Inclusivity Award 2021

January 5, 2021



The scope of the awards

The Accord Coalition’s 2021 Inclusivity Award is open to all state funded schools in England and Wales. It is completely free to submit for. Nominated schools will be accessed for how they have gone about making extra steps within their particular setting to advance equality of opportunity, tackle discrimination and foster good relations between people, and especially on the grounds of religion and ethnicity.

The Award has run every since its launch in 2010. Winning institutions have faced and overcome a wide variety of challenges and been located in a variety of different settings all over England and Wales. Participating in the Award has been previously highlighted by Ofsted (see Annex 2) as a way schools can complement their obligations under the Public Sector Equality Duty. The winning schools regularly obtain national media coverage for their success (examples can be found here for the award in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 20142015, 2017, 2019 and 2020).

How the 2021 Award will be judged

Ofsted has described the features of a school with an outstanding contribution to community cohesion as:

“The school has made an important and beneficial contribution to promoting community cohesion in its wider region or even nationally. Its planned actions to promote community cohesion are underpinned by an effective analysis of the school’s context (including faith, ethnic and cultural, and socio-economic factors). The school’s evaluation of its actions shows a significant impact on its own community. Learners have a strong sense of common values, integrate actively with learners from other groups, and are respectful of others’ differences. Learners themselves make a strong contribution to the promotion of equalities and the elimination of prejudice and discrimination.”

We agree with Ofsted. The Award judges want to hear about and celebrate those schools that promote cohesion, inclusion, equality and the growth of mutual understanding as a core part of their ethos, and that nurture active citizens, who are confident in themselves, tolerant and respectful of others, and keen to make a difference in society. The judges are especially interested in the way that schools address issues of religious and philosophical belief, both inside the school and through any relationships with local, national and international communities. Judges are also interested in knowing how the school’s inclusive ethos guides its policies on ethnic, cultural and socio-economic differences, as well as those based on gender, age, disability and sexual orientation.

The main way your school will be evaluated is through the nomination form received on its behalf. The judges are interested in details about a specific initiative or initiatives established to promote the growth of mutual understanding and improved community cohesion, along with a broader range of activities (such as approaches in the curriculum, the admissions policy, the kind of assemblies provided, invited speakers, outsides visits and engagement etc). In addition to individual projects and initiatives, judges would also like to see evidence of the school’s strategic vision and ethos that underpin its work.

Judges will accept all completed nomination forms, but because of the relatively detailed nature of the information required, forms should probably be answered with the advice of a governor or/ and a teacher, if not by a teacher or governor themselves. If you know of an inclusive school that you think should be considered then please suggest that they apply, and tell Accord (contact details below) about their strongest attributes and we will ask them to consider submitting a nomination to the judges as well.

We know teachers are very busy and have tried to make the process of applying as simple as possible. Most of the questions that are asked will have already been answered, or at least seriously considered, in material already produced for Ofsted, the school prospectus, school newsletters or internal policy documents.

The winning schools will be those that have done the most to embody an ethos of inclusion. Usually judges award a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, and some schools may also be commended for specific aspects of their work on inclusion, cohesion and equality (this is another reason why the nomination form ask schools to highlight one policy or initiative that they feel has been especially successful or innovative).

The judges will access recent Oftsed or Estyn inspection reports. Ofsted stopped formally inspecting how schools promote community cohesion back in 2012, but it continues to look at many aspects of schools that is highly relevant for Award judges. This includes inspecting whether schools:

  • create an environment where bullying, peer-on-peer abuse or discrimination are not tolerated but quickly and effectively dealt with
  • comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty
  • tailor their activities to ensure all pupils succeed and particularly the most disadvantaged
  • equip learners to be responsible, respectful, active citizens who contribute positively to society
  • develop learners understanding of fundamental British values, appreciating diversity and things people have common, and promoting respect for the different protected characteristics (as defined in the Equality Act)

Judges will review the school website for the most recent prospectus, admission requirements and other available school policies. If there is any other external evidence that the judges should be made aware of (for example, involvement in well regarded projects, testimonies from community groups who have worked with students etc) then please include appropriate website links in the nomination form.

