A secondary school has won a national education award for its positive attitude towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning people.
Sir Herbert Leon Academy is the first secondary school in England to win the Gold Award for LGBTQ+ Inclusion.
The Bletchley academy has developed its culture of inclusion so successfully that it has become the "natural way of thinking", the judges heard.
It has gender neutral toilets, LGBTQ+ wall displays, and a special parent ambassador committed to inclusion.
The judges said: "Leadership of diversity and inclusion permeates all the way through the organisation. The award structure has provided direction and focus. LGBTQ+ Inclusion is a major part of the academy’s strategy and the governing body has a sharp focus around LGBT+ inclusion in education. Staff are developed regularly in this area and adopt a ‘ready not reactive’ approach to LGBTQ+ inclusion."
The award was established in 2018 by the Centre for LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Education which is based within the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett University.
Carnegie's Dean, Professor Damien Page, said: “Achieving this award is not just recognition of a whole-school approach to LGBTQ+ Inclusion, it’s a recognition of the school’s commitment to improving the life chances of children."
He added; “We’re truly proud to have worked with Sir Herbert Leon Academy in this vital work and look forward to further collaboration. It is thrilling and humbling to learn about Sir Herbert Leon Academy and the many other schools engaged in the quality award process. I’d like to offer my congratulations on this deserved recognition.”
Staff inclusion is viewed to be just as important as pupil inclusion throughout the school, said the judges, who praised the school's case it put forward for the award.
"The evidence talks of diversity and inclusion as being a core part of the academy ’s culture and part of their day-to-day agenda," they said.
Sir Herbert Leon achieved excellence in all eight of the award categories: leadership and strategy, governance, professional learning and development, curriculum, physical environment, emotional environment, working in partnership with students, and working in partnership with parents.
The academy's principal, Dr Jo Trevenna, said:“This Gold Award recognises that LGBTQ+ inclusion is not an add-on at our academy. Our team, led by our curriculum leader for PSHE, Lorne Murray, has worked incredibly hard to ensure that there is a strategic approach to inclusion and this is evident in the palpably inclusive culture of the whole academy. Our team truly believe in LGBTQ+ inclusion and this is clear across the academy.”
David Hatchett, national director of secondary schools for Academies Enterprise Trust, which sponsors Sir Herbert Leon Academy, said: “This is an outstanding achievement at Sir Herbert Leon Academy which is well-earned and reflects the Academy’s highly inclusive ethos. I am deeply proud of the leadership team and staff for making Sir Herbert Leon Academy such a positive and supportive environment for our students who identify as LGBTQ+. At AET we want all of our students, including those who identify at LGBTQ+, to be inspired to go on to lead a remarkable life. This Gold Award is an inspiration to all of our other academies of what can be achieved, and how we can make the secondary years a remarkable experience for everyone within our Trust."