Lesbian music teacher ‘highly commended’ in national teaching awards

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Lesbian music teacher Elly Barnes has been ‘Highly Commended’ at the annual awards ceremony held by the Times Educational Supplement for her work promoting LGBT issues in schools.

The commendation was under the category of ‘Inspirational teacher of the year’ and is in recognition of her commitment to educating students and staff about LGBT issues to eradicate homophobia in her school in Stoke Newington, North London.

The strategies have proved so successful that Ms Barnes now shares the good practice with other teachers across the country through her teacher training programme ‘Educate and Celebrate – How to make their school LGBT friendly’.

She is the national Schools Representative for SchoolsOUT, an organisation that campaigns to make schools safe places for staff and students to be out and proud.

Ms Barnes said: “In the current climate in schools, it is thrilling to know that equalities are being recognised by teaching professionals for their importance in educating our children.”

Following recent reports from Ofsted and Stonewall which highlight continued homophobic abuse in schools, SchoolsOUT believe it is important to show that there are effective strategies that schools can use to tackle homophobia.

Statistics show that where schools implement an LGBT-friendly curriculum they find that homophobic bullying is significantly reduced. SchoolsOUT have commissioned lesson plans and resources, which can be found on The Classroom website.

The lesson plans are also available through TES Resources and Guardian Education network. SchoolsOUT said they proved popular with teachers worldwide.

SchoolsOUT Media Officer and mathematics teacher Sue Caldwell said: “Recent reports have shown the disastrous consequences that can ensue when schools ignore these issues, and we hope that schools will take up training opportunities and use appropriate resources.

“You rightly wouldn’t expect any school nowadays to only use resources that show white people and ignore minority groups; equally it should not be acceptable for schools to ignore LGBT people and their families.”