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Herts for Learning and Hertfordshire County Council named Britain’s best local authority tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools

Stonewall, Britain’s lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality charity, has named Herts for Learning and Hertfordshire County Council as the best local authority in Britain for tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and celebrating difference in its schools.

This comes as the charity today publishes its Education Equality Index 2016, listing the Top 10 local authorities in Britain, with Herts for Learning and Hertfordshire County Council coming in top position.

The Index measures practice and policy at all of the participating local authorities. 50 local authorities submitted entries to the 2016 Index, the most competitive to date.

Herts for Learning (HfL) and Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) leads the way in celebrating difference and challenging homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in schools. Since its inception, the Herts1125 ‘Who not What’ (WnW) group, with support from Youth Connexions Hertfordshire, has become the voice of LGBT young people in the county. As part of their objectives, young people involved have gathered their experiences and contributed to the Hertfordshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) Review.

Youth Connexions Hertfordshire has established two new LGBT youth groups this year, bringing the total in the area up to to three, and plans to extend this provision to all ten districts in the county.

The perspectives of young LGBT people are vital to the work of HfL and HCC, with their experiences collated for the Hertfordshire Young People’s Manifesto 2015. This has gone on to inform the Police and Crime Commissioner’s work around hate crime and the forthcoming Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

In light of this research, HfL places a strong emphasis on training and support for local authority and school staff as well as governors. Governors are offered termly training on tackling bullying, and HfL has developed a pupil welfare and wellbeing package that pays significant attention to the specific vulnerabilities of LGBT young people. Bespoke anti-bullying training, workshops and surgery sessions are provided to school staff, all of which, as well as its Anti-Bullying Accreditation, include preventing and tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia at their core.

Karin Hutchinson, Lead Teaching and Learning Adviser – Anti-Bullying at Herts for Learning, said

‘We are delighted to have earned first place in the Stonewall Education Index for 2016. Herts for Learning has been proud to lead the strategy to develop LGBT inclusion and equality across Hertfordshire for many years.  We work closely with our partners in Hertfordshire County Council, Youth Connexions Herts and across our schools and settings to ensure that we are constantly driving forward this important agenda.  The exciting developments this year have crossed the age ranges from work to support our early years settings right through to  significant increases in LGBT youth provision and the embedding of a strategic group for LGBT youth voice that is influencing service development. Stonewall’s recognition of our work gives us renewed vitality to continue challenging the remaining barriers, so that we ensure that every young person in Hertfordshire can fulfil their potential.’

Councillor Richard Roberts, Executive Member for Children’s Services, said:

We are delighted that Hertfordshire has gained top ranking in the Stonewall Education Equality Index 2016, rewarding our high priority for inclusion and our drive for continuous improvement. This year we are particularly pleased to celebrate the significant contribution of leadership for young people by young people across Hertfordshire, that means the LGBT voice is stronger than ever.  Young people are influencing our strategic direction and enriching our longstanding partnership work across schools, Herts for Learning, Youth Connexions Hertfordshire and Hertfordshire County Council.’

Sarah Rose, Senior Account Manager, Stonewall:

We have seen phenomenal work from all of those local authorities that have participated in this year’s Education Equality Index – in particular our Top 10 and our award winners. Herts for Learning and Hertfordshire County Council have shone with their incredible initiatives and work with and for young people, and are role modelling behaviour in its commitment to fighting bullying and discrimination.’

Stonewall’s Teachers’ Report 2014 found that over 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.

Results of the Index were announced on Friday 8 July at Stonewall’s Education for All conference, where speakers included Gok Wan and Yvette Cooper MP.

You can read the full Education Equality Index by visiting: www.stonewall.org.uk/educationequalityindex