Beaulieu College is a diverse school with staff and pupils from diverse backgrounds and identities. Values of tolerance, respect and appreciation make up a core part of our policy and vision. We embrace our diversity and we recognise that it must be actively nurtured, not just accepted in principle.
For this reason, we have developed a Thinking Space programme at the school that tackles the complex issues around diversity and upskills pupils in the key area of civil discourse. Our curriculum includes workshops and discussions run by expert facilitators, as well as guest speakers, targeted skills training in negotiation and problem-solving, and celebrations of important occasions.
The Hidden Curriculum - Our Thinking Space Programme.
There is something called the ‘hidden curriculum’. The explicit, formal curriculum is whatever is taught and assessed in a school, but the hidden curriculum is made up of the beliefs and values that we communicate to pupils without discussion or thought. Say, for example, that a school spends a fortune of time and money on sport and a fraction of that on academics (not the case at our school). The hidden meaning is that sport is more important than academics. No one explains that, but it is instinctively understood by the school community. Or imagine that a school’s uniform policy, passed down through the generations, says girls can wear only skirts, not trousers - this communicates the idea that a female must look a particular way.The good news is that at Beaulieu College we work hard to make the hidden curriculum visible and encourage our pupils to interrogate ideas and values, under controlled conditions with expert guidance. We call this the Thinking Space programme. In this programme pupils are encouraged to talk about various issues that impact on their lives, including diversity. The emphasis is not on which ideas are better than other ideas, but on how to communicate with respect, honesty and logic. In that way we hope to build a connected community made up of diverse parts. We could summarise the programme with three words: interrogate, celebrate, connect.Today the Thinking Space programme is using a Vertical Tutor Group lesson (small groups of pupils gathered from all five grades) to focus on connection. Pupils will be introduced to the 2019 programme, take part in a short activity, agree on a set of rules for discussion, and also look at the Beaulieu College Origins Map. This was a symbolic world map that we compiled last year in which every pupil and staff member inserted two pins to indicate their maternal and paternal ancestries. The point the map makes is very clear: we come from different places but we are here under one roof, forging a common purpose. Ask your child how today went and encourage them to embrace the programme. The world needs thinking citizens who use critical thinking to interrogate ideas, and who aspire to connect with others. Our Thinking Space programme is our attempt to play our small but important part to meet that great need.