Equity or Equality?

By H. Kumar-Mehay, Head Girl

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Newsome, Consultant for the Matrix Academy, regarding one of our previous posts on the Black Lives Matter movement. In our meeting, we discussed the crucial yet somewhat difficult feat of educating students about racism within the classroom and what ways we could reveal the truths of this to students so we can all comprehend the issues that many members of our society face each day.

One of the questions I was asked was if I could explain the difference between equality and equity. I sat in the chair of this glass-panelled office eyeing the room for some answers but truthfully, I couldn’t answer this. In all honesty, I felt quite guilty for not knowing the difference. Surely after doing so much research and having many conversations on the topic, I should have understood the difference between these words which seemed as if they were identical, yet worlds apart in the same instance.

After sitting there for some time, Ms. Newsome told me that with the idea that, whilst equality is treating everyone the same but on the same level, equity was about treating everyone equally through treating people based on their needs and differences.

Now understanding the difference between the two, I’m constantly reflecting on that experience to connect it to my own life experiences.

It is important to have special months for oppressed groups, like Black History Month (October) and LGBT History Month (February), where we rightfully appreciate these groups of people, whose achievements might not have been appropriately rewarded in the past: the people who have been oppressed, who constantly strive for the equality that they rightfully deserve. 

Without equity, there is no equality. 

In order reach true equality, we must appreciate the principle of equity, through meeting different needs of minorities in our society.

It is simply not enough to not be racist; we must be actively anti-racist. We must actively fight against discrimination of all kinds. 

I want to thank Ms. Newsome for enlightening me further on this topic and constantly encouraging my curiosity. Every day, I reflect on our

conversation which inspires me to fight for equality. Whether it’s based on race, gender or sexual orientation, thank you for helping make me realise that fighting for equality is not a ‘One size fits all’ approach, but is unique and individual each time as we seek to ensure every single individual feels valued in our school, on our streets and in our society.


Mental health – keep the conversation going

By H. Kumar-Mehay, Head Girl

Mental health – keep the conversation goingBy H. Kumar-Mehay, Head Girl
Last week was Children’s Mental Health Week, and it was all about raising awareness and what can be done to help those who are suffering from poor mental health. The week may now be over but the conversation mustn’t stop.

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. However, it can be harder to maintain mental health and to break the taboo associated with it. Mental health is something everyone has. But for some, it can often be hard to put your feelings into words and to talk to others, and more often than not the easier option is to stay silent, keeping your feelings to yourself. The current lack of physical contact from anyone outside your support bubble can make things even harder. But there are ways to make things better.

Reach out to others

Barr Beacon School has an extensive support system, and your teachers are here to help. If you ever have a really bad day, if something is worrying you, or if you want to share some good news, your teachers will be there to listen! It is as easy as dropping them and email or a message via TEAMS and they’ll respond, offering advice and support. So why not give it a shot? If you’re up to it, email at least one of your teachers after reading this and ask them how they are. I promise you they’ll appreciate it! If you don’t want to reach out to your teachers, phone a friend or a family member to talk to, or you can set up a group facetime to have a catchup. It will be a great way to ease stress and relieve loneliness.

Keep a healthy routine 

During lockdown it is easy to slip out of a routine: playing on consoles, scrolling through TikTok… the hours fly by. The next thing you know it’s 1 am and you’re still awake. Sleeping less than 8 hours a night deprives the brain of valuable time to repair itself and rest for the day ahead. It is vital to try to sleep a minimum of 8 hours to wake up feeling fresh and happy, ensure you wake up at least 40 minutes before the beginning of form to get freshened up and eat breakfast. You also need to get that beauty sleep in! Sleeping and waking at regular times, eating a balanced diet and taking regular exercise will leave your body and mind feeling stronger and better. Take time out of your day for some self-care, in whatever way you would like: you can read a book, have a spa day at home, buy yourself some new clothes (online at the moment!) or go for a run. Just take a step back and enjoy the little things in life.

Dealing with Online School

  • It can be very appealing to set an alarm 5 minutes before the beginning of form time and log into form whilst still in bed. However, this will not allow you enough time to get fresh and eat breakfast before the start of the school day, which will make you feel groggy and unfocused during your lessons. Waking up earlier gives you time to set up your desk and get ready for the day. 
  • Make sure you are still using your planner to stay organised and ensure you are completing your homework/TEAMS assignments in plenty of time. Avoid rushing to do it last minute as it will make you feel stressed.
  • Your working environment can have a huge effect on your mood. Whilst working from your bed is a very comfy and warm option, it is best to sit at your desk/table with your books and equipment to best emulate the school environment. This will make you feel more focused. 
  • Sitting in front of a screen for hours can be quite draining, and so it’s ok to stand up and take a stretch during your lessons. Similarly, use your breaks wisely, go outside and get some fresh air as a substitute for using TikTok.

