Free article: What to expect from Ofsted in 2019 Free article: Supporting transgender students Free article: Improving teacher recruitment and retention: part 1 Free article: Get ready to win strategic school improvement funding Reputation management for schools Experience shared: Effective mentoring Nurture groups and parental engagement Tackling bullying in schools - part one Aggression at work: Managing yourself and others Managing difficult conversations The art of influence: Creating the best outcome Change management and conflict Managing anxiety at work Interpreting data for 2017 performance Free article: Ofsted inspection of SRE provision: Getting it right Free article: Know your strengths Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectation Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence Free article: HR and the successful school: A case study Free article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress Free article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review Free article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement Free article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement Free article: Transforming a failing school Free article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision Free article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing Free article: The latest developments in education - January 2016 Free article: Managing uncertainty Free article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique Free article: The latest developments in education - September 2016 Free article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection Free article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty Free article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders Free article: The governing body as a critical friend Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectations Free article: The exam post-mortem Free article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility Free article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model Free article: Effective leadership builds effective teams Free article: Baseline assessment and SEND Free article: Deconstructing the link between SEND and poverty Free article: Making performance management count in school improvement Free article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust Free article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation Free article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser? Free article: Headteachers’ appraisal Free article: Making CPD work harder Free article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard Free article: The government's Prevent guidance Free article: Improving provision for the most able Free article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare Free article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools? Free article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment Free article: Actively promoting fundamental British values Free article: Raising boys’ achievement Free article: National standards of excellence for headteachers Free article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation Free article: CPD: Less measurement and more development Free article: Challenging 
the most able Free article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability Free article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom Free article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons Free article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance Free article: Four steps to school improvement Free article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership Free article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision Free article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence Free article: Getting personal  with CPD Free article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process Free article: Parent View — an update Free article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach Free article: Effective parental engagement

Free article: What to expect from Ofsted in 2019

The consultation document has given a good indication of what school leaders can expect from the new Ofsted framework. In this article, Suzanne O’Connell outlines the main, proposed features of…

Free article: Supporting transgender students

Many schools now have students who identify with the opposite sex they were assigned at birth. Sam Garner gives a brief overview of what schools can do to support students. 

Free article: Improving teacher recruitment and retention: part 1

In the first part of a two-part article, Matt Bromley looks at ways to improve teacher recruitment and retention.

Free article: Get ready to win strategic school improvement funding

How do you make a successful bid for a slice of the government’s Strategic School Improvement Fund? Best Practice Network’s Liam Donnison asks two school leaders who have done so…

Reputation management for schools

PLMR’s Sam Dalton talks about how schools can manage reputational impact when a crisis hits.

Experience shared: Effective mentoring

Steve Burnage explores the professional development potential of a productive and focused mentoring relationship from the perspective of the mentor.

Nurture groups and parental engagement

Nurture groups are a multi-dimensional group intervention with a whole-school focus, and running them successfully depends on a wide array of different factors. In this third and final article exploring…

Tackling bullying in schools - part one

Bullying is defined as: ‘Behaviour by an individual or group, usually repeated over time, that intentionally hurts another individual or group either physically or emotionally’. This article looks at the…

Aggression at work: Managing yourself and others

Conflict management is a vital skill for managers. Schools have clear policies on managing aggression in the classroom and playground. In this article Louise Wingrove looks at dealing with it…

Managing difficult conversations

Some conversations are always going to be uncomfortable. In this article, Louise Wingrove looks at managing difficult subjects with care and confidence.

The art of influence: Creating the best outcome

Louise Wingrove looks at how being aware of your impact on others can help everybody get what they need.

Change management and conflict

Nazli Hussein looks at the causes of conflict and the best ways to deal with it, with the best outcomes for those involved.

Managing anxiety at work

With growing awareness about anxiety and the impact it can have on both pupils and members of staff, Louis Wingrove looks at some ways to tackle the problem in the…

Interpreting data for 2017 performance

Tony Powell looks at the three different ways that a school’s academic performance is evaluated.

