received a Leader of Now accolade – alongside the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner and representatives from the Children’s Commissioner for Wales’s office.
“The reaction has been heartening, pupils and their families are supportive, and we’ve had a lot of engagement,” said Haylie.
“In line with Welsh Government targets we are working together with parents and our community, so the learners are prepared for life after school with a more rounded, worldly view – we want them to be global citizens.
“As they get older, we look at things more deeply, it’s all developmentally appropriate and we celebrate equality and acceptance to provide them with a welcoming, supportive environment.”
Ysgol Eirias celebrates and marks national and international dates of importance via a series of events and campaigns, including Black History Month, International Women’s Day, Pride Month and more.
Included in the curriculum via RSE, Haylie and fellow teachers have woven crucial topics into existing areas of learning.
“Staff have been incredible, presenting their own sessions on deaf awareness week and sign language, disability rights, refugee week, holocaust memorial week and other areas,” she said.
Other highlights of 2022/23 included the creation of Clwb Enfys – an LGBTQ+ organisation which already has more than 60 members – and being one of just 21 schools in Wales to form part of Manchester-based The Proud Trust’s Rainbow Flag Award programme.
Haylie and colleagues are planning to do even more in the coming years to support students and their community, in Colwyn Bay and beyond.
“We have been training staff and also trying to signpost them, and our pupils, to the support and guidance that’s available,” said Haylie.
“There is a lot of misinformation out there on the internet and social media, and we know the pupils are going to try and find a way to get answers so we would rather they were given factual information directly from the school.
“Clwb Enfys is an example of that, it’s a network of support and highlights that we are here to provide a warm, welcoming environment for all learners.
“We want everyone in the school to be accepting, creating a cohesive culture where even if we are different, there is respect – we are so proud to have made such strides toward that this year.”
For more news and information from Ysgol Eirias, visit www.eirias.co.uk.