Find ways to replace the activities you miss.

Whilst it’s not possible to go to the cinema or to the gym, why not try something new? Maybe it’s time to fix that bike that’s rusting in your garden or learn a new language, write a blog or kickstart your YouTube channel… the possibilities are endless. Embarking on something new will give you focus and something to aim for, as well as relieving stress.

If the way you feel is affecting your ability to function day-to-day, or becomes overwhelming, please reach out to someone and talk. Things will always get better. And, even at times when you feel alone, there are always people there for you, rooting for you.

The NHS have a website for tips on improving and dealing with Mental Health – https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/

Samaritans offer free and confidential support; you can contact them by phone 24/7 at 116 123 

For a list of more support options, please click the following link – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/

Hopefully, we can all be back in school sooner rather than later. But, for now, please look after yourselves and follow the current government guidelines.


Reflecting back on 2020 – and looking forward

By M. Hill, Deputy Head Boy

2020 was unlike any other in our lifetimes. The collective struggle of our society in fighting a constant battle has been a new experience for the all of us. With protests in Hong Kong, devastating wildfires in Australia, wars, volcanic eruptions, oil leaks in Ambarnaya, a catalogue of racial injustices including the murder of George Floyd, a massive explosion in Lebanon, the deaths of many, many innocent people, multiple floods and earthquakes, the rise of COVID-19 and much more. No wonder we felt so tired and overwhelmed. 

2020 was truly a year to remember. 

In spite of this overwhelming madness, there have been a rather large amount of positives things that have happened throughout the year. 

Although it isn’t really apparent, our society has taken a huge step forwards in its approach to equality, acceptance and respect. With some ‘haters’ still standing tall, trying their best to force their outdated opinions on others, many of us have risen together to fight back and ensure we all feel proud to be who we truly are. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Hey! It’s 2020 bro, you can’t be saying that any more” (or similar) many times. Although a simple comment, it reflects on how much our society has begun to accept those who don’t conform to the old normalisations and expectations. That, is a huge step forward and is something to be proud of. Alongside this, I’d like to draw your attention to just a few of the many positive things that have happened over the course of 2020, and share with you a valuable reflection on them as a whole. 

Polio was officially eradicated on the African continent

On 25th August, with the help of the WHO, Rotary International, CDC, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gave, the Vaccine Alliance, Africa was deemed Polio-free after the last confirmed case was recorded in 2016 in Nigeria. This virus has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands, and to see its eradication in Africa is wonderful.

Dogs trained to protect wildlife have saved 45 rhinos from poachers in South Africa

In March, the Southern African Wildlife College and Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance had used various beagles and bloodhounds to track down poachers in South Africa. Over the last decade, 9442 African rhinos have been lost to poaching, and with this extraordinary work by these two organisations, they were able to prevent an extra 45 rhinos being poached. Poaching is a serious issue in South Africa, and it gives us hope that organisations such as these are making extraordinary attempts, and succeeding, in reducing the number of rhinos lost. 

People around the world rose up to protest against racial injustice

After the devastating death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis, USA protests had arisen in nearly all major cities. Hundreds of thousands of people had flooded the streets, desperate to make a change to the overwhelming racial injustice that infects our society. This stand against racism had extended to more than 60 different countries in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and against the racial injustice and police brutality. In response to such a movement, the officer responsible for the death, Derek Chauvin, was charged with second-degree murder, alongside his accomplices for abetting the murder, reforms were made in the way police were to handle members of the public, vows to put more funding towards youth and social services, new databases for collecting video footage of all police action, the removal of several Confederate and slavery-linked statues around the world, action in the media to address institutional racism, and changes to many commercial products to more accurately represent black lives. This change has been a dramatic one, and as an advocator for equality and acceptance for those around me, it is incredible to see a world standing up for those who society treat with disrespect and animosity. 

Crayola had released new inclusive skin-tone crayons

It may seem trivial to some, but moves like this are important. In May, Crayola had released its most inclusive skint-tone crayons to date. The ‘Colours of the World’ pack includes over 40 different skin colours, allowing children to “accurately colour themselves into the world”. Such an idea has propelled the inclusivity of all children of different skin tones into the world, allowing them to feel accepted and ‘normal’, whilst allowing them to understand that there are many different skin tones in the world, with all being equally as important as the next. It is typically thought that we are taught to treat those of other skin-tones differently, leading to preset ideas of others when they are older. Having such an inclusive product for children to use is a definite advancement in enabling our society to function collectively, rather than as isolated groups. 