Free article: Ofsted inspection of SRE provision: Getting it right

This article considers ways to ensure high-quality sex and relationships education (SRE), outlines what Ofsted will be looking for, and looks ahead to the next 12–24 months.

Free article: Know your strengths

Can you make inspection an enriching learning process that is actually good for your school? Heather Clements of Best Practice Network offers some advice. 

Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectation

In this article, Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectation in their schools. 

Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence

Tony Powell outlines a step-by-step approach to support schools in achieving the accolade of ‘outstanding’ as defined by Ofsted.

Free article: HR and the successful school: A case study

Adrian Kneeshaw, Headteacher of Carlton Bolling College, gives a personal viewpoint of the benefits of bringing in the experts.

Free article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress

Steve Burnage discusses engaging with good practice in the leadership of teaching and learning.

Free article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review

Tony Powell reports on the findings of the final Rochford Review.

Free article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement

A high-performing leadership team is at the centre of any school improvement mission. But how do you go about creating an excellent SLT? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network asks…

Free article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement

Adrian Kneeshaw of Carlton Bolling school gives advice on how to focus school spending on improvement planning.

Free article: Transforming a failing school

Matt Bromley offers some advice on turning around an underperforming school in a short space of time while laying down the foundations for sustainable improvement.

Free article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision

Tony Powell explains how inspectors gather evidence and make judgements on the quality of alternative and specially resourced provision.

Free article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing

With concerns about mental health rising, what can schools do to help their pupils? Suzanne O’Connell outlines the advice available from the National Children’s Bureau and how it might be…

Free article: The latest developments in education - January 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Free article: Managing uncertainty

If you are struggling with a sense of uncertainty, be reassured: you are not alone. 2016 has been a year of upheaval, with the promise of big changes on the…

Free article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique

Tony Powell provides guidance on how to use discussion with pupils as a tool for self-evaluation.

Free article: The latest developments in education - September 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Free article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection

Tony Powell looks at how to use the feedback from your inspection in school improvement planning.

Free article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty

How can an expanding multi-academy trust ensure that school improvement doesn’t become a casualty of change? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network looks at the issue and offers some guidance.

Free article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders

Adrian Kneeshaw looks at how leadership is important to the success of the school, and how to lead effectively.

Free article: The governing body as a critical friend

In his second article on the headteacher and governor relationship, Tony Powell defines what is meant by a ‘critical friend’.

Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectations

Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectations in their schools.

Free article: The exam post-mortem

Matt Bromley considers how schools can learn from exam performance data and build this into school improvement.

Free article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility

With new safeguarding guidance released, it’s time to check your arrangements and update your staff.

Free article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model

This article outlines the Ofsted methodology for determining whether a school is ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.

Free article: Effective leadership builds effective teams

Steve Burnage offers advice on motivating staff, getting the best from them and building effective teams.

Free article: Baseline assessment and SEND

Suzanne O’Connell looks at a report on baseline assessment in primary schools and it’s affect on identifying children with SEND.

Free article: Deconstructing the link between SEND and poverty

DfE statistics show a clear link between SEND and children living in poverty. Suzanne O’Connell outlines some of the reasons for this, and recommendations for action, in a Joseph Rowntree…

Free article: Making performance management count in school improvement

What do you need to do to make performance management a watertight process that makes a real contribution to school improvement? Keith Wright has some suggestions.

Free article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust

Tony Stephens, of the Co-operative Academies Trust, looks at what is the best type of multi-academy trust for a school to join or establish.

Free article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation

David Birch explains how capturing the views of students can sharpen school self-evaluation and have a positive impact on your school improvement strategies.

Free article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser?

Frank Norris offers advice on how to choose the most appropriate school improvement partner to work with your school.

Free article: Headteachers’ appraisal

David Birch outlines best practice in the management of the headteacher appraisal process and offers advice for headteachers on how to make the most of appraisal in their own professional development.

Free article: Making CPD work harder

Professional development is a crucial factor in school improvement and improving pupil outcomes, but it could work harder, says Keith Wright.

