Hunt calls Newham school ‘trail blazer’ in eradicating homophobic bullying
- Credit: Archant
“I used to say the word gay as an insult,” admitted one student to a round table of pupils draped in “some people are gay - get over it” t-shirts.
“I come from a Christian family and am used to hearing my grandparents say being gay isn’t in the Bible.
“But now I understand a different side to it and I want to learn more,” she added.
It’s clear staff and students at Little Ilford School in Manor Park are proud to promote diversity.
They have spent the last few years working with gay-rights group, Stonewall, to tackle homophobic bullying and teachers have been trained in how to deal with the issue.
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The school reinforces the message that homophobic language is not acceptable and has eradicated the culture at the school through role models sporting Stonewall t-shirts.
Labour’s shadow education secretary, Tristram Hunt, called Little Ilford a “trail blazer” at a visit to the school on Tuesday last week.
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At a round table discussion he heard how the initiative had been received by students and spoke with staff who lead on diversity.
Mr Hunt used the visit to announce that Labour would enforce zero tolerance of homophobic bullying in “every classroom, dinner hall and playground”.
Speaking to the Recorder he added: “What I’ve seen today is the importance of strong leadership so that you have this ethos of diversity and pluralism and equality driven right from the top.
“You can see the young people buying into that. I also think having role models is a really useful vehicle for spreading that ethos through the school.
“This is a trail blazer, this is a leader, this is a school that other schools can learn from.”
Under the plan announced, Labour pledge to ensure all teachers are trained to tackle homophobic bullying and age appropriate sex education is compulsory.
It was backed by Coronation Street actor and gay-rights campaigner, Charlie Condou, who joined Hunt at the school.
But Little Ilford is already a pioneer on the issue.
“Homophobic bullying was never a huge problem at the school but it has stopped altogether now and nobody is using the word gay as an insult,” headteacher Ian Wilson told the Recorder.
“We’re trying to make sure the oxygen of bullying is taken away.
“It’s really important schools make sure there is a culture where it isn’t seen as acceptable.”