In addition to the horrible events of 2020, there were many incredible ones too. A valuable reflection on 2020 that I believe is necessary to take away, is that through all of the darkness and trauma you may experience, either individually or with others, you are never truly alone. You will always be wanted in this world, and you should never feel insignificant. No one can be better at being you than yourself, so you should feel free to be the best you that you can be. Amidst all of the valuable lessons 2020 has taught us, the most important now is to love and cherish those around you, and do whatever makes you happy. 


Time to try a new hobby?

By Emily Allen, Deputy Head Girl

I will admit that I have never been the person to stick to the same things. Growing up I tried a range of sports and clubs, but I have never stuck to them. However, that is not always a bad thing; your time at school is the perfect time to start trying new things as whether it’s your first year at Barr Beacon or even your last, there is still time to get out of your comfort zone and experience new things. The list of hobbies is endless; use this time at school or even during the holidays to expand your list of tried things. From testing a lot of sports, I have finally concluded that I love to play tennis, whether it is playing it or just coaching. Without the experience of the different hobbies, I wouldn’t have found something that I love. Use spare time to find your passion. My example of sports is just the beginning of the list. There is no age limit to going out and experiencing new things, it has taken me this long to find out what I enjoy, and I am in Year 13. Even when you have left school and go to university, an apprenticeship or get a job, there is still time for you to go out and try new things. However, this time at school is a great time to start trying out new things. 

The benefits of having a hobby are endless. Here are just a few that comes to mind:

  • It helps you to relieve any stress by keeping you engaged in something you enjoy. 
  • Hobbies can increase your social life and create a bond with others. 
  • They bring a sense of fun and freedom to life that can help minimise the impact of chronic stress. 
  • Helps you keep motivated.

From experience, I know how hard it is to maintain motivation at home. Having to look after my two dogs sometimes makes it hard to stay concentrated on my schoolwork. But from having to deal with this throughout lockdown I came up with a solution that helped both myself and the two pups: having a small break from my work to take them to the park and get some exercise walking them finally allowed me to concentrate as they fell straight to sleep when we got back. Not only did it benefit the dogs, I also benefitted from going outside and taking a break from my work. Therefore, I have made a habit to stop being lazy and go for little walks whenever I can. Getting out into the fresh air revived my energy and gave me motivation to go back and finish my work. Hobbies do not just include exercising; the list is endless. Whether you are into collecting Lego, engaging in astronomy, baking, or even just reading a book. A hobby can be anything. 

At this point of school, we are just getting back into everything and getting our heads around new routines. Even with the Covid measures in place, our school has found a way of continuing with after-school clubs, such as badminton and there are still hundreds of hobbies you can take part in that does not involve contacting others. A great example of this is learning a new skill. I am hardly at a professional level, but I learnt the alphabet in sign language. This was a little while ago. And at that time it felt so good to have learnt something new and it made me want to continue learning and trying out new things. Perhaps I should pick it up again?

I am sure most of you are spending quite a lot of time online, whether it is on YouTube, TikTok or other forms of social media. However, you could use this time for trying new things. Even using a fraction of that time that you would have spent on your phones and doing something else instead would be extremely beneficial for your mental and physical health. Even if you do not fancy going out to explore the hobbies that are available to you outside of home or school, you can even make a hobby out of your phone or laptop. Start a blog maybe? Use your time to make a positive change online. 

Do not think that it is too late to start something new: you’ve got your whole life ahead of you, so try new hobbies, meet new people and have fun. 


Aldridge Remembrance Service

Our Head Girl Hena and Head Boy Ibrahim laid a wreath, on behalf of Barr Beacon School, at Aldridge War Memorial. We are very proud of them both.

Due to social distancing restrictions, the event was filmed on Sunday 11th October 2020 and will be streamed live on Remembrance Day.


Back to school: Be brave, be you!

Ibrahim Sohail – Head Boy

September. The days are getting shorter. The nights are getting colder, and after what feels like years, we’re back at school.

The final weeks of August mark the dreaded back to school shop which I’m certain everyone loves(!).

Although, if I’m perfectly honest, I do LOVE it.

It’s allowed me to justify my need to go shopping, from buying ANOTHER new maths set (which I always lose) to a fresh set of school shoes. I’ve always enjoyed the shop before the start of term, having everything perfectly organised, then waking on the highly awaited first day, body pumping with adrenaline, ready to see my friends and get learning.

The new school year marks the next step in your education, whether that be our new peers just beginning their secondary school journey, the Year 11s ready for GCSEs or us Year 13s in our final year of A-levels and our final year at Barr Beacon *cries uncontrollably*.

