Mereside Primary Academy in Blackpool and charity URPotential team up to promote LGBTQ+ diversity

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A Blackpool primary school intends to fly the rainbow flag for diversity as it begins a year-long mission to promote inclusivity among pupils.

 

Mereside Primary Academy in Langdale Road has embarked on a journey to become the first school in Blackpool to work towards an award to promote diversity in the school.

The Rainbow Flag Award is a quality assurance framework with a focus on positive LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, plus other related identities) inclusion for all schools and colleges, delivered by Central Drive-based charity URPotential.

URPotential is working with Mereside towards the Rainbow Flag Award, to encourage a whole-organisation approach to LGBT+ inclusion, as well as developing ways to challenge and combat LGBT-phobic bullying.

Kayley Miller and Jen Macdonald from Mereside Academy (front), with Jade Holloway, Nina Beavers and Molly Houghton from URPotential. Pic: Mereside Academy

Kayley Miller and Jen Macdonald from Mereside Academy (front), with Jade Holloway, Nina Beavers and Molly Houghton from URPotential. Pic: Mereside Academy

Over the next year, teachers Jen Macdonald and Kayley Miller, newly-trained designated diversity leads, will be leading the project across the academy in a bid to implement positive changes to promote positive LGBT+ inclusion and visibility.

Nina Beavers, LGBTQ+ coordinator at URPotential, explained more about the award and how it benefits Fylde coast pupils.

“We’re seeing more and more younger pupils expressing themselves in terms of sexuality and gender at a younger age,” she said.

“What we found is that teachers want to support them, but aren’t sure how to, so this is how this training has come about. Teachers don’t have the knowledge or skills, and don’t have a lot of experience with LGBT pupils because they aren’t taught about it when they’re at university.

“There are different resources we recommend for primary pupils, and others for secondary pupils. For primary pupils, they might be reading a story book with two penguin dads, as an example.

“While teaching geography, they might be taught about different communities, what flags are there in Great Britain? Maybe teachers could pop a rainbow flag in there and discuss that.

“It’s about promoting diversity and inclusion, it’s about children feeling comfortable in their own skin and feeling free to express themselves and be who they are. We’re helping staff in schools understand how to support these pupils and their families, and help other pupils to understand it.”

John Topping from Fylde Coast Academy Trust, which runs the school, said: “Mereside hopes to become a flagship school in the north west for the award.

“We will aim to work in association with URPotential and use materials from the Proud Trust to promote the core values of the award and involve all stakeholders in the school.

“The award is intended to promote a better understanding of how different people choose to live their lives, promote tolerance and kindness to others and respect for the LGBTQ+ community in particular.”

The Rainbow Flag Award is a programme designed for all Fylde coast schools to take part in.

The next cohort of schools is being enrolled in January 2022.

For more information, email rainbowflagaward@urpotential.co.uk .