Inspiring Equality in Education School Resource – EACH

IEIE(Not discussed by the group but written in a personal capacity.)

This is the culmination of a Department for Education programme, funded by the Government Equalities Office to help address the findings that schools often lack confidence and feel under-resourced to deal effectively with homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying.

The programme has seen EACH (Educational Action Challenging Homophobia) lead a consortium of local and national agencies to trial whole-school initiatives in ten West of England Schools, deliver training to over 700 professionals and produce a suite of quality assured practical resources.

EACH is based on Bristol and this work mirrors that done from the Bristol Diocese of the Church of England.

March 16th this PSHE Association approved resource is now available for download. The Resource draws on decades of professional practice gained from primary, secondary, rural, urban, faith and secular schools to ensure a safe and equal learning environment for all. It includes;

  • 7 primary school targeted lesson plans covering celebrating difference, families, relationships, gender awareness and LGBT people in history
  • 10 secondary school targeted lessons plans on prejudice-based language or bullying, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans lives, social media, prejudice and gender
  • Policy and practice guidance covering what the law says, teaching about LGBT+ identities and relationships, handling disclosures, staff training and development, improving anti-bullying policies and one-to-one support for LGBT+ young people

Anti-Bullying Alliance, the Jan Lever Group and Off the Record Bristol have all contributed to the resource adding their expertise in preventing all forms of prejudice-based bullying, mindful approaches to PSHE for KS1-2 and supporting trans and gender questioning young people respectively.

The Anti-Bullying Alliance also developed guidance to support schools address homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying for disabled pupils and those with special educational needs. This includes a short and long guidance for school staff along with a literature review outlining the importance of the topic.

The Equalities Act 2010 plus OFSTED all draw out the importance of this work.

We know that homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying destroys young lives – this funding is vital to bring lasting change. Our particular role in the project is to consult with disabled young people about their experiences of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, and to make sure schools are supported to make their anti-bullying work fully inclusive. Lauren Seager-Smith, National Coordinator of the Anti-Bullying Alliance

There is no place for bullying of any kind in our society. That’s why we created this fund and why we are delighted to support EACH – so that schools and communities can offer specialist support and training to tackle bullying head on. I’m delighted to see that such positive work is already taking place in Avon and Somerset to help stamp out homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.This work will ensure children can learn in a safe and nurturing environment, free from bullying and fear. Minister for Women, Equalities and Family Justice, Carolien Dinenage

Quotations:

Teachers can help change the culture in their own classroom whilst Governors, Trustees and Headteachers can bring about whole school change by ‘leading from the front’ with confidence and conviction. Straightforward practice such as the use of appropriate language, what is placed on noticeboards (or is not) on websites (or not) and your choice of outside speakers all sends out powerful messages about what is valued, endorsed or matters in your school.

Do:

Celebrate difference in all its forms There are many, many opportunities to

celebrate difference in all its forms on a daily basis within schools. Cherish diversity in your pupils and make it absolutely possible for any pupil – regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, faith, disability or special educational need to thrive in your school environment. Test it. Ask pupils what the barriers are – and break them down one by one.

Ensure the school curriculum contributes to preventing all forms of bullying

Use your PSHE education curriculum to equip pupils with the knowledge, understanding, skills and attributes they need to keep themselves and others safe from bullying, and to recognise and challenge prejudice in all its forms. Preventative education and the development of protective characteristics are an essential element of the whole-school approach.

Be ever alert to behaviour and attitudes in your school community. Be a talking school where anyone can speak out and feel supported if they face prejudice, discrimination or bullying

Challenge all forms of prejudice If we genuinely care about the well-being of all children and young people then it’s vital not to pick and choose which type of

prejudice matters most. All forms of prejudice should be tackled – and that includes verbal comments and harmful attitudes related to sexuality and gender.

Lead from the front – There are always individual teachers that are passionate about tackling bullying but they need the support of a strong, united Senior Leadership Team that takes all forms of bullying seriously, and are not afraid to take risks and challenge the status quo if it means everyone feels safe and included.

Ask what would make a difference – Every incident of bullying is an opportunity to learn or do something differently. Consider what needs to change or even better do this before any bullying happens. What would it take for anyone to be able to walk into this school or college and feel valued and supported?

