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Culture Week in the Girls' Division

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The Girls’ Division made the most of Culture Week at the end of half term. The aim of this week-long event was to recognise and appreciate the diversity within the school community and the importance of understanding other cultures, helping people to embrace and respectfully ask questions about their own and others’ cultures.

In a whole school assembly, Aakifah Ismail in Year 13 said: ‘When I first approached Mrs Green with the idea of having a culture day, she assured me that she’d fulfil this wish of mine to the best of her abilities. Following the summer holidays, I was told that the cultural day I’d originally wanted had been turned into a culture week. My personal aim for this week was to enable people to feel comfortable having conversations and exploring what makes us who we are.’

With help from Miss Lord, the Foundation Director of Creative Learning, the vision became a reality with a whole week of activities for the whole school.

Not one but two external exhibitions went on display around the Great Hall. The Manchester Hip Hop Archive Exhibition, which was recently on display at Manchester Central Library, explores the broad cultural impact of Hip Hop, and particularly its impact on Manchester, through a variety of memorabilia and material. The Missing Chapter exhibition features archive images going back to the invention of photography in the 1830s and is part of an ongoing nationwide project which uses the history of photography to illuminate the missing chapters in British history and culture, especially Black history and culture.

In addition, a staff-curated exhibition called the Mantlepiece Directive was presented around school. This featured items that hold a particular importance or significance to teachers and staff. Pupils were encouraged to view these ‘treasured ephemera’ and take the time to read the stories attached via luggage tags. A whole school Mass Observation Directive expanded on this exhibition: pupils were invited to submit seemingly insignificant items that are in fact full of meaning by taking a photograph of their mantlepiece (or an equivalent shelf) and recording personal reflections and conversations with family about the significance of the items pictured.

A writing competition for girls in all year groups was also themed around this idea of ordinary objects with extraordinary significance. The prompts were to either write an autobiography about an item important to you, or write a fictional piece on the power of what appears to be an ordinary object.

On Thursday, over the course of lunch, girls in Years 7 and 8 enjoyed the Continental Culture Trail. They journeyed around the seven continents, visiting stalls that were set up around the school to find out about the many different cultures around the world. They collected travel stamps in their culture passports and recorded their thoughts and ideas. There were also quizzes available for the girls to test themselves on the information they learned. Pupils who performed well on the quiz and those who completed a full passport were even in with a chance to win a prize!

Form times throughout the week were dedicated to discovering more, from breakdancing taster sessions for all year groups to completing an Arts, Culture and Heritage questionnaire. Sixth Form students also took advantage of screenings of the film ‘Freedom Fields’ during the week, and were able to Zoom live with the director, Naziha Arebi, for an in-depth discussion about her aims in making the documentary. All girls had access through a Showbie group to many more links, videos and photos to help them gain a greater understanding of different cultures.

Girls were invited to take part in two non-uniform days to round off the week. On Thursday, they could attend school dressed in clothing that gives a sense of their personal culture or identity, for example through traditional dress or sports, art and pop culture clothing. On Friday, girls were asked to wear red to Show Racism the Red Card.

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