2015 Inclusivity Award winners announced

April 10, 2015
2015 Inclusity Award trophies

The trophies for this year’s winning schools

A non-discriminatory faith ethos school has won first place in this year’s Accord Inclusivity Award. The Walthamstow Academy, a Christian school in North East London, won high praise from the judging panel for several aspects of it work, including:

  • having no regard for the religion or beliefs of pupils or pupil’s family in its oversubscription policy
  • choosing not to take into account the religion or beliefs of those seeking to work at the school, including for management and RE teaching posts
  • providing non-instructional RE that covers a range of world faiths and Humanism
  • providing Sex and Relationships Education and, in several parts of the curriculum, tackling issues of racial discrimination and promoting of LGBT equality
  • embracing an inclusive ethos, while simultaneously making big strides in terms of academic attainment

Chair of the judging panel, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘Schools can make a profound impact towards cohesion and broadening horizons in their local community, and many neglect their contribution in this area. The Walthamstow Academy provides a model for other schools, and especially those with a religious character. It shows schools can maintain a religious ethos, while providing an open curriculum and refraining from any religiously discriminatory practices. The panel is delighted to award it first place.’

Head teacher at the school, Emma Skae, said ‘We don’t just tolerate different beliefs here, because that’s a passive response. We encourage our pupils to talk about and share aspects of their faith, and we’re very proud to welcome pupils of all faiths and none.’

In second place came Brinsworth Comprehensive School in Brinsworth, South Yorkshire. Aspects of its work that were commended by the judges included its seating policy, which ensures that students work with a different combination of peers in every learning situation; its monitoring of racist incidents and bullying, including through students surveys; the extent of its exploration of community cohesion in Religious Education, as well as its teaching of civic values and the basics of the legal system.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘Brinsworth School provides an example for others. With the age of criminal responsibility set at 10 years old in the UK, the judges were impressed by its teaching about the UK’s legal system, ensuring pupils were better aware of their responsibilities. Segregation within schools is also an underreported problem, so the judges were impressed that the school had identified these barriers and then innovatively sought to address them through its seating arrangements.’

Head teacher at the school, Mr Richard Fone, said ‘We are very proud of the fact that our school is a harmonious, cohesive community. This has been an important strand of our work for many years and we see the promotion of fundamental values of tolerance, respect and understanding as vital components of our preparation of young people to take their place in modern British society.’

In third place was Home Farm Primary School in Colchester. Aspects of its work that stood out included the breadth of beliefs covered in school assemblies; visits to different places of worship; building support amongst parents to build awareness of those from differing cultural and religious backgrounds, as well as reaching out to local parents who did not speak English as their first language, so that they felt happy and encouraged to send their child to the school.

Head teacher at the school, Mr Richard Potter, said ‘Our school works hard to raise awareness of all faiths and cultures. Our pupils are proud of the work that they are involved in that develops their understanding of their role as a global citizen; to understand the cultures and faiths of others as well as their grasp of fundamental British Values. We are proud to have been recognised for this award, with the credit given to the pupils and parents for engaging with our curriculum.’

Recognised by Ofsted as a project that schools could participate in so as to support their work in advancing equalities, the annual Inclusivity Award has been running since 2009. It rewards schools that that work hardest within their particular setting to promote inclusivity and the growth of mutual understanding, which particular regard to that on the grounds of religion and belief. Past winners have faced a wide array of differing challenges.

The judges for the 2015 Award were:

  • Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard, Head of Research at the national race equality think tank The Runnymede Trust
  • Maria Exall, Chair of the Trade Union Congress LGBT committee and of the Cutting Edge Consortium, which campaigns for the elimination of homophobia and transphobia, including that which is faith based
  • Baroness Kishwer Falkner – her interests include foreign affairs and diversity and equality, and she is Chancellor of the University of Northampton
  • The Revd Iain McDonald, a United Reformed Church clergyman and activist
  • Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE – Minister at the Maidenhead Synagogue and Chair of the Accord Coalition

The Award is open to all schools in England and Wales and nominations for the 2016 Award will be accepted from the beginning of September. Please contact paul@accordcoalition.org.uk to be notified when nominations re-open.

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