Headmaster’s Letter To Pupils
I know that we have all been moved by the reaction to the tragedy of Sarah Everard, the wonderfully vibrant young professional woman who was abducted and subsequently murdered recently. Two of my grown-up daughters, who live close by, visited the Bandstand on Clapham Common, a gathering place for those women and men who wanted to show solidarity, but which has since become a source of controversy with the Metropolitan Police. You have probably seen the shrine and messages put on the Causeway here in Canterbury (as we walk to Birley’s or the Recreation Centre).
King’s, as a mature and pastorally sensitive coeducational School, will do all it can to support the good reforms coming through in our society and more generally to make streets and public spaces even more safe for women and girls, as well as to establish even more solidarity against sexual violence and outdated unhelpful and undermining expressions of sexism in everyday life. This seems to me to be undoubtedly a tipping point in people’s attitudes to sexual violence, consent and safety in our streets and public spaces.
I wanted to reassure you that we have got our house in order on this and related issues, but that nothing can be perfect in some of these areas. That emphasises the importance of continuing to work together to improve our processes and for our female students to know that they can always come forward in confidence and be heard, taken seriously and that I am always determined to take action to right any wrongs. I commend all your great efforts and valuable contributions since the issues hit the papers. I would ask for our female students to feel empowered and supported; I would urge our male students to show support and solidarity, but also to have the courage in the chats and discussions that they have with male friends outside King’s, not to be timid to say that we do things differently here and will always challenge sexist banter and contest the danger of conventions and macho or patriarchal stereotypes remaining unchallenged and pervasive outside King’s.
Join with me to say that our culture is good and improving (but not perfect and must always be brought to account), but together we can help the wider forces in society to bring about good change. Please do feel that you can write to me if you want to help, or you do not agree with all my points.