Posted in SEND

‘CHIPS’ Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools

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Image via Educate and Celebrate

Schools and teachers are wonderful at promoting diversity; we often talk about engaging and working with our communities. We talk about every child being special, and we encourage children to be proud of who they are and where they come from. But if a child is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT), do they receive the same messages? There are children in every classroom who feel they do not fit in with the gender expectations. These children may or may not grow up to be LGBT, but regardless we need to be providing a supportive and nurturing environment for them. Every child benefits from an ethos of mutual respect and a celebration of who they are.

Therefore, ‘Educate and Celebrate’ welcomes volume 4 of Andrew Moffat’s ‘Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools’ or ‘CHIPS’ – a series of 20 books with accompanying lesson plans for reception through to year 6.  The beautifully illustrated books feature stories of feeling different, feeling excluded, being treated badly, learning to respect everyone, not being scared of difference and, welcoming everyone and celebrating diversity in all its forms.

We are very proud to have Andrew as a member of our ‘Educate and Celebrate’ team, and we are currently rolling out the resource to all primary schools across the UK to achieve our ultimate goal of making all our schools LGBT-friendly.

Ofsted criteria January 2012 states ‘To achieve Outstanding, schools must tackle all forms of bullying and harassment including cyber-bullying and prejudice based bullying related to SEN, Sexual Orientation, Sex, Race, Religion, Belief, Gender reassignment and Disability.’

In addition to this, in September 2013, Ofsted released a new briefing for section 5 inspection called ‘Exploring the school’s actions to prevent and tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying’. With primary pupils, inspectors might explore whether:

  • Pupils ever hear anyone use the word ‘gay’ when describing a thing, or whether they have been told by teachers that using the word ‘gay’, to mean something is rubbish, is wrong, and why it is wrong.
  • Pupils ever get picked on by other children for not behaving like a ‘typical girl’ or a ‘typical boy’.
  • Pupils have had any lessons about different types of families (single parent, living with grandparents, having two mummies or two daddies).

The ‘CHIPS’ resource fulfils the new criteria and adheres to the new primary framework within ‘Language and Literacy’ and also has the versatility to be embedded within the PHSE curriculum.

In March 2013, our student and staff surveys, in partnership with the NUT and Schools OUT, revealed that a third of all students hear and use the word ‘gay’ negatively more than once a day. This is not surprising when we note that ‘sometimes’ was the top answer when students were asked if teachers challenge the negative language.

From this data, we can identify that there is a need to give teachers confidence and it is not surprising when we note that specific LGBT training is not part of our QTS. Which is why ‘Educate and Celebrate’ engages primary PGCE students in the ‘CHIPS’ training, to ensure they are equipped before they enter the classroom.

Unsurprisingly, research from The National College of Teaching and Leadership in 2010 shows that the No: 1 influence on student learning is through our classroom teaching, again strongly supporting the need to provide training and resources for our teachers. Especially when we note that 72% of those teachers said they would welcome specific training to help them better address homophobia within their own classrooms.

This new resource fulfils the needs of our teachers, students, parents and governors by giving an accessible way for our staff to teach about equality, and celebrate difference through existing national curriculum criteria.

Teachers at Birmingham primary schools who have received the ‘Educate and Celebrate CHIPS training’ say:

‘The training gave us the confidence to challenge stereotypes and the ability to discuss LGBT issues as they occur in our school.’

‘The books and imagery highlight and celebrate the diversity of family life.’

The ‘Educate and Celebrate’ teacher-training programme is available to all schools, local authorities, educational establishments and workplaces – fulfilling Ofsted criteria, government policy and underpinned by academic research. The programme empowers teachers to generate positive change within their own schools by following the ‘Educate and Celebrate’ standards. The standards not only engage our staff with an inclusive ‘CHIPS’ curriculum but advocate training, updating school policies, eradicating discriminatory language, creating inclusive display and participating in LGBT and anti-bullying events in the community.

For LGBT History Month 2014, we held ‘CHIPS’ workshops in the new Birmingham Children’s library. We focused on one of the 20 books from the resource called ‘Our House’ by Michael Rosen and Bob Graham. In the picture book, George says the cardboard house is his and no one else can play in it. But Lindy, Marly, Freddie, Charlene, Marlene, Luther, Sophie and Rasheda have other ideas!

30 students from local primary schools came to take part, some of whom were captured for ITV central news that evening which you can see in the video.

We had our ‘Sing-A-long with CHIPS’ launch on July 16th at Birmingham Children’s library. Tiverton Academy and Brownmead Primary School were the stars of the show with their compelling, fun and committed performances of songs that accompany our beautiful ‘CHIPS’ books. You can see photographs and videos of the evening here.

You can read more about ‘CHIPS’ and download the resource, lesson plans, activities and songs for free from: http://www.ellybarnes.com/primary/.

If you would like to order the accompanying books and training then please contact: ellybarnes@educateandcelebrate.org.

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Image via Educate and Celebrate
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Author:

I'm an ex-teacher with a real passion for education, politics and teaching. I am also a keen writer and blogger with strong opinions.

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