Dear Boarding Families,
Well, we got there! It has been a long 11-week term and I am sure you are keen to share some quality family time together once again.
I have been reflecting on our boarding environment this term as I look for ways to continually evolve our culture and I came across an article on equity in education that was worth sharing.
“The quality of education that students receive directly correlates to their quality of life years down the road. Early education in particular has the power to shape a child’s future and the more resources available to them, the better. For this reason, it’s crucial for educators to address any barriers young students face to succeeding in school.”
They go on in the article to say the key is equity. Equity means offering individualised support to students that addresses possible barriers, like in some of our cases in boarding limited transportation, small-town lack of resources or isolated and remote town living.
Equality on the other hand is more commonly associated with social issues, perhaps because more people know what it means. In a nutshell, its definition is as it sounds–the state of being equal. When a group focuses on equality, everyone has the same rights, opportunities, and resources. Equality is beneficial, but it often doesn’t address specific needs.
According to the Race Matters Institute “The route to achieving equity will not be accomplished through treating everyone equally, it will be achieved by treating everyone equitably, or justly according to their circumstances.” Equity is more thoughtful and, while it’s harder work, it is better at resolving disadvantages. While equality is an admirable goal, by shifting our boarding focus to equity we could possibly have a more effective outcome.
Horizontal equity is only useful in homogenous boarding houses, where each person really is given the same opportunities in life. But in most boarding environments, students will come from a variety of backgrounds–some more privileged than others. For this reason, as educators we should be focusing on vertical equity, which assumes that boarders have different needs and provides individual resources based on said needs.
The article goes on to state that equity can also strengthen a student’s health and social-emotional development. In a study involving over 4,300 students in Southern California, the children who felt safer, less lonely, and reported less bullying also had higher diversity levels in their classes. Being equipped to promote diversity and provide for students from all backgrounds makes for an environment where students feel comfortable and have better emotional regulation. Additionally, equitable communities are linked to better health and longer average lifespans.
Surrounding communities’ benefit from equity in schools as well. Equity is linked to stronger social cohesion, meaning that individuals connect with each other better and are more compassionate. It also leads to long-term economic growth. This means that promoting equity in schools can be one of the best and most effective social investments.
To summarise, these are some of the benefits of focusing on equity in education and for us in boarding:
- Higher test scores
- Better health
- Stronger social atmosphere
- Longer life
- Economic growth
Keeping these five tips in mind for promoting equity in our boarding space and helping every student succeed:
- Remember that every child is different and has unique needs. Evaluate any challenges that students face and, if needed, offer support or resources
- Cultivate an environment in boarding where every student feels heard. Encourage them to speak out against unfairness and let you know if they’re facing any hardships at home or in boarding
- Parent engagement is a particularly helpful way to resolve challenges involving equity. Keep open communication with parents and encourage them to volunteer or attend school and boarding events to involve them with their child’s education
- Provide equity training in schools for boarding staff so they know how to resolve common barriers
Take care of each other and enjoy your break with your wonderful children.
Head of Boarding