Mindful Equity UK
It is Tuesday 5th September 2000, my first day of secondary school. I walk into a large hall surrounded by my fellow year sevens, waiting eagerly for our new headmistress to walk onto the stage and address us. A strong black woman glides across the stage to the lectern and announces, “Once a Saint Martin’s girl, always a Saint Martin’s girl!”. From day one, we were taught that every single person in the school was a member of our team and in the end, we were destined for greatness; I truly believed that! My time in secondary school coloured who I am today. Being educated in a then outstanding state school in south-east London, lead by a black headteacher with an extremely diverse student body, staff leadership team, I felt like I belonged. It is this sense of belonging that I credit for my ability to study a broad range of subjects and achieve 12 GCSEs graded A-C . This causal link is supported by research into the impact a sense of belonging has on student motivation, absenteeism, and academic outcomes (Goodenow and Grady, 1993; Louis, Smylie and Murphy, 2016; Sánchez, Colón and Esparza 2005).