Way, way back in 1998, Elly Barnes (before the Dr and the MBE!) was an ‘out’ queer music teacher, moving to a post of head of year in a secondary school in Hackney in 2005. As head of year she had close relationships with the students, families and teachers. Elly had always been an ‘out’ queer teacher, however this wasn’t the case for colleagues and so many young people and families – this is what she wanted to change!
Elly has spent the last 13 years dedicated to changing the face of the education system by making nurseries, primaries, secondaries, colleges, universities LGBT+Friendly by developing accessible resources, providing training and a robust programme which guarantees positive change and facilitates young people, families and teachers alike to be themselves without any fear of discrimination.
In 2010, Elly began delivering Continuing Professional Development Days from her school, developing Educate & Celebrate and the Award Programme for all schools to access. In 2015, she spearheaded the Educate & Celebrate programme as part of the pilot Anti-HBT bullying project with the Department for Education for which she received an MBE for her contribution to Equality and Diversity in Education. This was followed by an Honorary Doctorate from The University of Aberdeen.
In 2018, she is CEO of Educate & Celebrate, heading a wonderful team of experienced teachers and youth workers who have all made their own schools LGBT+Friendly – giving them the experience to deliver the successful programmes throughout the UK, the Channel Islands, Europe and beyond. The team continue to develop resources responding to the needs of young people, teachers and families.
Throughout the development, Elly formed a close partnership with Goldsmiths University of London and together with Dr Anna Carlile wrote a book of all the research from the Educate & Celebrate Programme released in March 2018 called How to Transform Your School into an LGBT+Friendly Place: A Practical Guide for nursery, primary and secondary teachers
‘The Educate & Celebrate initiative is innovative and visionary’ Ofsted, Jan 2016
Our aim is to ensure that educational establishments and organisations adhere to their statutory duty of LGBT+Inclusion in an accessible, comprehensive and creative way by treating everyone equally and fairly according to the Equality Act 2010.
Educate & Celebrate is an Ofsted and DFE recognised Best Practice Award Programme that gives staff, students, parents and governors the confidence and strategies to implement an LGBT+Inclusive curriculum to successfully eradicate homophobia, biphobia and transphobia from our nursery, primary and secondary schools, colleges, Universities, organisations and communities.
Focusing on 5 core areas, the best practice award programme invites teachers, students, parents and governors to participate in creating positive whole school change through training, policy, curriculum, community and environment.
Our strategies are underpinned by academic research and our own surveys, interviews, observations and evaluations 2010-2018. The NatCen Social Research report 2014 Tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying among school-age children and young people concurs with our strategies where a whole school integrated approach ‘was regarded as working better than only using stand alone teaching on HBT bullying specifically’ and that its reduction ‘was seen as more successful when teaching about LGBT people’ and ‘was incorporated into teaching throughout the curriculum’.
For the DfE project in 2015, the NatCen Social Research evaluation reported that we ‘gave a shift in emphasis from reaction to prevention of HB&T bullying along with making LGBT+ people part of everyday existence (i.e.usualised it) therefore reducing bullying because LGB&T people no longer seemed unusual’. NatCen also commented Where before a teacher felt that he ‘couldn’t or shouldn’t use wordslike ‘gay’ or lesbian’ with a child’, he now feels confident being able to answer pupils’ questions around, for example, what a lesbian is. For the teacher, a key reason behind this was that the training provided him with more detailed information about the EqualityAct 2010, which highlighted the importance of LGB&T inclusion in schools. This gave him ‘permission’ to talk about LGB&T issues more openly in his school.
Our surveys revealed that almost half our students across the country are not receiving any form of LGBT+Inclusive education with 53% of schools not teaching about LGBT+ relationships and 49% of schools not teaching the definitions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans+. In fact only 3% of schools said they had LGBT+ activity in 2 or more subject areas, which could explain why 76% of teachers said they’d had no LGBT+ specific training and 44% of schools contacted us initially because staff were not confident in dealing with sexual orientation or gender identity.
Educate & Celebrate responds to these needs by engaging all stakeholders in the journey to inclusion to make our educational establishments, organisations and communities LGBT+Friendly.