Spotlight on E&D
Celebrating Interfaith Week
In partnership with Harlow Council, the Gibberd Gallery and Harlow Art Trust, we asked a group of our first year AS Level Photography students to produce a series of images on the subject of Quiet Reflection. Their wonderful photographs were displayed in Harlow College and the best three were chosen for display in the Gibberd Gallery at the Civic Centre in Harlow.
We want to raise awareness among our students of the importance of having a society that values different faiths, belief and non-belief, by engaging them in a search for images that would be meaningful to everyone.
The winning and commended photographs were announced on 20th November at the Gibberd Gallery as part of an Interfaith Lunch, held to celebrate the diversity of our community and bringing together various organisations and representatives from differing faith and belief groups from across the town.
As well as being displayed in the Gibberd Gallery over the next few weeks, copies of the photos will be hung in the office of Harlow College’s Principal, Karen Spencer. Karen requested them so that she can look at them when she feels the need of a moment of quiet reflection! Likewise, Linda Palling, Chair of Harlow Council, has asked if she can display some of the works in her office.
We've produced a short guide for the employers we work with. The guide aims to provide employers with a greater understanding of their rights and obligations under equality law and to encourage good practice in the workplace by increasing the accessibility of services and products for all people.
It was inspired by working with small and medium sized businesses, all at different stages of growth, who shared their experiences and learning whilst doing their best to meet their commitments under equality laws over recent years. The guide is actively being used as part of the apprenticeship sign-up pack for employers as well as generally as a part of employer engagement activities.
Multi-faith/Quiet Reflection Room – for Staff, Students and Visitors
We continue to provide a quiet space for our staff, students or visitors to go for prayer or reflection.
Addressing Gender Bias in Career Choices
One of our equality objectives is to actively break down the perception that careers are gender typical. This year we have run two specific projects to start addressing this issue.
Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths career pathways to young women
As part of a project in collaboration with local engineering company Applied Scintillation Technologies (AST), Harlow College and Essex County Council, the college has hosted four taster sessions for girls who have an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects. The project targets year nine female students who are interested in the STEM subjects and, over two years, involves them in:
- Awareness raising of STEM career opportunities for women
- Two taster sessions in STEM subjects with Harlow College
- Mentoring activities with AST staff
- HE STEM taster at the University of Essex
And in year two
- On-going mentoring
- STEM work experience opportunities
Each taster session ran over 2 consecutive Saturday mornings. The girls were encouraged to bring their along a parent/carers or a friend so that they could also learn more about the opportunities for women in the STEM field. The days consisted of talking about perceptions they have around STEM opportunities for women and engaged in some very lively and practical activities such as Bridge Building techniques- incorporating the use of Science and Maths. Each girl was given a STEM goody bag which included some STEM-based games to play with friends or siblings.
Comments from students and parents/carers & friends:
Day 1 bridge building/tower problem solving activities
“We got a full experience of the STEM projects and enjoyed both the problem solving and team work activities. We enjoyed working with our family and with our friends.“
“Today we enjoyed being involved with the activities. The practical work made it more exciting. We had chance to work in teams with peers and parents. Doing this gave us a better understanding of theSTEM subjects.“
“We enjoyed this experience, although it was fun, it also gave us a chance to think and communicate together to produce something that made us understand more about how STEM subjects are used in the workplace.”
“It was helpful that the project was for girls (only) because generally the boys take over.”
Day 2 CAD/Drawing and communication
“The staff made the 2 weeks fun and I realised (as a parent) how far CAD has moved on since I did this!”
“We learnt fantastic communication skills and it was fantastic for the parents to get involved with their daughters in this project."
“The activities were informative and gave us the opportunity to understand more about engineering in particular.”
“The project was a good opportunity to work with my daughter in an unfamiliar environment. A great daughter/father experience… particularly the communication/instruction aspect of the project!”
Did the girls’ perceptions change?
"I am a lot more confident in engineering because I now understand what it entails. I also see more how there is work in STEM jobs for women" – Eloise
"I now know that engineering is to do with Science, Tech and maths – not just about building" – Kayleigh
"I have sort of taken a different view of maths" – Chelsie
What the project partners say about the event:
Gary Cooper, Head of Year at Stewards School said:
"We are delighted to join with our partners in the STEM project to promote opportunities in STEM occupations, especially to girls who have been underrepresented in the sector for too long. We are keen to ensure our girls are aware of the additional career opportunities there can be by studying STEM."
