The spirit of Pride took full effect this month at Ark, with rainbow flags, vibrant banners and posters of LGBTQ+ icons on display around the central office. We also hosted activities including a panel discussion on LGBTQ+ issues, aimed at raising awareness and promoting understanding.
The Ark community values diversity and inclusivity. We believe it's vital that we create a safe and welcoming environment for all our students and staff, irrespective of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
This month, we united to show our support, knowing that by working together we can create a more welcoming and inclusive community for everyone.
We spoke with colleagues to ask what Pride means to them and how we can support Ark's staff and students. Here's what they had to say:
Venessa Willms, Director of Education
"What I am most passionate about is how we ensure that our schools, both in the Ark network and beyond, provide a safe space for all our pupils and staff. That inside our walls, we have the right conditions – attitudes, curriculum, training and support – to ensure that every member of the school community can develop self-pride, a sense of agency and a deep respect for one another.
"We know one issue affecting the LGBTQ+ community in UK schools is the prevalence of bullying and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. While schools cannot solve all societal ills, it does fall to us, to those who work and oversee schools, to ensure that schools promote a positive and healthy environment for all in their community, including LGBTQ+ pupils and staff."
Eve Crookenden-Johnson, Digital Content Lead at Ark Curriculum Plus
"Pride Month, for me, is about community. It's a chance to celebrate who we are together but also how far we've come together: we get to be ourselves unapologetically and to support people who are struggling. Although we've made huge progress, there's still a long way to go so it's important for us to come together to share and shed light on our experiences."
Jessica Clinkett, Senior Communications Manager
"Pride Month helps me to increase my understanding and awareness of LGBTQ+ history, rights, and challenges. It also encourages me to embrace diversity and show solidarity with LGBTQ+ colleagues."
Charles Collins, Finance Business Partner (Ventures)
"Pride to me is having each other's backs. We have a community of gender, romantic and sexuality minorities (and, vitally, allies!) so that our voices together can speak louder against discriminatory and "othering" behaviour than any one sub-community could alone."