Exceeding Expectations is a multi-agency partnership with Manchester City Council, Salford City Council, Manchester Healthy Schools, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation and Hope Theatre Company. The award winning initiative aims to support schools in tackling homophobic language and bullying. It involves a performance by Hope Theatre Company, training for school staff, a comprehensive schools pack, support in developing an anti-bullying policy, in-school peer support groups and individual school evaluation reports.

The programme will be touring Manchester and Salford schools, visiting Wentworth High School, Salford Academy, Buile Hill, Parrs Wood, Manchester Health Academy, William Hulme and Newall Green.

Hollyoaks star Kieron Richardson, an ex pupil of Salford Academy comments; “The work of Exceeding Expectations is fantastic. It’s so great to hear what a positive impact the play is creating in schools. I’m proud that students are talking about my coming out story as part of the project. We need to work together to end homophobia in our schools.”

Stonewall’s School Report 2012 found that 99% of young people hear homophobic language in school and that 41% have attempted or thought about taking their own life directly because of bullying.

Research carried out by Exceeding Expectations in 2011 on young people’s responses in Manchester schools found that;
97% of pupils had heard the word ‘gay’ being used negatively in school ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’
Only 9% of pupils thought that a pupil or member of staff would feel safe telling people they were LGB in school
44% of pupils had witnessed homophobic bullying in school.
28% of pupils felt that homophobic language or bullying was dealt with well in school.
13% said that reporting bullying actually resulted in anything being done about it
21% of pupils said they would report homophobic bullying or stand up for a pupil who was being bullied, this rose to 93% after students watched the play

In addition 75% of staff had witnessed homophobic bullying in school and 58% did not feel that their school was a safe and welcoming place for lesbian, gay or bisexual pupils.

Annie Emery, Head of Services for The Lesbian & Gay Foundation comments; “these statistics are shocking and show that significant work is needed to tackle homophobia in schools. Every young person has a right to be educated in an environment free from bullying and fear, giving them the chance to succeed and be themselves.”

For more information on the programme visit www.exceedingexpectations.org.uk

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