When the University of Birmingham School (UoBS) opened in 2015, the year seven class was made up of students from 61 primary schools across the country
Based on Weoley Park Road near UoB’s Selly Oak campus, the school reflects the diversity of Birmingham. Having multiple catchment areas means that the school has a white population of 42%, an Asian students population of 26%, while black students make up 16% of the student body. This can be compared to Selly Oak where 71% of the residents are white, 11% are Asian, and 5.8% are black.
While the school takes half of its student population from Selly Oak, the other catchment areas cover Hall Green, the Jewellery Quarter, and Small Heath.
Birmingham was named as one of the top 10 areas for having some of the least integrated schools in the UK according to the Casey Review, a 2016 government report about segregation.
James Arthur, founder of UoBS and a professor at the School of Education at UoB said: ‘Birmingham is quite segregated. You have an east side of Birmingham that’s predominantly Muslim and Pakistani origin and you have a south side, where we are today, which is predominately white and more affluent.
‘We were very conscious that we didn’t want to have another school in the south of Birmingham that would just reflect the south of Birmingham.’
While having a diverse school body is part of the school’s mission, another key goal is ‘character education.’
Headteacher Rebecca Tigue said: ‘It’s our way of inspiring and teaching children to lead more flourishing lives by increasing their standards of what virtuous behaviour might look like.
‘We encourage them to show courage, compassion, empathy, justice, honesty, on a day to day basis.’
A student who attended UoBS sixth form after attending a local secondary school told Redbrick: ‘I can definitely say it was very, very diverse. There was a vast range of cultures and people with different religious beliefs and abilities. There was also an emphasis on discussing British values and tolerance for people of other beliefs. All my friends lived in different areas across the city.
‘I can say for the younger year groups, they did make an effort to give them a wide range of opportunities that you don’t usually find in other state secondary schools.’
UoBS has ‘enrichment programmes’ which encourage students to volunteer in the local community.
‘There were also frequent talks with people in different industries to discuss prospective careers and how to improve your CV to be a competitive applicant in the future,’ the student added.
Despite this focus on character, there was an incident on December 10th when three male students were stabbed outside the school gate. There have also been a few incidents of racism and homophobia, according to the article in The Guardian. Tigue said that it mostly occurs between younger students and they discuss these issues openly.
‘We specifically talk about racism, we specifically talk about homophobia, but we create safe spaces so students share the voices they have,’ Tigue said.