Inclusive education advocates say measures still have a “long way to go” to meet need for educational reform
CAMPAIGNERS for inclusive education have expressed mixed feelings over newly announced SNP measures to tackle bullying and inclusion in schools.
The new “key” measures, announced by Nicola Sturgeon in advance of an LGBTI hustings for the May Scottish elections, include teacher training in equality and bullying for all new, guidance and promoted teachers, as well as steps towards similar training for all professionals working with small children.
The measures, which the SNP are presenting as part of efforts towards “tolerance, respect and inclusion”, contain no specific mention of the LGBT+ community or the hardships faced by LGBT+ youth, who suffer extreme levels of bullying and abuse at school.
They also contain no mention of any specific funding commitments for teacher training.
Jordan Daly, a co-founder of the Time for Inclusive Education (Tie) campaign told CommonSpace: “Only very small steps have been taken here regarding education – still, this does not go far enough in protecting LGBT+ young people and we feel that this does not reflect the motion that was passed at conference.
“In order to ensure that our schools are inclusive of LGBT+, teaching staff must receive LGBT+ specific training – what Nicola proposes here is blanket equalities training, which will not do enough to address the situation facing LGBT+ youth in our schools.”
The measures contain no specific mention of the LGBT+ community or the hardships faced by LGBT+ youth. They also contain no mention of any specific funding commitments for teacher training.
The SNP conference voted to back the Tie campaigns proposals for an education that teaches about a range of human sexualities and identities.
Daly said that he still hoped the SNP’s forthcoming manifesto, expected in the next few weeks,would include stronger proposals.
He said: “Ourselves, SNP Youth and SNP Students expect and hope that the SNP’s manifesto will go much further than this and truly reflect the expectations of the membership who unanimously backed our campaign. If this is the strategy that will be taken into the next parliament, then we still have a very long way to go. Our recently published policy paper outlines a much more in depth strategy and we would urge the SNP to work with us on this, because the next strategy has to be the right one.”
The SNP Youth and SNP Student organisations have co-published a policy with the Tie Campaign that they hope will be adopted by the next Scottish Government.
It calls for firmer commitments than are included in the SNP’s newly announced key priorities, including for special funding to be set aside for teacher training in how to provide an inclusive education.
Ahead of an LGBTI hustings event in Edinburgh hosted by Stonewall, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I’m proud that Scotland has made significant progress on LGBTI equality in recent years; however, the very fact that we are still having debates like this at election time just underlines that there is still much that we need to do.
“In particular I want to see a renewed focus on areas such as education – both for young people themselves, and those responsible for their emotional and educational wellbeing.
“Tolerance, respect, inclusion – these are attitudes and principles we want to encourage and foster in modern, fairer Scotland.
“Enabling young people to make informed choices about their gender and sexual identity is about supporting them to be themselves so that they might fulfil their potential.
“I am hopeful that in the next Scottish Parliament, we can build as much consensus on LGBTI issues as we did in this session – and take another leap forward for equality.”
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Picture courtesy of Tie Campaign