As we come to the end of Pride month, we wanted to share the work we have been doing at Surrey Square to integrate our new Relationships Curriculum that we introduced in 2021. As a school, we understood the significance of this work and wanted to make sure that everyone in our community felt a feeling of belonging and acceptance. In order to better understand the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community, especially within the Surrey Square community, we adopted the design thinking approach. This led us to adding this work to our core values curriculum under the values of community (different families) and respect (respecting differences) and writing our health and relationships policy, which we shared with staff and parents to get their feedback.
Parents: When we showed parents the policy, the majority of them understood the significance of this work, whilst further conversations were needed with others. They needed to understand how they themselves were protected under the Equality Act and how this applied to the rest of the school community. Fortunately, the majority understood it, but a couple of parents still objected to the work and have moved their child to an alternative school. We continue to work with parents to ensure that they continue to have an understanding of why this work is so important.
Staff: We've held a number of INSET days to train staff on the changes and to ensure they felt comfortable to lead these important sessions with the children and believed the importance of it. We started this work with unconscious bias training for all staff to ensure a complete understanding of how this affected the work we do as educators. We went on to ask staff to identify their own privileges as well as the difficulties they personally encounter and linked this to the importance of the LGBTQ+ work for our school community. We had identified instances of homophobic language being used and worked with staff to ensure they were confident enough to challenge this. We did this by training staff to identify the language they hear, and ensuring they were confident enough to explain to the children the negative connotations behind it. This, alongside an adaptation of the behaviour policy, has proven successful in enabling adults to better facilitate these conversations.
Children: As the core values underpin everything we do at Surrey Square, we knew that adapting the personal excellence curriculum was critical to fully include this work. We launched this work by adapting a well-known Stonewall poster ‘Different Families, Same Love’ to reflect our values of community (families) and respect (respecting others). We followed class sessions up with assemblies where adults in the school shared about how each of their families look different. Other lessons and assemblies throughout the year have focused on respecting differences. These lessons have been supported by quality books such as And Tango Makes Three and Uncle Bobby’s Wedding. We’ve seen the impact of this work through quality assurance conferencing with children who have been able to articulate their learning around this work and why it is important for the community they live in.
This year to celebrate Pride month, we have had assemblies focusing on the importance of belonging. As well as this, children have participated in a variety of learning and activities through our personal excellence teaching, including learning about positive role models in the LGBTQ+ community who have faced adversity as well as why we have Pride month. Children have created a flag that represents themselves, their community and their interests. We are proud to continue this work and to make sure that everyone knows they are welcome as part of the Surrey Square community.
Molly Angeli & Chilo Graham, Surrey Square Primary School