We are very proud to announce that, last week, PGHS was awarded the full Lancashire Equality Mark! We are the first secondary school in Lancashire to achieve this award, which is given to schools that can demonstrate a commitment to embedding equality throughout their practice and who enable all their students to thrive in a supportive learning community.
For the past three years, our school has been working towards the Lancashire Equality Mark. There are six different strands, and all must be achieved before the school can be awarded the full mark: Socio-economic, Race, Religion, Gender and Gender Variance, Sexual Orientation and Disability. Last term, we were working towards the final strand of the mark: disability. We were very pleased to be awarded this mark and, subsequently, the full Lancashire Equality Award.
Working towards these different strands has created lots of opportunities within our school to celebrate our diverse and amazing school community. We have enjoyed celebrating International Women’s Day, where we were able to welcome some of our incredible PGHS alumni back into our school, including Dame Sue Ion and the BBC’s Nazia Mogra. We have also sought lots of opportunities as a school community to broaden our knowledge of equality in the wider world, such as in our research competition for Black History Month, or our sessions with ‘Solutions Not Sides’ during our school drop down days. Last year, we even held our very own ‘Unitee’ fashion show, which challenged each form to create their own T-Shirt inspired by the theme of unity!
Last week, a representative from Lancashire County Council visited PGHS to see what we have been doing as a school to ensure and promote equality. We are incredibly proud with the feedback we received from the council, which described our work on ensuring inclusivity as “exemplary”. They also said our learning environment was “particularly inspiring” and wanted to pass on their congratulations to all staff and pupils in school.
We are looking forward to finding yet more opportunities to celebrate and support our diverse school community. Myself and Mrs Hall are excited to be working with our newly elected School Respect Council Leader, who is full of exciting ideas about different ways that we can continue to promote equality in school.
Miss Starkie and Mrs Hall
At Penwortham Girls’ High school, we are committed to promoting an environment where all students feel part of our community. As the first secondary school in Lancashire to achieve all of the LCC Equality Charter marks we are aware of how important it is to provide a platform for certain groups such as our LGBTQIA+ students.
We run an LGBTQIA+ group for KS3 and KS4 students at lunchtimes during the week. This provides the students with a space where they can explore their identity, make friends, have a voice and have a sense of belonging. The group worked as a team to put together assemblies to celebrate LGBTQIA+ history month. We are now working toward the Rainbow Flag Award to celebrate the school’s approach to inclusion.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s day was ‘Break the Bias’ and calls for people to imagine a gender-equal world that is free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. It is hoped this will produce a world where difference is valued and celebrated.
As a school, we wanted to celebrate women with connections to the school community. We invited former students and staff to take part in an assembly to reflect on the challenges faced by women today. It was our pleasure to interview the BBC presenter, Nazia Mogra, Dame Sue Ion and Professor Suzanne Ost, who all attended Penwortham Girls in their formative years.
They shared their insights into what had driven them to achieve success and highlighted the importance of our school’s core values; resilience and ambition. Integrity, being ethical, and the value of a positive mindset was also highlighted.
Penwortham Girls’ High School is to be awarded the Silver Rights Respecting School Award by UNICEF UK and is the first secondary school in Lancashire to achieve it.
UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working for children and their rights.
The Rights Respecting School Award is granted to schools that show commitment to promoting and realising children’s rights and encouraging adults, children and young people to respect the rights of others in school. Silver is given to schools that make excellent progress towards embedding the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into its ethos and curriculum. There are over 1200 schools across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales that have achieved Silver and over 500 schools that have been awarded Gold, the next step up and highest accolade granted by UNICEF UK.
Sharon Hall, Deputy headteacher said: “We are very proud to have gained the Silver Rights Respecting Schools Award which recognises the hard work the students, staff and the wider community have put in to learning about the rights our students enjoy. The RRSA has a positive impact on students and the school as a whole – encouraging discussion, helping students to articulate their views and ensuring they learn about the experiences of children around the world.”
The Award recognises achievement in putting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child at the heart of a school’s planning, policies and practice. A Rights Respecting School is a community where children’s rights are learned, taught, practised, respected, protected and promoted.
Mrs Hall, Deputy Headteacher
Penwortham Girls’ High School is extremely proud to have been awarded the Bronze award from UNICEF. UNICEF works with schools in the UK to create safe and inspiring places to learn, where children are respected, their talents are nurtured and they are able to thrive. The Rights Respecting Schools Award embeds these values in daily school life and gives children the best chance to lead happy, healthy lives and to be responsible, active citizens. We believe at Penwortham Girls’, it is vital that we educate students that the children’s rights are equal and universally applicable to all.
There are four key areas of impact for children at a Rights Respecting School; wellbeing, participation, relationships and self-esteem. We will now be working hard to turn our action plan into practice despite lockdown to achieve the Silver level. This award also complements the work on the Lancashire County Council Equality Charter, where we have already achieved the ‘Race’ and ‘Religion’ equality marks for excellent practice in promoting equality in these areas. We are currently working towards achieving the ‘Gender and Gender Variance’ and the ‘Socio-economic’ equality marks as part of our ongoing mission to ensure that all our students are given every opportunity to be successful and thrive in our school community.
In addition to this, we are excited to announce that we have recently gained the status of ‘Stonewall School Champion’. Stonewall is a charity dedicated to promoting equality and protecting LGBT+ rights. As school champions we are aiming to further ensure that our school is a safe and inclusive environment for all our students.
We firmly believe that it is essential that everyone at Penwortham Girls’ High School should feel inspired, nurtured and able to thrive within our school community and we will continue to work to ensure that we champion equality and celebrate diversity with our students.
Mrs Hall (Deputy Headteacher) & Miss Starkie (Teacher of English)
This year, as a school, we felt it is important to foster curiosity about the wider world, which we felt was especially important due to the considerable amount of time spent in lockdown. Specifically, we wanted students to appreciate what unites us globally as citizens and link this to the school’s core values.
This academic year, we have undertaken several projects with schools in France, Germany and Pakistan. The links with schools in France and Germany involved exchanging seasonal greeting cards with our partner schools. These cards included details of different cultural traditions and recipes around Christmas and Easter. Mrs Raine said, “The girls have embraced the letter exchanges with France and Germany and it has sparked their enthusiasm for learning languages. There is a real buzz in the classroom when letters or cards arrive. It has been a great way to use our language skills for a real purpose. Along with developing their cultural awareness, reading letters in English has also given our students an insight into what it is like for others to learn English as a foreign language. We hope to continue our links with the different schools and involve more students in the future.”
Additionally, we have worked with the Garrison Academy Girls’ school in Pakistan and exchanged assemblies and pupil work linked to our shared core values. We have focused on being curious, showing compassion and fostering social responsibility. We used both Empathy week and International Women’s Day as vehicles to drive this work. This has highlighted the experiences and challenges for young women in the UK and Pakistan and enhanced cultural understanding. Miss Wignall and the Geography department answered some questions sent by the school about the local areas and customs and in return, Garrison Academy helped us learn more about their country.
Mrs Sharon Hall Deputy Headteacher commented, “By working on the International Schools Award, we have taken the first step on a journey to enhance our students’ understanding of global citizenship. It has enhanced awareness of contrasting customs, promoted curiosity for other cultures and has shown the importance of tolerance and mutual respect. Girls have had the opportunity to make links with four schools across two different continents, gaining a fascinating insight into the wider world in the process.”
Mrs Hall, Deputy Headteacher