Involve the whole community – This is everyone’s issue. Make sure that

pupils, parents and carers, staff and the wider community all know that you take a strong position when it comes to tackling bullying, whether it happens in school or online. Make sure your anti-bullying policy includes tackling prejudice-based bullying and is shared far and wide.

Create forums for support and discussion – Help pupils to set up their own equality groups in school. These groups should then influence school direction and strategy in relation to prejudice-based bullying.

Know where to get advice – Find out what local services are available for LGBT+ young people and staff in your area and share this information.

Set clear ground rules for any anti-bullying lessons – These should include taking a non-judgmental approach, listening to one another, making no assumptions, avoiding

offensive language and, keeping the conversation in the classroom

Don’t:

Assume you know what’s going on – In schools there is so much that goes on under the radar. Take time to survey pupils and staff about how they feel about school – in particular how inclusive they think school environment is and whether or not they think it keeps all pupils – and staff safe.

Exclude anyone from sex and relationships education Don’t just assume that all pupils are heterosexual and looking forward to becoming a husband and wife combo with

2.4 children. This won’t reflect the families that your pupils come from – and will alienate young people that have other plans and desires. All young people need to be given the language and tools they require to enjoy positive and safe relationships.

Lose sight of who is most important – Never plan your PSHE and SRE programme based on the sensitivities of teachers and/or the perceived sensitivities of parents, rather than the needs of pupils.

Say  – ‘if only you weren’t so gay/bi/trans/ DIFFERENT’ It is simply not a solution for children to act more ‘straight’. Young people must be supported to be comfortable in their own skin, anything else is downright dangerous and irresponsible and risks serious impact to their health and well-being in the long term.

Go for short-term solutions to long-term problems – Children and young people who are bullied want the situation to change long-term. That means taking time to understand whether the behaviour is just down to an individual (who will need support to change) or influenced by a wider culture of prejudice and disrespect. If the latter is the case then it’s time to go back to the Do’s and work to change the school culture.

Make it impossible to access information – We know why schools install software to restrict what pupils can access online through school portals but this can make it difficult for pupils and staff to find information and advice that they may desperately need. Your school will probably need to revise its list of external support agencies to include EACH plus its range of statutory and voluntary agencies which offer complementary support services or training. Make sure this information is available through other means if necessary. Put up posters, hand out leaflets and ensure sources of support are clearly signposted through PSHE education lessons, including teaching about how to access support and what will happen if they do, rather than simply listing sources of support that exist.

Tips for Staff Training

One-off events rarely change habits effectively. Schools need to actively pursue, refine and embed their learning in school practice and may need refresher courses to help build upon their progress

Engage colleagues across the school in training rather than leaving a single staff member to ‘champion’ the cause. Teamwork will not only guarantee that initiatives have a wider impact but that expertise is not consolidated into a single staff member who may leave

Follow up on professional development initiatives allowing time for staff to share learning, identify new initiatives and discuss progress on the topic

Consult outside experts for training delivery to ensure it is fresh and dynamic.

In-house training can be impactful but should not be the only means of training.

Be wary of recycling ideas that are ineffective or not recognising how issues are changing

Network with other schools and learn from each other about successes, challenges and new opportunities to effectively address prejudice-based bullying

If people do not know where the policy is they are unlikely to access it. Once the anti-bullying policy has been published ensure that you promote it widely and celebrate the achievements of those who contributed to its formation.

It is okay for us to disagree with another person’s point of view but we will not judge, make fun of or put anybody down. We will ‘challenge the opinion not the p e r s o n’.

There are suggestions for most subjects in the curriculum but I was particularly interested in:

Religious Education – Looking at different religious attitudes towards same-sex relationships and experiences of LGBT+ people of faith Analysing equal marriage debates

English – Themes of love, identity, relationships, gender, sexuality and prejudice abound in Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, the Victorian novel, war poetry, contemporary literature and so on, providing rich material for discussion and debate

Attaching themes of sexuality and gender to characters, authors, poets or playwrights allows pupils to explore these matters from a variety of perspectives without it becoming too personal

Celebrating iconic lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans literary figures

Exploring the etymology of words, gendered vocabulary and societal

power, provides fruitful discussion not only for English but modern foreign languages, history, art, PSHE and citizenship.

The report is online here.

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