Highland Council is delighted to have been announced as the “Most Improved Local Education Authority” and top performing council in Scotland, in Stonewall’s seventh annual education equality index.
The announcement was made at Stonewall’s Education for All conference held yesterday (28 June) at the University of Birmingham.
The index is a comprehensive benchmarking exercise for local authorities from across the country, showcasing how well they are celebrating difference and tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in schools and supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) young people in their local communities.
This year, 39 local authorities from England, Scotland and Wales took part and the Highland Council was awarded “most improved local authority”.
Cllr Alasdair Christie, chairman of Highland Council’s people committee, warmly welcomed the award. He said: “This is fantastic news for our young people that we are making Highland a better place to live and learn in.
“I am very pleased to see that Stonewall’s 2017 School Report highlights some positive statistics as well as clear next steps in moving forward. Highland Council’s Equality and Diversity Improvement Group and LGBTI+ sub-group will continue to work next year to support children and young people, their families, our workforce and our communities across Highland. Congratulations to all our staff, schools and partners who thoroughly deserve this accolade.”
Ruth Hunt, chief executive of Stonewall, presented the award at the conference to James Cook, Highland Council’s project co-ordinator – raising attainment in literacy, and Cath King, the council’s former health improvement policy manager, who through her role was a catalyst of Highland’s collaboration with Stonewell’s equality education Iidex in 2015.
Ruth Hunt said: “The Council’s LGBTI+ sub group of the Equality and Diversity Improvement Group has wide representation from schools, local authority administrations, youth services, Police Scotland, LGBT groups and third sector agencies.
“That partnership approach has allowed for the key individuals in services around children and young people to support LGBT education and actively prevent homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.”
She added: “That shares Stonewall’s vision of getting more people around a table, a greater multi-agency approach to this work and trying to cut some of those corners and making sure that we have a joined up approach.”