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Embattled school receives award for commitment to inclusive education

11 July 2019

The head teacher and staff of a school in Birmingham have received the BPS ‘Community Engagement Award’ for their commitment to inclusive education at the 2019 Psychology of Sexualities Conference.

Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson and staff at the Anderton Park Primary School, which teaches equality through its curriculum and challenges gender stereotypes, have experienced months of demonstrations from protestors over the school’s inclusive approach to relationship education.

The protests and resulting national media coverage have taken their toll on the wellbeing of staff, who have received ongoing psychological support from Birmingham City Council’s crisis team.

The award is conferred by the BPS Sexualities Section and given to a non-psychologist whose work in the community deserves recognition by psychologists.

Dr Adam Jowett, chair of the Psychology of Sexualities Section, said:

“It was an honour to present Sarah with this award. Inclusive relationship education is vital for promoting the psychological wellbeing of young children who may later identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans (LGBT), as well as children who have same-sex parents or LGBT family members.

LGBT young people are at a heightened risk of being bullied and experience poorer mental health as a consequence. Teaching children about different types of families and challenging gender stereotypes from a young age is key to tackling this.

We fully support the work of Anderton Park School and their commitment to inclusive education deserves recognition by psychologists.”

Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson said:

"I am delighted to receive this award and humbled that you thought of us at Anderton Park.

Knowing others have been supporting us from afar has kept us going when it’s been tough.

Equality is always appropriate; there is no age limit."

Earlier this month the BPS published practice guidelines relating to gender, sexuality and relationship diversity.

The principles they are based upon are derived from both the literature and best practice agreement of experts in the field and may also be applied to other disciplines, such as counselling, psychotherapy, psychiatry, medicine, nursing and social work.

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