Free article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard

There is a new inspection dashboard to go with Ofsted's new Common inspection framework. Tony Powell explains how it can be used.

Free article: The government's Prevent guidance

Suzanne O'Connell considers the guidance available regarding Prevent and school leaders' responsibilities.

Free article: Improving provision for the most able

Ofsted reports are making it clear. The DfE wants to see secondary schools challenging their most able students. In this article, Suzanne O’Connell summarises the criticisms and recommendations from ‘The…

Free article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare

Tony Powell looks at the new key area ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’ under the new Ofsted inspection framework.

Free article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools?

The mental health of children and young people is at the top of the agenda at the moment. Increased anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders are bringing some schools to crisis…

Free article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment

Tony Powell interprets government guidance on assessment to help schools support self-evaluation.

Free article: Actively promoting fundamental British values

Tony Powell advises on how schools can demonstrate that they are actively promoting fundamental British values.

Free article: Raising boys’ achievement

John Viner looks at research into boys’ underachievement and reviews some successful strategies.

Free article: National standards of excellence for headteachers

Tony Powell looks at the revised national standards for headteachers and how they should be used by schools.

Free article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation

John Viner explores ways to develop a culture of continual improvement in teaching through lesson observation.

Free article: CPD: Less measurement and more development

How can schools translate CPD into genuine improvement for staff? Keith Wright asked leaders to share their views, and discovered an emerging consensus about which approaches work best.

Free article: Challenging 
the most able

Tony Powell looks at how to identify the most able pupils, and the key factors that enable the brightest pupils to achieve.

Free article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability

Tony Powell looks at how the teachers’ standards can be used to evaluate performance and support improvement.

Free article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom

Since January 2014 there has been increased emphasis on the behaviour of pupils. In this article, Jim Donnelly offers advice on managing behaviour around the school.

Free article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons

David Birch offers advice on effective classroom management and argues that effective practice relies on a combination of the consistent application of agreed policy and the development of awareness and…

Free article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance

This is statutory guidance, which means that schools and colleges (including academies and free schools) must have regard to it. It contains what schools should do and what they must…

Free article: Four steps to school improvement

School improvement is a complex recipe that takes time to perfect. Keith Wright looks at some of the key barriers to school improvement and suggests strategies and systems to overcome…

Free article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership

Louise Wingrove gives practical advice on how to become a leader your team will want to follow.

Free article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision

Given that whole-school literacy is central to raising standards of achievement in schools and that it is a key focus for Ofsted, David Birch outlines some of the actions schools…

Free article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence

Teachers are good at gathering evidence of pupil progress, but many find it difficult to do the same with regard to their own professional development.  Keith Wright looks at the…

Free article: Getting personal with CPD

Less than a fifth of teachers in England’s schools think their continuing profession development (CPD) is any good, according to a recent survey. One of the keys to unlocking the…

Free article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process

Performance appraisal is crucial to school improvement, but many schools are still without a rigorous and transparent way of carrying it out, says Keith Wright. Here, he analyses the challenges…

Free article: Parent View — an update

Jenny Townsend looks at the importance of Parent View in achieving an outstanding rating in inspection, and how comments from parents are used by Ofsted.

Free article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach

Jenny Townsend explores how parental engagement can contribute to school improvement and in particular the role this can play in raising pupil achievement levels.

Free article: Effective parental engagement

Ofsted’s Parent View means that parents have a direct influence on the decision to inspect. Jenny Townsend examines why this matters to schools.

Free article: Supporting transgender students

Published: Monday, 28 January 2019

Many schools now have students who identify with the opposite sex they were assigned at birth. Sam Garner gives a brief overview of what schools can do to support students. 

Summary

  • Ensure that the school culture is one of acceptance and understanding.
  • Transgender students can suffer with other conditions such as anxiety and depression.
  • Guidance encourages the use of ‘affirmation not confirmation’ in student support.

Knowing how to support our transgender students in school can be confusing both legally and emotionally. What is clear is that this is an area of growth and debate, and we are not currently providing the best therapeutic and medical support. The psychological and medical world is catching up, but long-term research is limited, or even non-existent. It’s also sometimes difficult to have discussions with offending or causing distress.

