Accord Coalition announce winners of 2012 Inclusivity Award

March 8, 2012

Lammas School and Sports College in Leyton, East London has been named the winner of this year’s Accord Coalition Inclusivity Award.

The Inclusivity Award, open to all schools in England and Wales, recognises and celebrates those schools that do most within the legal framework and community that they find themselves in to promote inclusiveness, the growth of mutual understanding and forge links within and between different communities.

Lammas School won strong praise from the expert panel of judges for:

  • its use of inclusive assemblies to forge shared values
  • the importance assigned to community cohesion, including the appointment of a school governor specifically tasked with supporting and monitoring the schools inclusivity and cohesion work
  • the popularity of its Religious Education, which was the school’s strongest subject at GCSE in 2011, while one of the school’s governors also sat on the local authority committee tasked with monitoring the provision of RE in local schools
  • its sensitivity towards the diverse backgrounds of it pupils, who speak over fifty languages, and its ability to adapt to the changing cultural and religious profile of its student body
  • the implementation of a cashless system in the school canteen to tackle an observed stigma of pupils in receipt of free school meals
  • the positive feedback from stakeholders, as well its strong assessment by OFSTED

In second place is St George’s Voluntary Aided School, a Christian faith school in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, which includes in its alumni England Rugby Union squad member and fly half, Owen Farrell, and philosopher, Michael Oakshott, earned high praise from the judges for its outstanding work in tackling homophobic bullying.

After the school management became aware of the Stonewall 2007 “The School Report”, which found that homophobic bullying was worse in faith schools than other schools, they were concerned that there might have been staff and pupils with a concealed miserable experience of the school, and so embarked on an ambitious programme to minimise homophobic bullying, based in a Christian context of treating everyone with respect and kindness.

The school obtained support from the Governing Body and its work initially centred on staff training. The school publically launched its anti-homophobia campaign to coincide with a visit from the Oscar nominated actor, Sir Ian McKellen, and has been sustained with further activities, including senior students putting forward the case against homophobic bullying in school assemblies, and a presentation on Personal, Social, Health and Economic education by a gay serviceman in the Royal Navy.

The school has declined engaging with those outside of the school who have challenged its homophobia work on a theological basis. The use of the word ‘gay’ as a derogatory term, which was the main manifestation of homophobia at the school, has now almost disappeared.

In third place is Crown Hills Community College in Leicester. The College, which is in the top 4% of schools for Oftsed’s Value Added Score, was praised by the judges for its effort to challenge prejudice and the dangers of stereotypes, such as through focusing on conflict in Israeli and Palatine, and for its attempts to broad the horizons of its pupils through a range of external and extra curricula activities.

Chair of the judging panel and the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘We were very pleased to have received so many high quality nominations for this year’s Award.

‘Despite the challenge of having a very diverse intake, Lammas School promotes inclusiveness and the growth of mutual understanding among its pupils to a very high standard, and we are delighted to uphold it as a beacon of best practice.

‘Homophobic bullying is an issue for all schools. However, we were very impressed that when St George’s School discovered that homophobia was worse in faith schools and it took on board the misery that such bullying can cause, that it then chose to make such an extra special effort to prevent it. We were also very impressed that it grounded its anti-homophobia work in its religious values of kindness and respect. We hope that other schools can take inspiration from St George’s and are delighted to award the school second place.’

The panel of judges of the 2012 Award were:

  • Baroness Kishwer Falkner (Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice in the House of Lords)
  • Lisa Nandy MP (Labour MP for Wigan and member on the House of Commons Education Select Committee)
  • Derek McAuley (Chief Executive of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches)
  • Manzoor Moghal (Founder and Chair of the Muslim Forum)
  • Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE (former Chairman of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis and Minister of the Maidenhead Synagogue)

The award was considered sufficiently newsworthy to merit an article about it in today’s Independent, which can be read here. It focused on the exceptional anti-homophobic bullying work of the second placed St George’s School.

Notes

For further information on the 2012 Inclusivity Award, please see the information provided to those who submitted a nomination on the Accord Coalition website at http://accordcoalition.org.uk/accord-award-2012/.

Stonewall’s “The School Report” (2007) found that “Almost two thirds of young gay people at secondary school, 150,000 pupils, have experienced homophobic bullying. In faith schools, that figure rises to three in four” (p5) and that  “Lesbian and gay pupils who attend faith schools are significantly less likely (23 per cent) to tell someone than lesbian and gay pupils who attend non-faith schools. Only four per cent of gay pupils felt able to tell their local religious leaders about bullying” (p12). The report can be found at http://www.stonewall.org.uk/other/startdownload.asp?openType=forced&documentID=1704.

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