St Cecilia’s College in Derry, Northern Ireland identified a need to embed processes that would better support the students and staff within their organisation, with a specific need to provide improved learning and communications for students with dyslexia, as well as supporting students from diverse cultural backgrounds. The college sought support from Centre for Assessment to achieve BS76005: Valuing People through Diversity and Inclusion Standard.
This Standard offers an organisation the opportunity to gain both an internal and external perspective on their Diversity and Inclusion policies and practices, giving insight into how these may be developed or improved upon to the benefit of the organisation.
Martine Mulhern, College Principal said, “I have worked with CfA in the past and have always been impressed by the quality of their support and assessment processes.”
John Mulholland, one of CfA’s Lead Assessors for BS76005 was assigned to St Cecilia’s College to carry out the assessment. Martine said, “John reassured us and gave a more comprehensive understanding of the requirements of the Standard.”
Significant investments were made in staff development as a response to the changing needs of pupils, 14 staff – including the Principal, a Vice Principal, teachers and classroom assistants – all completed the OCR Level 5 Diploma in Teaching learners with dyslexia / specific learning difficulties.
Mrs Mulhern explained, “The make-up of the group demonstrates that all staff have a role to play in educating pupils and that the leadership team serve as role models, and practice what they preach. To support the strategy, mutually beneficial partnership arrangements were established, with a diverse range of organizations including Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum (BBHF).”
Bogside & Brandywell Health Forum (BBHF) is a community-led project, which has worked with St Cecilia’s College for over 7 years. Through the partnership with The Health Forum, St Cecilia’s College has created and sustained a caring and supportive environment for staff, pupils and their families, addressing inequalities experienced in this area and the wider Derry City area.
Mrs Mulhern added, “The partnership has also fostered the development of staff and their mental health and wellbeing. The benefits in terms of family sustainability, mental health and life opportunities far outweigh the investment made.”
The Valuing People through Diversity and Inclusion framework was used to benchmark processes, practices and performance both from an internal and external perspective. St Cecelia’s College embedded multicultural activities, through Shared Education and links to the North West Migrants Forum which increased students’ awareness of the social practices, values and belief systems of other cultures. These themes are now a major focus in the curriculum at the College.
Mrs Mulhern said, “Involvement in these activities has fostered positive self-esteem and prevents students from feeling isolated. It has nurtured respect, empathy and acceptance, promoting the interaction of children across differing ethnic backgrounds.”
St Cecilia’s also achieved the Investors in Pupils award and are finalists in Pearson’s School of the Year and Times Educational Supplement School of the Year. Additional monies have been secured to allow pupils of the College with dyslexia to develop resource materials for their peers. The bid was submitted by the College’s 6th year pupils, who will work with staff to develop high quality resources.
Mrs Mulhern explained, “We found the assessment process straightforward and easy to manage. We will continue to review and develop the policies and strategies related to the Standard.
Our assessor John was excellent! He was professional, encouraging and reassuring every step of the way. He also identified additional areas for us to consider developing as we move forward.
We have identified a team leader to take our work on diversity and inclusion forward. It will also form an integral part of our new 3 Year School Development Plan.”
To learn more about how BS76005, Valuing People through Diversity and Inclusion can benefit your organisation, visit https://www.centreforassessment.co.uk/all-services/valuing-people/bs76005-valuing-people-through-diversity-and-inclusion/