Wait what! Final year? That’s actually crazy!

But my point is, no matter what stage of education we are now in, we are all such amazing people with such amazing talents and let’s make the most of our talents and wisdom this school year. So go learn the ukulele, go play football for a team. Grasp the opportunities given to you this year, be brave, be YOU!

I think it’s so important to never forget how privileged we are to have access to such high-level education facilities, when over 40% of the world do not. It’s vital to always remain grateful for what we have and continue to be the amazing people we are.

Now, I’m sure by now, we are all quite used to our new (COVID-necessary) school routines. Returning to/joining school has not been ‘normal’ this September, but we’ve all shown true Barr Beacon resilience and togetherness by adapting to the new COVID measures put into place, we’ve got to continue what we’re doing to keep ourselves and everyone safe.

Our lovely staff at Barr Beacon have worked tirelessly to make our return safe whilst still providing the highest quality of education, as always. A big shout out and thank you to the caretakers, bistro staff, teachers and ALL staff at Barr Beacon School. We appreciate you!


Do No Harm

Joshua Anderson – Deputy Head Boy

Do no harm

On 9th July, Year 12 students had a webinar with a 96-year-old survivor of the Holocaust, Iby Knill. Joshua Anderson, Deputy Head Boy, reflects on this and his visit to a former concentration camp earlier in the year.

After visiting Bergen-Belsen on the 12th February and witnessing the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime, my eyes have been forever opened by the extremely powerful testimony of Iby Knill. Despite the horrific trauma she has faced, she has an extremely positive resolve towards all aspects of life, including holding no resentment to those at Auschwitz-Birkenau. After being liberated, she spent time working in the home office where she was the only woman out of 50 men. 

After living an extremely normal life up until the 1930s, she noticed a major turning point in 1935 from the introduction of the Nuremberg laws into society. As a young person at the time, she was shocked and confused as to why she was being made to wear a Star of David on her coat and being marked out from the rest of society. Her life was completely turned upside down when a family friend called Lucy was taken away to be used sexually by German soldiers in Russia. This appalled me as I was horrified to hear about how inhumane the Nazi regime was as they took an innocent teenage girl away from her home and forced her into a situation no one should ever have to experience.

After hearing the news, Knill escaped to Hungary as an illegal immigrant up until 1942, when an insider leaked the location of 148 Jewish men and women. The Nazis reacted swiftly and imprisoned her along with everyone else hidden within the network. They were sent to Auschwitz where one of the most upsetting comments I’ve ever heard appeared in one of her poems; Knill wrote: “only the strong and healthy will remain”. I felt extremely guilty when I read this and realised how lucky and privileged we are to have hot meals every single day, to never have to worry about if the water we’re drinking is clean or where we will sleep at night. In April 1944, Knill was sent on a death march towards Bergen-Belsen concentration camp until the march was intercepted by allied forces and her life as a prisoner due to her religion was over. 

After the meeting concluded, she said many powerful and extremely relevant things. She discussed how she has always lived by her father’s motto ‘Do no harm’ and on differences in class, gender, race and religion, she stated that “all differences should be valued and respected”. This remains relevant in today’s society with all the unjust actions that are being taken towards Muslims in concentration camps in China, who are also being persecuted because of their religion. She urged that as humans, we need to learn from the mistakes of the holocaust. Knill also mentioned the fact that “under the skin, we’re all the same”; we all need to understand and appreciate what has been shown to us by the BLM movement (our Head Girl Henna wrote an amazing piece on this which can be read HERE). 

I believe as a school, events like these are key to promoting global issues and as Deputy Head Boy, I was proud at the number of non-historians who turned up to hear the inspirational survivor talk about her experiences. 

I would like to thank Mrs Selby for organising this important event but, most importantly, I’d like to thank Iby Knill for helping us to keep the memory alive and aiding us in remembering the 6 million Jews who sadly lost their lives.  

Some useful websites can be found here if you’d like to hear more about Iby Knill or learn more about the holocaust.




Hard Work or Good Luck? Starting a New Month

“White rabbits”

“Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit”

“Pinch punch first day of the month”

Whatever you may say when you wake up to a new page on the calendar, let me ask why we may say these things? (Let’s leave aside their sometimes very strange origins: https://metro.co.uk/2018/10/01/why-do-we-say-white-rabbits-and-pinch-punch-on-the-first-day-of-the-month-7993616/)

I can put my hands up to admit that I am one of those people who like to say these ‘good luck’ mantras to just be on the ‘safe side’. But this left me to ponder why should we depend on these few words to help determine how these next 31, 30, 28 (or 29 in a leap year) days will go?

