On February 11th, UK newspaper The Independent published “Special Measures” an article about the Victory Park Primary Academy, located in a disadvantaged area outside Birmingham. Victoria Park has 450 pupils school speaking, between them, more than 30 different home languages. In spite of the challenges, the British Minister of State for Schools has confirmed that it is among the top 100 primary performer schools in the country, in terms of the progress made by children between seven and 11. It has also gained international recognition on account if its diverse profile. “Children come to us from all four corners of the world. There are asylum seekers and refugees who have never been to school before”, says Andrew Morrish, Executive Head of the School. Rather than seeing diversity as a difficulty to overcome, the school chooses to celebrate it and one way it does that is by displaying in the main hall the different flags of the pupils’ countries of origin.
The Ashoka Foundation, an international network of social entrepreneurs, has awarded 130 schools around the world the “changemaker” status, including Victoria Park among the five in the United Kingdom. This status recognizes institutions that have “ceased to operate as examination factories and have embraced the development of skills such as empathy, leadership, team-work and creativity among their pupils”.
On the School’s website, the follow statement is made by the Head of the School: “We are lucky enough to welcome children to our school with a range of different needs and backgrounds from all corners of the globe. It is this mix that makes Victoria Park such a harmonious and happy place to learn”.
Furthermore, in an article published in 2014 at Warwick University, Lisa Worgan, Director of Curriculum at Victoria Park Academy, described how the curriculum at the school is organized through an approach of enterprise education, enabling students to “celebrate diversity and be proud of their own individualities as part of a multicultural community” among others approaches concerning leadership, high expectations and developing “ positive attitudes and values and show respect to others”.
According to the British Population Census in 2011, one-in-five people (20%) identified with an ethnic group other than White British compared with 13% in 2001. The population with ethnic background other than White (White British, White Irish and White Other) has doubled in size since 1991 from 3 to 7 million, while remaining a minority of the total population (14%).
The Victory Park Academy initiative, alludes to one of the fundamental components of Shared Societies Project, that ensuring an education system that offers equal opportunity for developing the knowledge, skills, capacities and networks necessary for children to become productive and engaged members of society. As reinforced by the article, the message of respect for difference and diversity strongly benefits all members of society.