Matthew Savage portrait

Written by Matthew Savage

Former international school Principal, proud father of two transgender adult children, Associate Consultant with LSC Education, and founder of #themonalisaeffect.

I am increasingly of the opinion that every piece of policy and practice in our schools should intentionally centre, and be grounded in, both the pursuit of #deij and putting and keeping #wellbeingfirst. These are, for me, the two golden threads of education.

Consequently, and necessarily, all of the work I do with schools across the world is interwoven with these threads at all times. This is why my mission, as we step into a new academic year yet burgeoning with possibility, has been adapted fully to reflect this.

It is too easy for us to be distracted by other, competing priorities, forgetting that to have too many priorities is to have none. Therefore, now seems as good a time as any to revisit and reset our own.

I believe that every single member of each school community has a fundamental, inalienable and unconditional right to “be seen, be heard, be known and belong”. And I believe that it is my duty to embed and protect that right in everything I do.

We must each be seen for every intersecting identity that makes us who we are, throughout every stratum of what I call the ‘5 Cs of visibility’ – communication, curriculum, campus, climate and culture. We can, and must, audit this, in order to make sure it happens.

We must each be heard, and listened to, honestly, openly, actively and often, so that our voice, and the collective voice of our communities, inform and infuse the decisions that our made on our behalf. Student, staff and parent voice initiatives need to be authentic and systemic.

We must each be known, not for the masks we wear, thickly and well, but for the messy bundle of pains and passions, pasts and futures, needs and strengths we inhabit when not trying to comply, conform or perform. This is where datahard and soft, cold and warm, satellite and street – must play a part.

And if, and only if, we can each enjoy each of these three things, whether we be parent, staff or student, can we begin to belong, a vital, valued and vocal part of our school. And if we belong, then we can begin to thrive, for it is when thriving that the holistic outcomes, of individuals and of teams, are optimised.

As an educator, as a leader, what will you do this year to help ensure every single member of your school community be seen, be heard and be known, in order that everyone can truly belong?