In The South

Elly Barnes receives the MBE

Gary Hart June 10, 2016

Elly Barnes, founder and CEO of Educate & Celebrate, receives an MBE in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours list, for her groundbreaking work in eradicating LGBT+ discrimination.

Elly Barnes
Elly Barnes: Photo by Kathleen Holman

The award has been made in recognition of Elly’s commitment to making schools and organisations LGBT+friendly, and creating environments that have people and social justice at their very core.

In 2005, Elly became a pioneer of LGBT+Inclusive education during her tenure as Head of Year at Stoke Newington School, introducing LGBT+ celebrations into the school environment.

Elly developed a whole-school approach that would go on to be the structure for the Educate & Celebrate Best Practice Programme. She introduced whole school celebrations for LGBT History Month and a mini Pride march for student.

Her work led to her topping the Independent on Sunday’s Rainbow List in 2011, achieving Ofsted Best Practice in 2012 and a Highly Commended Award from the TES Teacher of Year.

Educate & Celebrate became a registered charity, with Elly as CEO with a team of trainers and co-workers who respond directly to the needs of teachers. Elly continues to work ceaselessly to ensure that the Best Practice Programme is flexible, and accessible for all educational establishments, including teacher training, exemplar policies, lesson plans and support for all teachers, staff, governors, students and parents.

The importance of her work was recognised and supported by the Department for Education and the Government Equalities Office in 2015, when Educate & Celebrate received funding to make 60 Best Practice Schools around the country. Consistently the programme is mentioned in Ofsted reports who in January 2016 called it “innovative and visionary”.

In order to continue to improve the lives of young people and adults, Elly has formed partnerships with outside organisations to ensure maximum reach. This has included partnering with country councils around the country, including Durham, Birmingham and Hampshire, forming academic partnerships with Goldsmiths University and the NatCen Social Research and with the Boarding Schools Association and Independent schools.

Elly’s commitment to providing holistic positive change has been mirrored by her academic research, recently completing an MA in Education where she studied ‘school based explorations’ focussing entirely on the importance and impact of an LGBT+Inclusive education.

Speaking about her award, Elly said: “I’m absolutely gobsmacked and incredibly excited, especially on our 10th anniversary! I can’t believe that my stubbornness, attention to language, and unwavering belief in equality and social justice has been recognised. My friends, family and the Educate & Celebrate team have played a huge part in this process and we are all completely over the moon. The years of research and obsessive planning to change opinion will not stop – this gives me further momentum to continue the vital journey to LGBT+Inclusion.’’