Applicants that go over the word limit will be penalised. Judges cannot accept hard copies of extra information, so if you want judges to see extra information in support of the school’s work please consider including web links. If you only have supporting information in hard copy then please consider scanning and hosting a copy of it somewhere and then linking to it.

Download a nomination form here.

What did the judges like about previous winning schools?

2020 Awards
First place in the 2020 Awards was Three Bridges Primary School in Southall, West London, for its efforts to ‘decolonize’ heavy White and Western bias across its curriculum. The school was motivated by its realization that its teaching was not representative of our global society.

In second place came Eastborough Junior Infant & Nursery School in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. It drew praise for its efforts in promoting respect and open-mindedness towards those of different religious and cultural backgrounds, and for empowering pupils to develop their own sense of identity through self-awareness and personal reflection. This included through its thorough Religious Education programme, religiously inclusive assemblies, school visits an annual interfaith activities.

2019 Awards
The Waterhead Academy in Oldham came first place in the 2019 Awards. The school was formed from a merger between two schools, one with an intake of pupils of largely South Asian heritage and the other White British. Oldham was one the towns in Northern England that suffered from race riots in the summer of 2001 and official reports into their causes cite a high degree of ethnic segregation between local schools as a contributory factor. Through it ambitious and sensitively conducted merger, Waterhead Academy has ensured more and more local people grow up and learn with and from people of different ethnic backgrounds.

In second place came Kenmore Park Infant and Nursery School in Harrow. 93% of the school’s pupils spoke English as an additional language, including 43% who spoke Romanian as their first language. Ways the challenges of admitting such a diverse intake were overcome included through the provision of English language and other classes at the school tailored for families, as well as receiving special funding to provide a counselling service to pupils, their families and staff, including in some languages other than English. The school was also commended for – unusually for an infant school – both having been made an Inclusion Quality Mark Centre of Excellence school and embedding the values of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in its ethos.

2018 Awards
The 2018 Award was given to Spring Grove Junior Infant and Nursery School in Huddersfield. The school won strong praise for the extent to which it advanced equality of opportunity, tackled discrimination and fostered good relations between those from different backgrounds. In second place came Fairisle Junior School in Southampton, which excelled in its provision of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education.

2017 Awards
As a one off and in contrast to all the other years, the 2017 Award did not consider schools. Instead it sought to discover the most inclusive SACREs (the local authority committees tasked with monitoring the provision of RE and Collective Worship locally). It proved a very interesting experiment and revealed to the judges some great practices. First place was awarded to Brent SACRE, including for a highly innovative approach to school assemblies. An Accord authored report into findings from the 2017 Award was later published by the National Association of SACREs.

2016 Awards
The winning school from the 2016 Award was the Chestnut Grove Academy in Balham, South West London. It stood out for a variety of activities and teaching that promoted a culture of tolerance and explored, in detail, a range of contentious religious and social issues. Some schools shy away from such issues and trends, out of a misplaced sense of not trying to offend or disadvantage any particular group of people. Chestnut Grove Academy demonstrated that schools can explore such topics in ways that are challenging and thoughtful, across several parts of the curriculum.

2015 Awards
The 2015 Award was given to the Walthamstow Academy, a Christian school in North East London, which won high praise for mixing a religious character with an inclusive approach in its curriculum, and admissions and employment policies. The school refrained from from taking into account the religion or beliefs of those seeking to work at the school, including for management and RE teaching posts, and provided non-instructional RE that covers a range of world faiths and Humanism.

2014 Awards
First place winning school in the 2014 Award, Newbury Park Primary school in Ilford, stood out for its innovative ‘Ambassadors of Faith and Belief’ scheme, where volunteers from local sixth forms supported the delivery of RE by making presentations to pupils, including about their own beliefs and the role of them in their life. As well as providing a worthwhile volunteering opportunity for local sixth form pupils, it allowed younger pupils to encounter and have a dialogue with positive role models from different backgrounds, improving their understanding of the nature of faith and belief as a real life experience.

