Kate Chadwick is a drama teacher at Ilford School in Newham, London and she is also responsible for diversity.
I have been attending Stonewall’s Education Conference for five years now, and it is a summer highlight for both me and my pupils.
Little Ilford school is based in Newham, in a predominantly Muslim area, and I am responsible for retaining its diversity and ensuring it continues to be inclusive. As a school we firmly believe that every child has a right to a happy and safe education. By supporting LGBT rights and tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, we are protecting all pupils and making the school a safe place to work and learn.
There was some initial reluctance among staff and governors at the school around engaging with gender and sexual orientation issues at the school, for fear of offending parents, however the journey we have some on since has been fantastic.
I went to my first Stonewall conference with some ideas, but I came back to school from that conference with a spring in my step, hope in my heart, the belief that I could really make a change in my school and some brilliant ideas to try on Monday! These have only been enhanced every year that I attend.
Every year I have come away with something new. That has included new contacts of support, a new resource or website, a new teaching activity or a training idea for my staff. After listening to a speaker from Gendered Intelligence, I have attended training led by them that has now been delivered to all members of staff at my school. My journey with Stonewall has led me to become a trainer and Training Partner with them and I have spoken twice at the conference about working in a multi faith context.
What has always impressed me about the organisation has been the quality of the resources and sessions that have been provided. There is always overlap but never repetition. I always have something new to inspire me to do better. I have real trust in them. The conference gives me confidence to go out and reach further. The School Report and the Teachers Report both provide really good data that really helps to get senior leadership, governors and parents on board.
I have adapted resources such as the ‘confidence ruler’ and the terminology exercises to train staff to really probe deeper into why some of the teachers are reluctant to engage with LGBT issues. These techniques really quickly increase confidence and engagement from even the most inexperienced staff. I’ve used the case studies to teach sexuality and gender to pupils on SRE days and used the videos from Stonewall on YouTube to lead assemblies and PTA meetings.
Stonewall is a warm and friendly family where you are made to feel accepted and welcomed. I look forward to meeting up with my colleagues from the north and the south as we meet together to catch up with what we have been up to over the year. I have a valuable contribution to make in a really positive context.
My relationship with Stonewall has been transformational for our school family. We have now made a big shift towards celebrating difference as well as tackling bullying. It has been a joyful journey!