Fiona Marriage from Essex County Council said:
"We were delighted with the success of the project with 31 girls taking part – most of them brought a parent or carer with them and representatives from the schools, AST and Essex County Council also joined in.
"We look forward to continuing the project with this group of girls and to extending the project to two new schools in the new academic year."
Try Something New Day
Working with two local Junior schools, year 6 pupils were invited to the college to ‘try something new’. Both girls and boys took part in two workshops in subjects which are often perceived as being ‘just for boys’ or ‘just for girls’. The day started with an upbeat presentation showcasing famous male and female role models working in both fashion and engineering industries and talking to the children about their perceptions of what are subjects and careers they thought were for boys, for girls or for both. In the morning the children attended a Fashion design workshop - using sowing and creative skills to decorate T-shirts and in the afternoon they took part in a lively engineering workshop where they made bridges and towers in teams with their teachers and helpers.
As a result of the activities, many of the children had changed their perceptions about what both subjects were and who they were for and by large agreed with our premise for the day which was ‘you can study and work in any subject you’re interested in!’
In addition, we asked the children to identify the skills they had learnt and the knowledge they had used during the day, and they were:
- Problem solving
- Creating and Designing
- Making things
- Taking things apart
- Taking things apart
- Science and how things work
- Art and Drawing
- Physical work
Comments from children:
"I thought Engineering was brilliant because we worked as a team" – Sara
"I think Fashion was OK for some of the boys and enjoyable" – Kevin
"I enjoyed making the T-shirt... my football shirt went well’ – Hayden
"The activities so far are brilliant! I think the boys and the girls worked just as well as everyone" – Olivia
"I liked rolling the ball to the other side (of the bridge) but on my first time I threw the ball. I had a great day" – Megan
"We really worked well together and I enjoyed it" – Robyn
Comments from staff/parents/helpers:
"We are a highly equal opportunities school and it is great to see this endorsement carried through into Further Education" – Head of Year
"As a parent I thought today was a very enjoyable day for the children" – parent/helper
"Good to see that what is endorsed in schools carries on in college" – Teacher
"Thank you so much – it was super to have the opportunity to observe my class – many new qualities became apparent" – Asst Head/Yr6 teacher
Focus on Disability
Another of our equality objectives is to raise awareness amongst students and staff of different types of disabilities and learning difficulties in order to promote understanding and foster good relationships. This year, we have focussed on Deaf Awareness, Mental Health and Learning Disabilities and Difficulties.
A short course ‘An introduction to Signing’ was run and attended by a number of members of the public and College staff. Feedback from the students was very positive.
The course has given staff the confidence to engage in some basic sign language – and some of them have shown an interest in learning more. The course will run again next year.
A project to encourage students our Foundation Studies Students (students with learning disabilities and difficulties) and mainstream students to work on activities together was launched this year with an Easter Basket activity. The idea of this project was to break down barriers and develop a greater understanding between students.
Students from Foundation Studies and students from Sport, Health and Social Care and Hospitality, worked together at lunchtimes in our Food Court, to make and sell Easter Baskets to students, staff and visitors.
Further activities are being planned for next year and include playing board games and table tennis in the Food Court.
Mental Health First Aid
Twenty staff attended a two-day workshop with MIND. The workshop is designed to give people the skills required to recognise different types of mental health conditions, from mild depression and stress to psychotic states; and to be able to support and sign-post a person with the presenting condition to the most appropriate help and support.
Staff who attended found the course very powerful and for some, life changing. The group have put in place plans to raise awareness of mental health issues amongst students and staff in order to address the stigma that often surrounds mental health issues and to provide support. Promoting themselves as the Talk Team, these staff are available to support students and staff who may have issues themselves or who may be trying to deal with issues for someone else and need support and advice.
We spoke to students with Disabilities and Learning Difficulties who told us they would like to help us promote a culture where people in similar situations are encouraged and not limited because of their characteristics. They liked the idea of a case-study poster campaign called ‘Look up, not down’ – saying that often people will look down or away if they see someone who is a wheelchair user or who has a learning disability.