2013 Awards
The 2013 Award was won by Little Heath School, a special school in the London Borough of Redbridge. In second place came Thornhill School, a secondary school in Sunderland, while in third was Oakleigh School, a special school in Whetstone, in the Borough of Barnet.

Little Heath School won strong praise from the judges for its innovative approach to RE, which soon after its nomination for the Award was submitted was highlighted by Ofsted as an example for other special schools to follow. The school’s approach built on pupil’s life experiences, and children were taught about a wide range of world faiths and Humanism. The judges also praised Little Heath for its use of dance in its schools assemblies to inspire and develop pupil’s values and beliefs.

The second place school, Thornhill School in Sunderland, earned strong commendation for its multifaceted approach to tackling prejudice and intolerance. The school developed a peer mentoring group designed to tackle bullying and harassment, as well as ensure pupils sought help. The secondary school had also formed a rap group, with respect as the central theme of its work, which performed to children in its local region. Meanwhile, pupils at the school took part in a professionally produced advert, made in partnership with the NHS, which challenged stigma surrounding mental health problems and has been broadcast in cinemas. The winning schools were featured in The Independent.

2012 Awards
First place in the 2012 Award was given to Lammas School and Sports College in Leyton, East London. Lammas School won strong praise from the expert panel of judges for:

  • its use of 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 provision of 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 spoke 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 was St George’s Voluntary Aided School, a Christian faith school in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. It earned high praise from the judges for its outstanding work in tackling homophobic bullying, which was based in school’s Christian values of treating everyone with respect and kindness. It was featured in an article in The Independent. 

2011 Awards
The 2011 Award was won by Gwinear Community Primary School in West Cornwall and Ridgeway High School in Birkenhead. Gwinear Community Primary School’s success was covered by BBC Online and among its activities remarked on by the judges were:

  • A biennial ‘Modern Britain week’, which included an Age awareness day with Age UK and a visit to a local care home; a Sikhism day; a visit from a Russian speaker and a disabilities day with workshops led by people with disabilities
  • A history month on Roma people and travellers
  • A unit on Christian charitable work in RE
  • A very wide range of speakers from different religious and belief groups in school assemblies
  • Outstanding LGBT equality work for a school at the primary stage, which included organising workshops for children led by a local charity dealing with LGBT bullying, as well as visits to the school from a gay parent to meet with teachers, parents and pupils

Meanwhile, Ridgeway High School impressed the judges after it managed to put distractions of threatened closure to one side and won strong praise for the ambition and the integration of special activities into the curriculum; the focus on local activity and its drive to widen the their horizons and give them responsibility.

2010 Awards
The 2010 Award was won by Manorside Primary School in North London, with runners up being the Anglo-European School in Essex and Balshaw’s Church of England High School in Leyland, Lancashire. The Award was covered by The Guardian. Among the activities of Manorside Primary School that were remarked on by the judges were:

  • A refugee week, which involved parents, refugee speakers from Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone and a talk from a school governor who had escaped Nazi persecution
  • Links with local Jewish, Roman Catholic and community schools
  • A Language of the Month—in which ‘language ambassadors’ teach their peers basic words in the featured language and the register is answered in that language
  • Induction procedures and a buddying system described as  “excellent” by Ofsted
  • Inclusive recruitment of governors and teachers, who represent a wide range of linguistic, ethnic and belief backgrounds.
  • Assemblies cover a wide range of religious and non religious themes, with the involvement of staff, parents and outside speakers
  • A RE syllabus which covers a broad range of beliefs, complemented with partnerships with complementary schools, local arts groups and religious organisations.

Judging panel

Previous Award judges include the former Secretary of State for Education, Lord Baker of Dorking; the Bishop of Buckingham, The Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson; national community cohesion expert, Professor Ted Cantle CBE; journalist and writer Polly Toynbee; and the incoming Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Baroness Kishwer Falkner. The 2021 Inclusivity Award judging panel will be announced in due course.

How to apply

Please complete the contact details sheet and answer the four questions contained in the application form, and return it to

If you have any questions then please email Paul or call on 020 7324 3071. The deadline for entries is Sunday February March 21st (2021) and winners will be announced, pandemic permitting, in the late spring or early summer.

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