Peter Symonds College, Winchester, has approximately 4,500 students – endeavouring to ensure every student feels included, represented and safe on campus, Symonds has established the EDI programme. 

The Equality, Inclusion and Diversity programme, brought in in 2021, has seen huge growth and development since then and is now relevant in almost every aspect of college life at Symonds.

The programme is focussed on making Symonds a place where everyone can be themselves comfortably – this is done by putting on events in college, such as Symonds’ Pride, Diwali celebrations and International Men’s and Women’s Days.

EDI coordinator, Samantha Jones explained how this programme is integral to developing the sense of community at Peter Symonds. 

She said: “For students to be able to come here and know there are already places for them to go and that they’re able to meet people like them is important. It’s a great way of making the college feel like a welcoming place.”

The enrichment programme is a key part of student life at Symonds. There are hundreds of enrichments to choose from and many of them are tied to and run in partnership with the EDI programme.

Samantha described how important this relationship with the student enrichment societies is for the EDI programme. 

She said: “We do rely on the societies a lot to hear about what they want to do. There are five of us in the EDI team and we all have a specialism, so mine is men’s and women’s empowerment and my colleagues focus on religion, race, neurodivergence and disability and LGBTQIA+. The societies then meet with whichever EDI team member corresponds to them. A lot of it is about the students organising events – they’re brilliant, they do such a good job.”  

A stand-out event for both coordinators and students was the Diwali event in November 2023. The EDI team worked with the South East Asian Society to put on a day of celebration where all students were invited to partake in and watch performances, share food and snacks and simply enjoy the culture and develop an understanding of religious observance.

A Symonds student who played an active role in the Diwali celebrations explained how she enjoyed the atmosphere and friendships created via this EDI event. She said: "The college putting on this event made me feel grateful because it made me and my friends feel seen and appreciated! It’s amazing how the college is so open to celebrating different cultures.”

As for the future of the EDI programme at Peter Symonds, Samantha Jones said the programme is looking to expand even further throughout college. 

She said: “We’ve spoken to senior management about ensuring that EDI is reflected in the curriculum and also working with different subject areas and looking at how we can do that. It’s important to make sure we’re visible in the college because the events are great, but they’re only for a day. We need to make sure we’re promoting EDI all the time.”

With Peter Symonds’ College Culture Day approaching in March 2024, this event will be a milestone to celebrate students and staff of all cultural backgrounds. These events work excellently as stand-alone days, but what is truly exciting and inspiring about EDI at Symonds is the fact it’s woven like a golden thread throughout the college and its staff and student bodies.

  • This article was written by Esther Draper, from Peter Symonds, as part of Newsquest's Young Reporter scheme.