My own personal ethos (and that of Barr Beacon) fully agrees that hard work will always pay off no matter how long it takes. Success is not determined by luck. Only we can decide how we want to mould our futures, whether it is a long-term goal like wanting to pursue a certain vocation or a short-term goal like simply getting through a whole month and keeping yourself organised.  

A new month can commemorate a sense of change in ourselves like setting new goals to achieve. Perhaps we could take up a new skill, talk to a new face in one of our classes or even try something that we had always wanted to do but never had the chance to, such as staring a blog? (N.B. I’m talking autobiographically here!)

It is also a great time to look back on the last month and not forget what we have learned and how the world is changing. Both the Black Lives Matter movement (see the previous blog) and Pride Month has shown us that our world is striving closer towards equality that the people of these communities have always deserved. Starting a new month isn’t about moving on to the next ‘trending’ discourse but a chance to tackle these problems further until there is nothing to tackle. Remember to educate, sign petitions and donate to both communities as we need change.  

Now, a new month doesn’t always mean a new you and new goals. You shouldn’t ever feel limited to a date beginning the 1st to push you into a state of fresh starts. It could be in the middle of the month, in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day and you may feel in a little bit of a slump, but this doesn’t mean you have to wait another 15 days to start all over again. You can hit the refresh button whenever you like and the sooner you do, the closer you can get to reach this month’s goals you may have abandoned on the second square of the calendar.

But a new month is always a great place to reset and go. And go with passion, determination and never giving up.

For this new month of July which we’re all about to embark on, I hope we can all embody all of these qualities and when we hit the 31st I cannot wait to see all the amazing things we have achieved and that we can carry on with in the future.

Although we may not need it, as hard work will be the backbone of our successes, for this month and many more months to come… good luck!

For more information on the Black Lives Matter movement please read our previous blog post.

Here’s a page to petitions for LGBTQ+ rights: https://www.change.org/t/lgbt-rights-3

Here are some links to LGBTQ+ charities and communities which you can use to educate and donate if you can:

All Out: https://allout.org/en/what-all-out

London Gaymers: https://www.londongaymers.co.uk/

Switchboard: https://switchboard.lgbt/

Stonewall: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/

Pictured below are my rabbits Pippin and Luna wishing us all ‘good luck’ for this July!


Senior Team Blog: Black Lives Matter

By H. Kumar-Mehay, Head Girl

The world may seem to be a scary place right now. But the scariest thing of all is the thought of turning a blind eye to the issues in our society, the thought of not educating ourselves. Not just on the health issues that our world faces today but the social issues that people of colour, in particular that black people, face every day.

Over the past few weeks, the problems that face black people every day have suddenly caught the mainstream media’s attention and now hopefully yours. It seems that every few years the Black Lives Matter movement appears as ‘important’ as if these lives are only to be cared over a certain period of time. These problems, however, are not short term for this community. Unfortunately, it seems as if these problems that are faced are ones that have an unlimited lifespan. We cannot live in a world where a person’s skin colour determines if some people will come back home to their families. People should be able to live their lives without the constant fear of getting stopped for appearing ‘suspicious’, determining if they will live to see another day or die.

We should refuse to ignore this truth and refuse to not share this truth with others. If you are unaware of the problems that black people face today, I am not here to advise you to do some research. I am here to tell you that you must. You must research and educate yourselves to help fix a system built upon discrimination and antagonism. To help build a future we all deserve, we must be better so we can live in a world where we are emancipated from the destructiveness of injustice that affects black people today. In this day and age, it is simply not enough to not be racist. We need to be to actively anti-racist.

Thank you.

To all those black individuals who have lost their lives to injustice, we will fight for peace so that you can rest in peace. Here are some of those names. Names we must never forget.

Educate yourself

Reading list


BLM movement


White privilege and ally meaning


Links to educate




Where to donate if you can: https://linktr.ee/actionDONATE

Links for petitions

Sign the petition to issue a State executive order to hold police accountable for unlawful action

Sign the petition for British schools to implement teaching British children about black history here.

Sign the petition to Suspend UK export of tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields to USA

Sign the petition for the UK government to condemn President Trump’s response to BLM protests here.

Sign the Justice for Belly Mujinga petition here.

Sign the Justice for Breonna Taylor petition here.

Sign the Justice for Tony McDade petition here.

Sign the Reopen Sandra Bland’s case petition here.

Sign the petition to raise the degree for Derek Chauvin’s murder charge here.

Sign the petition to battle racism by updating GCSE reading lists

Sign the petition to make it compulsory for Anti-Racism Education in U​.​K. Schools

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