Teach First's LGBT intake almost doubles

The percentage of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people signing up to train with the education charity Teach First has almost doubled in the last three years.

The proportion of new teachers training with the charity who identify as LGBT has increased from five per cent of those who started in classrooms in 2014 to nine per cent of those who began in September 2017.

It is not clear whether the increase is because there are more applicants from the community, or because more people feel able to openly identify themselves as LGBT.

Things are moving in the right direction

Teach First, which recruits around 1,400 teachers each year, said the increase is a sign of positive progress within schools, and encouraged all schools to create a welcoming and accepting environment for LGBT teachers.

The findings follow a June 2017 report by the LGBT rights charity Stonewall, which found that anti-LGBT bullying and language has decreased in Britain’s schools, even though almost half of all LGBT pupils still face bullying.

Stonewall’s director of education and youth, Hannah Kibirige, said the findings were “hugely encouraging”.

“Schools should be welcoming, inclusive environments for all staff and pupils, but many LGBT teachers still face challenges or don’t feel able to be who they are at work.

“School leaders that do create inclusive environments will know that this benefits the whole school community, and signals to all pupils that they are safe to be themselves too.”

Patrick Dempsey, who is in charge of diversity recruitment at Teach First, said: “We want all young people to have access to brilliant and inspiring teachers from all backgrounds, and that means we need to make sure we’re recruiting a diverse workforce.

“Being an LGBT teacher can be challenging, but few other careers offer this reward. It’s important we make sure that all schools are creating a welcoming and accepting environment for staff of all backgrounds so young people are not losing out on potentially great teachers.”

One LGBT trainee said that while “the idea of being personally out in the classroom” is nerve-wracking, he’s excited about the opportunity to “change lives” through the work.

“In my own time at school I don’t remember hearing anything positive about LGBT people so I felt owed it to my teenage self to be the role model who was missing from my own education,” he said.

The “level of acceptance and maturity from all the pupils” has been encouraging, he added.

“There are certainly still challenges and issues but I feel like things are moving in the right direction.”