“We build a caring culture of safety, compassion and inclusion, celebrating the diverse nature of our community and providing a voice and sense of belonging for all”.
In today’s interconnected world, the significance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in educational institutions, especially international schools, cannot be overstated. Our college acts as a microcosm of our globalised society, hosting students and staff from a range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds. As such, it's paramount to understand why DEI is not just a trending buzzword but a crucial element in shaping future global citizens.
One aspect of the importance of DEI is that it reflects the real world. International schools, by their very nature, are melting pots of cultures, traditions, and beliefs. To genuinely reflect the diversity of our global community, we need to prioritise DEI in our procedures and in our curriculum. We want to prepare our students for success in a multicultural and diverse global workforce and equip them with skills in this area which can be done deliberately.
A diverse student and faculty population brings a wealth of perspectives to classroom discussions, group projects, and extracurricular activities. When students are exposed to a multitude of viewpoints, they learn to approach problems creatively, think critically, and appreciate the value of different perspectives. This rich learning experience is an aspect of our programme at the College. In a diverse setting, students and staff are naturally exposed to various cultural norms, values, and traditions. This exposure naturally fosters empathy, understanding, and respect for differences if it is highlighted, planned, and curated. Over time, students cultivate cultural competencies, an essential skill for happy successful adults.
Equity ensures that all students have access to the resources they need to succeed, regardless of their starting point. Students with additional needs or those who are accessing the curriculum through a second language need to have equal opportunity to benefit from our programme and specialist teachers support this population of students every day. Inclusion goes beyond mere representation. It ensures that all students feel valued, heard, and empowered. In an inclusive environment, students with varying abilities, backgrounds, and needs are given the support required to thrive. This creates a sense of belonging, boosting self-esteem and of course, academic performance for all as learning experiences that are personalised for all learners benefit ALL learners. By embedding DEI into our guiding statements, we hope to ensure that our students are not just academically proficient but are also socially conscious, culturally aware, and empathetic individuals ready to make positive contributions to society and to be successful in whatever they choose to do. We hope to contribute to the development of DEI beyond the College through our graduates, who are equipped with an understanding of DEI principles, who can then champion these values in higher education, the workforce, and society at large.
Our journey with DEI began a few years ago, and much progress has already been made in several areas, including awareness raising, curriculum, community initiatives and policy and procedures.
Some recent examples of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives:
- Guiding Statements: New statements were launched, emphasising themes of Global Citizenship including DEI, Intercultural Awareness, and Social Justice.
- Whistleblowing Policy: An initiative to facilitate the reporting of incidents anonymously.
- Accessibility Review: Consultations with differently-abled students led to site modifications and a potential application for the SG Enable "Enabling Mark."
- Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) have been established for various groups including Women, Muslims, Christians, LGBTQ+, individuals with disabilities, and Indian staff, amongst others.
Community initiatives led by students and parents:
- Celebration of Diversity: a week recognizing the diversity of our community and the cultural backgrounds we have at the College.
- A review of the Uniform Policy: The new uniform policy is gender-neutral and was led entirely by a group of students.
- Name Pronunciation: Introduction of an auditory name option in the student database to aid in correct pronunciation of names by all staff.
- Hosted a DEI Micro-Conference in October, enabling student discussions around DEI themes.
Professional Learning and Development supporting DEI:
- Intercultural Awareness Training has been offered for all staff.
- The Singapore Diversity Collaborative (SDC) held training events for staff on various DEI topics.
- DEI Training for new staff, emphasizing the importance of DEI at DCSG.
Staff Terms and Conditions:
- Inclusivity Surveys were conducted for our JLL and Sodexo colleagues to gauge their sense of inclusion.
- Parental Leave Review: we have examined the feasibility of increasing maternity and paternity leave for staff.
- Dress Code: rewritten as a non-gendered dress code.
- Integration of DEI: Fully incorporated into the College's Global Citizenship approach.
- Teaching with Inclusion and Culture Embedded (TWICE) Course was offered to staff aimed at critical analysis of pedagogy for inclusion.
Dulwich College (Singapore) remains steadfast in its commitment to fostering an environment where every individual feels valued, respected, and heard. The College continuously assesses its DEI initiatives, seeking feedback and making necessary improvements to align with its vision. This is not a knee-jerk response to societal pressure or cosmetic changes to appease vocal minorities. We are engaged in a careful, thoughtful, and fundamental rethinking of how we operate as an institution in all areas. This will take time, and it will be too slow for some in our community and too fast for others, and we accept this. However, by continuing to discuss with as wide a group of people as possible and involving our students as the core engine of what we do we hope to navigate this journey with a pioneering and respectful spirit.