All school governors should know and understand their roles and legal responsibilities and how these fit in with the responsibilities of the head teacher, the Local Authority and the Welsh Government. To find out more visit the Welsh Government website.
School governors play an essential role - they make sure their schools take appropriate measures to prevent and respond to lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) related bullying.
Stonewall's 2014 research, The Teachers' Report, revealed that only one in five secondary school teachers and one in six primary school teachers in England and Wales say their school governors demonstrate a clear leadership role when it comes to tackling homophobic bullying.
Under the Education and Inspections Act 2006 school governors have a duty to promote the wellbeing of all children and young people in their care. This includes any child or young person who experiences homophobic bullying. Estyn inspectors may also ask governors about homophobic or transphobic bullying in their schools.
To make sure schools fulfil their responsibility to prevent and tackle LGBT related bullying and to support LGBT young people, school governors need information and training to help them understand the role they play.
What you can do as a school governor:
- Make sure your school’s anti-bullying policy specifically includes LGBT related bullying.
- Ask your headteacher to update the governing body on a regular basis on the number of LGBT related bullying incidents and how the school dealt with them.
- Find out what training school staff receive to prevent and tackle LGBT related bullying and support LGBT young people.
- Involve parents – through the governing body and otherwise – in the life of the school. This includes parents in same sex relationships.
- Ask the headteacher how the curriculum addresses different families and LGBT issues in an age-appropriate way and check again when the policy is updated.
- Have you and your governing body been provided with relevant training on LGBT related bullying? Ask your Chair of Governors what training is available.
- Is your local authority signed up to Stonewall’s Education Champions programme? Is your school signed up to our School Champions programme? Both provide valuable support in anti-homophobic and anti-transphobic bullying.
Interested in becoming a school governor?
We’re immensely proud of the progress that’s been made in tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools. The School Report showed that although we’ve still got a lot of work to do, we’re moving in the right direction, with the number of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils who are bullied falling from 65 per cent to 55 per cent. But hard as we might try, we know that it isn’t possible to oversee the efforts of every school in the country - that’s where you come in.
One of the easiest ways to lead change at the school level is to become a school governor. Becoming a governor means that you have oversight of schools policies and practice and the head teacher is accountable to you. This means that as a governor you’re in the perfect position to influence your local school to do more to tackle LGBT related bullying.
Lesbian, gay, bi and trans people have traditionally been underrepresented on school governing bodies. Schools haven’t always been welcoming to different families, and we know from YouGov polling in “Where We Are Now” two thirds (66 per cent) of lesbian, gay and bi people would expect to face barriers to selection as a school governor because of their sexual orientation.
Thankfully, the vast majority of governing bodies are now actively looking to become more diverse and recognise the importance of reflecting their pupil’s local community.
You don’t have to be a parent to be a school governor. If you’re interested, you can find out more about how to apply on the Governors Wales website www.governorswales.org.uk and play your part in eradicating LGBT related bullying.