Northumberland top for tackling homophobic bullying

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Northumberland County Council has been named by Stonewall as the most improved local authority for tackling homophobic and biphobic bullying and celebrating difference in its schools.

Stonewall today publishes the Education Equality Index 2015, listing the top 10 local authorities in Britain and detailing the new entrants and most improved. The Index measures practice and policy at all of the participating local authorities. 47 local authorities submitted entries to the 2015 Index, the most competitive to date.

Northumberland County Council has established staff training and CPD (continuing professional development) about equalities to ensure the excellent inclusive education around sex and relationships (sre) and personal social health and economics. Many of the schools are committed to mainstreaming family diversity and challenging discrimination and identity-based bullying.

Northumberland County Council has also ensured that all schools receive prompt guidance and support to deal with any issues they may encounter dealing with HBT (homosexual, bisexual and transsexual) bullying, trans-inclusivity and mainstreaming diversity in teaching and learning.

To achieve this, the council has built excellent partnerships working with agencies such as Northumbria Police, Trinity Youth and Public Health to develop and deliver an innovative project in schools through the Northumberland E-Stars initiative. In this project, schools came together to set objectives that will impact the health and academic outcomes of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) pupils.

The Teachers’ Report 2014 found that more than 90 per cent of primary school staff – and eight in ten secondary school teachers – say they haven’t received specific training on how to tackle homophobic and biphobic bullying.

Coun Robert Arckless, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Northumberland County Council was ranked 19th in the Stonewall Top 100 Employers earlier this year and I am delighted we have now been recognised as the most improved local authority in the Stonewall Education Equality Index. This is a fantastic outcome. The prestigious award recognises good practice in our county’s education and skills service, schools, youth provision, health services and policing.

“We recognise the damaging impact that bullying can have on our LGBT pupils and are working in partnership with schools to challenge discrimination and to make our schools safe places to learn. Celebrating family diversity and promoting equality for LGBT pupils and their families is a real strength in many of our schools. Through a successful collaboration between education and skills and public health we intend to continue to prioritise emotional health and wellbeing for all of our young people and to make our schools inclusive and supportive environments.”

Sarah Rose, senior account manager at Stonewall, added: “We have seen phenomenal work from all of those local authorities that have participated in this year’s Education Equality Index – in particular our award winners. We’d like to extend huge congratulations to Northumberland County Council for all of their achievements in continuing to fight against bullying and discrimination.”

The Education Equality Index 2015 is available at www.stonewall.org.uk/educationequalityindex