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Local Councils Top Stonewall Education Equality Index

Both Bath & North East Somerset and Wiltshire council’s have been named by the charity Stonewall as being amongst the best local authorities in Britain for tackling homophobic bullying.

Charity Stonewall has published the Education Equality Index for 2014 with Wiltshire Council securing third place and neighbouring authority, Bath & North East Somerset Council taking 5th place. The Index measures practice and policy at all of the participating local authorities. 45 local authorities submitted entries to the 2014 Index, the most competitive to date.

Wiltshire Council’s successful ZeeTee campaign, which is in its second year and led by young people, uses innovative approaches in its work to prevent and tackle homophobic bullying and language, and has been highlighted by the charity.

Delivered in partnership with young people, and fully supported by Stonewall, the ZeeTee campaign in secondary schools consists of all-school assemblies, and invites students to show their support by signing the ZeeTee pledge. In return young people receive a ‘Respecting Difference’ wristband and a ZeeTee badge. School staff are briefed on the campaign prior to the assemblies and they, along with students, are asked to evaluate its impact.

The secondary school campaign, which includes a short film featuring LGBT young people, has now been delivered to more than 25,000 students in Wiltshire. In the last twelve months, a new film has been circulated to schools so that staff can revisit the key ZeeTee messages with students. This year ZeeTee has launched an age-appropriate campaign in primary schools.

Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children services for Wiltshire Council said: “I’m so pleased that this great partnership of Wiltshire Council working with young people to tackle these important issues has received further backing from Stonewall. Thousands of our students support the ZeeTee campaign and are as a consequence much more aware of these issues. Gaining such a high ranking in a very competitive index once again underlines the value of this work.”

Meanwhile Bath & North East Somerset, who were awarded named Best New Entrant in last year’s index, maintained their good performance. Cllr Dine Romero, the Cabinet Member for Early Years, Children and Youth, said: “I am delighted that the work of Bath & North East Somerset Council and its schools and early years settings on equalities and diversity is being nationally recognised – and that we have climbed so rapidly in the index. All schools should be safe places for all people regardless of any differences, so I am pleased that our schools and teachers are not tolerating homophobic bullying.”

Luke Tryl, Stonewall Head of Education, said: “Both Wiltshire Council and Bath & North East Somerset Council deserves enormous congratulations on their performance in this year’s Stonewall Education Equality Index. Homophobic bullying still has a detrimental impact on the attendance, achievement and life chances of young people.

“It’s fantastic to see the work of our Top 10 highlighted in the Index, inspiring others to take action to provide teachers with the tools they need to make schools a safe and supportive place to help all young people to achieve their full potential.”

The Education Equality Index is free to enter for any local authority in England, Scotland and Wales. Each submission is marked a number of times in order to ensure consistency and fairness, and every participating local authority receives tailored feedback from Stonewall. This highlights achievements and examples of good practice as well as identifying future actions to develop the work being done to celebrate difference and prevent and tackle homophobic bullying.

The Index is available to view in full on the Stonewall website.