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Putting Inclusion at the Heart of Learning

Students and staff in South Tyneside are celebrating School Diversity this week (20 - 26 June).

The national campaign celebrates LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans plus identities) equality in education.

At Mortimer Community College, a range of activities are being organised from a whole-school diversity quiz to an assembly focusing on the history and importance of the Pride movement. In addition, students will also have the opportunity to hear from guest speaker Smajo Beso, who survived the genocide in Bosnia, who will talk about the need to fight against hatred and prejudice.  As part of a bid to promote diversity in careers, Irene Hays, Chair of Hays Travel, will also speak to students.

Mrs Joanne Thornton, Deputy Headteacher (Quality of Education) said: "As a school we are committed to ensuring everyone feels included. Everyone is diverse, we are all unique. Mortimer wants to promote an environment that invites, encourages and supports those differences and guarantees an inclusive, diverse and safe environment to learn and grow."

Mortimer Community College is working towards achieving the Rainbow Award which is a national quality assurance framework focusing on positive LGBT+ inclusion and visibility. It is also part of the Department for Education's Inclusion in Schools project which helps schools reduce the barriers to participation that young people face by creating an inclusive environment in which pupils can thrive.

Councillor Adam Ellison, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: "Growing up LGBT+ can be incredibly tough for some young people. Almost half experience bullying while a staggering 86 per cent still hear homophobic remarks which can have a negative impact on their wellbeing and school attainment.

"I, therefore, applaud Mortimer Community College for the proactive work it is doing to eliminate prejudice and creating a school environment where everyone is free to be themselves without fear of reprisal.

"Everyone should be able to live as their authentic selves. Initiatives such as School Diversity Week and embedding these values of equality take us closer to achieving that."

Councillor Ruth Berkley, Lead Member for the Voluntary Sector, Partnerships and Equalities, added: "It is vital that all our young people can be themselves and learn in an environment which is accepting and tolerant.

"By taking part in Schools Diversity Week schools are demonstrating their commitment to inclusive school environments where every young person can be themselves and thrive. It is also an opportunity for all students to understand the importance of diversity in the world."

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