At Oasis, we know that Black British History is British History! It is not something other or separate but integral to the collective history of us all. So, this Black History Month, we have been inviting guest visitors and speakers in across our academies all over the country. A very special guest to come and join Oasis Foundry was Mr. Gilroy Brown, born and bred in the West Midlands, he is a very inspirational person with a message we wanted to share across the family. He is the type of special guest that could inspire our children and demonstrate Black excellence in a way that could both motivate and challenge all (teachers and students alike).
(Mr. Gilroy Brown delivering whole school assembly during Black History Month)
Mr. Gilroy Brown was the former headteacher of Foundry Primary School (which later converted to Oasis Academy Foundry). He began at the school over 30 years ago, at a time when there were very few Black teachers let alone headteachers (a trend which unfortunately continues to this day). Gilroy, however, dared to be different. He dared to believe that he, as a Black man, could make a difference to the school community here in Winson Green, Birmingham. Guided by a single purpose and vision, Gilroy set out to ensure all children under his headship would receive an outstanding education. As part of this vision, Gilroy believed that children had a right to be taught by staff that looked like them. In the intervening years, he began to build a multicultural and diverse teaching workforce. One that looked like the children – at a time, this was very rare indeed.
(Foundry Staff team during Gilroy’s headship)
During his time visiting us at Oasis Foundry, Mr Brown answered questions from students in year 2 about the history of Foundry Primary School and led a whole school assembly in our main hall. He stood in the same spot he had last stood in 20 years ago when he delivered his final assembly to the school. Gilroy described it as ‘a deeply moving and emotional moment’ and stated that he was glad to see the legacy that he began continuing at the school. He impressed upon the children the importance of having excellence in all that they do and that they, irrespective of their backgrounds, could be anything they wanted to be. All they needed was LFB – Listening, Focus and Belief!
(Mr. Gilroy Brown taking questions from Year 2 students)
To this day, Oasis Academy Foundry remains a diverse and multicultural place, with a diverse staff body and leadership team, just the way it should be! We continue to break the mould in terms of what school staff structures look like nationally. We are intentional in our diversity and will always be.