Learning to make a difference

Herschel Community update on media coverage this week

Herschel Girls School

Posted December 19, 2021

In view of the recent media coverage which aired on eNCA this week, we want to share the following with our Herschel community.  

The investigation into historic cases of racism (See July Correspondence Independent Inquiry communication JULY COMMUNICATION 2021) at Herschel has been followed by further investigations into policies and procedures to ensure that such experiences are not continued at Herschel. (See 15 December Correspondence HERSCHEL WHOLE SCHOOL COMMUNICATION 15 DECEMBER 2021). As a school, we foster an ethos of learning and growing understanding that there were, are and will likely be incidences of discrimination in any school community. While there is an existing comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Policy (Anti-Discrimination Policy) implemented in 2007 and updated in 2019 and further in 2021), we have a triage of policies in place which are being implemented accordingly. These include a comprehensive, holistic Anti-Discrimination Policy, the Anti-Racism Statement produced in April 2021 in response to the #yousilenceweamplify social media campaign and the updated Herschel Code of Conduct for Senior School and Preparatory School students detailing disciplinary procedures and actions. These are aligned and complementary.

Furthermore, there has been a concerted effort to identify the areas of school life requiring substantive focus, in order to eradicate all forms of discrimination. Educational workshops and interventions have been convened – as well as facilitated discussions across all staff cohorts at school – to upskill teachers and students, with an aim to inculcate awareness and so to create a more conscious community at Herschel with a tangible ethos of equity and belonging.

With respect to students, past and present, who have suffered traumatic experiences as communicated via the #yousilenceweamplify social media campaign, we acknowledge that the independent inquiry has taken some time. This does not in any way diminish the intention to investigate fully and to put in place preventative and supportive measures. Engagement with students and alumni whose experiences we have come to know about; has already started and will continue.

Parent education is an important part of the holistic approach to creating greater social awareness at Herschel and the Parent Hub, together with facilitated training in Conscious Conversations, has proven valuable in providing relevant resources and a practical toolkit. This will be a continued focus in 2022 in line with nurturing greater social cohesion at the school. We want our parent community to be central to the transformation, equity and belonging journey.

In January 2022, Council and Manco Strategic Planning sessions will focus on an action plan and timelines for the implementation of the recommendations arising from the investigation. Core policy updates, a review of school governance (including a workshop with Council and School Management Team (MANCO), and the revision of the memorandum of incorporation) are currently being addressed and progress and respective content will be reviewed at the strategic planning sessions.

We are happy to announce the following new Council members and welcome their expertise and input into key areas of governance: Prof Sarah Howie, Mr Dawood Khan (PA Representative), Ms Siza Mazibuko (PA Representative), Ms Nokukhanya Mncwabe and Ms Emmanuelle Tshala (OHA Representative). They join the current members; Adv. Tracey Dicker (Council Chair) Ms Tumelo Baloyi (Council Deputy Chair), Mr Robert Gilmour-Dow, Dr Tarron Grimmbacher (House Reps Representative), Ven. Mark Long (Archbishop’s Representative on Council), Ms Kristina Miller (OHA Representative) and Dr Neville Wellington. We would like to applaud the contributions of the following Councillors who retired or stepped down in 2021: Mr Saul Berman, Mr Stuart Harrison, Dr Aaron Ndhluni and Ms Tebogo Skwambane.

As a reminder, please do make use of the existing channels of communication – both pastoral and academic – as well as the anonymous or in person stopracism@herschel.org.za email address should there be any matters of concern. Further to this, we have an open-door policy and welcome direct engagement with parents, Old Herschelians and students.

With kind regards,
Heather Goedeke