A London music teacher has been nominated for Teacher of the Year in the 2012 Times Educational Supplement (TES) Schools Awards after her commitment to the LGBT community.

Elly Barnes is the Schools Representative for SchoolsOUT, combating homophobia in secondary schools. She also trains teachers to ensure they uphold LGBT-friendly policies in a programme called ‘Educate and Celebrate’.

In the classroom, Ms Barnes has used her position as a role model to educate students about the importance of LGBT issues – in one of her Key Stage 5 lessons titled ‘The Trouser Role’, she teaches pupils about the role of LGBT musicians in history.

Speaking to Pink News, she said: “I work with children every day. I see what they go through each day if they’re not happy with themselves. It’s so important to be ourselves, and I want the young people to feel confident, without fear of prejudice or discrimination.”

She added: “Education becomes so target driven, but it’s important that we care about the well-being of the pupils as well as what they are learning.”

Last year she was voted number one in the Independent on Sunday’s Pink List of influential LGBT people.

Her school, Stoke Newington School in Hackney is now a centre for diversity training.

The school has a strong mission statement, and hopes that students feel safe and concerned for others’ well-being while they complete their education.

On hearing of the nomination, Ms Barnes said: “This is a surprise, but also very confirming to have LGBT inclusion recognised in this way”.

The winners will be announced on July 6th at the Hilton Hotel in London.