16 April 2024

School earns Rainbow Flag status for commitment to inclusivity

by Rebecca Hannant

Holderness Academy has been awarded Rainbow Flag status for its commitment to providing inclusion and visibility for LGBTQ+ people.

To achieve the award, the Preston school has been on a two-year journey to meet several criteria including ensuring effective policies were in place to address discrimination and positively support inclusion across the whole organisation.

They also demonstrated that people and identities were positively represented across all areas of the curriculum, and that children and young people wishing to explore or express their gender and/or sexuality felt supported to do so with skilled members of staff to guide them towards youth support groups or other resources.

The school says it has demonstrated a commitment to improve the lives of all learners in the school, with the initiative focusing on the positive inclusion of LGBTQ+ learners, learners’ families, and staff members.

Elaine Jones, assistant special educational needs coordinator (SENCO), said: “It’s been a labour of love for me, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

“We have made changes to make sure we have effective policies, worked with teachers, met with governors, and made parents aware of the award, making sure we have an inclusive curriculum, and we have discussed this with students and staff to get their views on how they would like things to look at Holderness Academy with regards the support with LGBTQ+ issues.

“This is an ongoing award, and it’s critical that we all work together to get the correct support for our learners.

“This is a very important topic within education, and it’s been crucial to get the criteria that we needed to achieve the award. This has helped Holderness Academy grow and develop to be an outstanding school to support all students and be inclusive of all the needs of our learners.”

Abigail Scaum, Spectrum leader, said: “Being there to support our LGBTQIA+ students and being a safe place to express themselves is so rewarding.

“Holderness Academy is an inclusive school which allows students to flourish, be themselves and learn about their own identities in a safe environment. Learners deserve to have this space, free from discriminative behaviours and closed mindsets.

“It is also important to provide education for learners who do not identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, providing understanding and acceptance, preparing them for the world outside of school.”

As part of the school’s commitment to provide inclusivity, the school set up the Spectrum Club, an inclusive club that has been described as “fundamental” to pupils by supporting them with a safe space to socialise, make friends and raise any issues that may be happening around the school. Activities include arts and crafts, dance, games and karaoke.

Evie, 13, student and attendee of Spectrum, said: “It is important to have Rainbow Flag status because it normalises people being part of the LGBTQIA+ community. The rainbows also tend to make people feel happy, because they are very bright and happy colours.

“A lot of my friends go to the club – I do it to socialise. The teacher who runs it is nice. She knows how to run it and she is nice to me and helps me with mental health stuff. She helps me because she knows how to shut down a situation.”

Elaine added: “It’s something that is important to all our students, that they feel safe, confident, comfortable, and can talk to any staff member about any concerns that they may have. The Rainbow Flag award has highlighted the importance for having information shared with students and gaining the students’ voice on issues and asking them how they would like things to look at Holderness Academy.

“Within the approach of the award this has helped us to recognise and challenge LGBT- phobia and therefore promoting and celebrating LGBTQ+ lives and people.”

Abigail added: “We have created a safe and inclusive space for all learners who attend Spectrum. We now have a permanent space in a spacious drama room where learners can run around, dance, play games, be creative and openly discuss topics that could be potentially controversial. We see new members frequently across all year groups and always welcome whoever wishes to join us.”