Research conducted by Stonewall into homophobic bullying in schools has found that teachers believe heads and school governors are doing less to combat bullying than they were five years ago.
Support from school leaders was the only area in the Teachers’ Report, published at the Education for All conference (Friday), that was deemed to have worsened since the last report in 2009.
Only 42% of secondary teachers agreed that their head teacher demonstrated clear leadership on tackling homophobic bullying. The figure dropped to 32% for primary teachers.
The picture appears worse with school governors (in England and Wales only). Only 15% of primary school teachers and 20% of secondary school teachers felt that their governors demonstrated clear leadership on tackling bullying.
The report warns that this is “no real improvement” since 2009. The situation in primary schools has actually worsened in the last five years; in the last report, 45% praised the leadership of their head teachers, and 27% praised that of their governors.
Luke Tryl, Stonewall’s Head of Education, presented the report, which shows that homophobic bullying remains “endemic” in schools. He said: “This isn’t a lack of will from the teaching profession; it’s that teachers aren’t being given the support, training and guidance they need.”
A lack of support from school leadership is made manifest in other areas throughout the report.
Only 31% of primary teachers and 55% of secondary teachers said that their schools had policies to tackle homophobic bullying, and the vast majority had not received any specific training on the matter.
Training appears to be particularly lacking among young teachers. Only 47% of teachers under 30 said they were allowed to teacher LGB issues, compared to 62% of those over 30; and only 41% of teachers under 30 were aware of anti-homophobia policies, compared to 57% of older teachers.
Concluding the report, Stonewall has called on school leaders to take a clearer stance against homophobic bullying, and for the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) to provide the necessary training to assist them in this goal.
Charlie Taylor, a former head teacher and the head of the NCTL, called it a “very helpful but very challenging report”.
He said: “We absolutely take on board the report from Stonewall. It’s something that we continue to want to push.”
“These continue to be challenging times. There is no sense that we think we are resting on any sort of laurels here. Yes, there has been improvement, but yes, there’s an awful lot more to be done, in order that we eradicate homophobic bullying from our schools and ensure that our teachers, our professions, all the people who work in schools, have got the skills to be able to spot the signs, spot the symptoms, and be able to deal with it as quickly and as professionally as possible.”