A Community Primary School in Cornwall and a High School in Birkenhead have been named as winners of the 2011 Accord Coalition Inclusivity Awards.
The Inclusivity Award recognises and celebrates those schools that do most to promote inclusiveness and community cohesion.
For the first time the judging panel of public figures has decided to recognise the best primary/ junior school and also the best secondary school.
The Accord Coalition, which draws together religious groups, humanists, a leading teaching union and other NGOs, seeks to promote community schooling at every level - and in particular works for the reform of policy on faith schools in a non-discriminatory direction.
The winner of the primary/ junior school section in the Accord Inclusivity Award, Gwinear Community Primary School, gained strong praise from the judges for its outstanding equality work.
This included organising workshops for children led by a local charity dealing with LGBT bullying, as well as visits to the school from a gay parent to meet with teachers, parents and pupils.
The judges were also impressed at the wide range of work that the school undertook to teach about different religions and cultures, which they found all the more impressive when they considered that the school is located in what could be described as a relatively 'mono-cultural' area.
Among the activities the school undertook on were:
· A biennial ‘Modern Britain week’, which this year included an Age awareness day with Age UK and a visit to a local care home, a Sikhism day, a visit from a Russian speaker, and a Disabilities day with workshops led by people with disabilities
· A history month on Roma people and travellers
· A unit on Christian charitable work in RE
· A very wide range of speakers from different religion and belief groups in school assemblies
Highly commended in the primary/ junior school section was Allerton Primary and Nursery School in Bradford, which won praise for the involvement of parents and a range of stakeholders in celebrating the school’s diversity, as well as an innovative approach in the school’s assemblies that sought to be inclusive of children from a range of different backgrounds.
The winner of the secondary school section, Ridgeway High School, was recently threatened with closure by the local authority to allow a reorganisation of schools in the area and three years ago was listed as a ‘National Challenge’ school due to poor GCSE performance.
The quickly-improving school won strong praise for the ambition and the integration of special activities into the curriculum; the focus on local activity and the drive to widen the reach of pupils, expand their horizons and give them responsibility.
The judges were all the more impressed by the school’s work and commitment when they took into account that the school is also located in a relatively mono-cultural area.
Second in the secondary school section was Cumberland Comprehensive School in Newham. The judges commended the school’s considerable attempts to foster mutual respect through its provision of Collective Worship, PSHE and its bullying policy, as well as the strong focus on a broad and balanced RE in the school curriculum.
This year’s Accord Inclusivity Award judges were:
· Dr Mary Bousted, the General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL)
· Simon Barrow, co-director of the theological and Christian think-tank Ekklesia
· Baroness Kishwer Falkner, a working Peer and expert on human rights and multiculturalism
· Fiona Millar, journalist and education campaigner
· Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, minister of the Maidenhead Synagogue and Chair of the Accord Coalition
Award judge Baroness Kishwer Falkner praised all the finalists: “The successful schools from this year’s Award will help ensure the social health of 21st century Britain and that our next generation grow up at ease with itself.”
She added: “The range of winning schools also help to demonstrate how all schools can make an outstanding contribution towards promoting better mutual understanding, regardless of how diverse is their intake and local community.
"The winning schools from this year’s Award are outstanding, and we hope that they will inspire other schools to operate in more inclusive ways.”