When I look back at my time at KEGS, the memories are predominantly negative, which is sad because I met so many talented and kind individuals there. Simply put, the environment at KEGS was toxic and honestly, I was counting down the days until it was over. Academic competition was very unhealthy, and perfectionism was perpetuated by staff. Favouritism towards KEGS boys was evident, especially with regards to predicted grades. Bright female students were made to feel average, and their achievements were glossed over. One [subject of teaching redacted] teacher, in particular, was notorious for silencing and diminishing the contributions made by external students; if you didn’t share his views, you were marked down or verbally challenged in front of the class (which was intimidating for obvious reasons). His class become so unbearable for me that I decided to drop the subject at the beginning of year 13, despite having the potential to achieve a D3/D2 (A/A* grade).
As someone who was outwardly bubbly, confident and high-achieving, I was inwardly miserable. I felt undervalued, unsupported and voiceless. I also felt like I had to work twice as hard to receive a fraction of the praise and congratulations as my male peers. Reading through the entries before mine has highlighted just how normalised misogyny was at KEGS. The lack of consequences for such behaviour is laughable. In order to break the chain of sexual violence and harassment, serious reforms need to be made at KEGS.
Repercussions need to be harsh enough to act as a deterrent, and students should be educated on the impact of misogyny and related issues from year 7.
I am now going to briefly touch on some of my personal experiences as a WOC at KEGS. I am very passionate about STEM, but unfortunately, I felt deeply underestimated at KEGS. One teacher commented that “getting into medicine is mainly about luck” and made it very clear that he was only impressed by students who gain admission to Oxbridge. Likewise, another teacher told me that they were “surprised” by my high mark in chemistry. This caught me off guard because I have a strong academic record of which this teacher was aware of. Whilst I can understand and tolerate curiosity, the obsession with my hair made me feel othered and incredibly uncomfortable. With every new hairstyle, I was cornered with questions and comments from teachers whose main priority should have been my academic development.
That was just a snippet of the micro-aggressions I faced at KEGS, but unfortunately, there were many other instances. I strongly believe that KEGS has the potential to be great, but those in charge need to listen to their students and make concrete changes in order for tangible improvements to be made.