Why inclusivity is everything
- Prize Category: Overcoming Adversity
- Format: Panel discussion
- Country: South Africa
- Languages: Streamed live in English with automated captions in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, Filipino, Malay, Serbian and Hindi.
- Learn more about the Top Ten Shortlisted Schools in the Overcoming Adversity category on the World’s Best School Prizes website.
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About the school
Pinelands North Primary School in Cape Town, South Africa, is recognised as one of the country’s leading institutions when it comes to fostering inclusivity in education. When its principal, Ann Morton, took up the role in 1997, South Africa was emerging from the shadow of Apartheid, and the student population of her school was still predominantly white. Today Pinelands is a beacon of diversity.
The ethos of Pinelands North centres on building relationships within the school’s community and breaking down barriers. Creating an inclusive environment allows for a sense of belonging for families who don’t fit a traditional and normative family structure.
All pupils, male or female, wear the same uniforms – shorts and t-shirts, which are designed to be less traditional and more comfortable. The school has brought in gender neutral bathrooms and everyone, including teachers, is addressed by their first name. From Grade 2, students are taught sign language. When the school accepted its first transgender pupil, it provided guidance for families about gender identities and trained staff through workshops on how to guide parents to adapt to the school’s new policies.
This philosophy extends to animal welfare: students are encouraged to take care of animals and view them as part of the family. A programme was set up for pupils to volunteer to be “animal monitors” and help coach each other on how best to handle the animals under their care.
In the wake of the pandemic, Pinelands North’s governing body quickly implemented a fund to assist families who were struggling financially, had all staff participate in bereavement and trauma training to better support pupils and parents during COVID and opened an online school for students who could no longer attend classes in person.
Join us for an interesting session on inclusivity.
Moderator: Joanne Peers
Joanne Peers is a PhD candidate at the University of Oulu, Finland, pursuing relationality in education through thinking with bodies, water, history and space in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Her interest in justice and activism in the Global South brings ways of relating to oceans, environments and education. She is a pedagogical leader, and lecturer at the Centre for Creative Education. Her role as Community Support Co-ordinator and parent at Pinelands North Primary School; working with staff, parents and children, adds to the ongoing and necessary work of social justice in education settings in South Africa and globally.
Speaker 1: Ann Morton
Ann Morton, who has been the principal of Pinelands North Primary School in Cape Town for more than two decades, is passionate about inclusion and equity in education. She has worked relentlessly to create a safe place which celebrates difference and diversity. Under her leadership the school continues to challenge mainstream boundaries. Her contribution to issues relating to gender, disability, race and inequality has made her an asset to the broader education community of South Africa. With her team of staff, children and parents she is committed to overcoming adversity and participating in the journey for human rights in education. Ann believes doing what is right is better than doing the right thing!
Speaker 2: Shereen Stadler
Shereen Stadler has been deputy at Pinelands North for more than a decade. Having taught in historically disadvantaged schools in South Africa and the USA, she is the perfect co-creator of inclusive education at the school. Shereen is a Mathematics expert who sets national systemic examinations for the department of education. Her skill in narrative therapy, narrative leadership and narrative mentorship helps change the story lines of staff, parents and pupils. She has made a conscious effort to change traditional discipline, using Habits of Highly Effective People and narrative guidance instead. She mentors new staff to ensure our vision of continuous change is deeply rooted.
Speaker 3: Rose-Anne Reynolds
Rose-Anne Reynolds holds a PhD in Education from the University of Cape Town and is a lecturer in the School of Education at UCT. Rose-Anne’s research interests include Philosophy with Children, Philosophy of Childhood and Inclusive Education including Disability Studies. Rose-Anne is a qualified teacher and spent nineteen years in primary school education. She joined the Pinelands North community as a student teacher in 1997, after which she was appointed as the first teacher of colour at the school. After specializing in Special Needs Education, she developed and headed up the Inclusive Support Department for eight years while her children attended the school.