Current situation

In 2017/2018, the Gender Identity Service, part of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, received 2,519 referrals to their service. Referrals have increased in the last few years, but the size of the increase each year is decreasing. However, there is still a waiting list. The majority of referrals are for young people who are assigned female at birth but who don’t identify as female.

There is limited definitive research on co-morbidity and longer-term outcomes. Commonly transgender students suffer with other conditions such as anxiety and depression. Some studies show that the majority of young people de-transition and recognise they are gay or lesbian. Tavistock reports that the majority of young people they see do not go on to have physical treatment.

There is a link between Autistic Spectrum Disorder and identifying as transgender in that there is a prevalence of transgender people with ASD. It has been acknowledged by some clinicians, and experienced by some parents, that there is an appeal for young people with ASD to identify as transgender. It is a welcoming community with clear guidelines on how to behave and present yourself is useful. Again, studies vary in the statistics produced around this.

Whilst all this research is continuing, and, hopefully, definitive guidance being produced for schools, what do we do in the meantime?

Practical measures

In terms of supporting pupils in school emotionally, all the guidance points towards an ‘affirmation not confirmation’ approach. Affirmative support is better for mental health purposes and that is the ultimate aim: to best support the mental well-being of our students.

Allow the student to take on the name, pronouns and dress of the gender they identify with.

Ensure that the school culture is one of acceptance and understanding. This is to ensure that there are good outcomes for the mental health of the student irrespective of which gender they associate with longer term. We all know that bullying has a massive impact on the mental health of young people and transgender students, like other students who are ‘different’, are easy targets and vulnerable. We must ensure that this is prevented and addressed.

Legal scenarios

The Equality Act 2010 does list gender reassignment as a protected characteristic. Legally, however, a person must gain a gender recognition certificate (GRC) to be recognised as a different sex from that assigned at birth. In order to obtain the GRC you must have transitioned for at least two years and have a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria. This is currently being discussed politically and debate is taking place to allow people to self-identify as the opposite sex to make gaining the GRC (or whatever it would be called) only an administrative exercise. While many organisations accept self-identification, it is not current law.

Premises

Some transgender guidance for schools states that, because gender reassignment is a protected characteristic, transgender students should be allowed to use the bathroom and changing facilities of the sex they identify with. However, we also have to consider that biological sex and religion are also protected characteristics under The Equality Act 2010. One does not trump the other. Again, no legal case has set precedence for this.

Most schools I speak to have discussions with the transgender student how best to support them logistically. They are mostly happy to use the disabled and multi-access facilities but are likely to feel uncomfortable using their identified gender facilities. Some schools will have students from certain religions who are not allowed to change with a person of the opposite biological sex present. I have seen guidance that suggests religious people can be given separate changing facilities, but I think this issue needs further discussion and clarification.

Whilst some schools are making all toilets unisex and or open to the corridors, I am not a fan of this approach for the mental well-being of students. Many students need privacy to deal with menstrual issues. Students with digestive issues will also be more susceptible to ridicule in open or unisex toilets.

Support

It is also prudent to help the transgender student, and their family, gain access to therapeutic support. Familial support is very important to the transgender student and they may also be struggling with the affirmation not confirmation approach. Often, we can feel that supporting transgender students carries the same risks as supporting self-harming students: we are frightened of saying the wrong thing and making things worse. This can lead to staff trying to ‘pass on the problem’ and absolving ourselves of responsibilities. Remember, these pupils are more likely to be suffering from anxiety or depression, so talking with the school counsellor or other pastoral staff can be helpful.

Sporting events

In terms of sporting events some guidance recommends that students should compete alongside those of the gender they identify with. Whilst this is perfectly acceptable with younger children, there will be issues for older children where biologically male students will likely have a superior physical advantage over biologically female students. Do consider this and follow the guidance laid out by the relevant sporting body.

Outside help

Some schools are inviting outside organisations in to discuss LGBT with students which is a fantastic idea. However, do ask to see their presentation beforehand and be prepared for many students to have questions and need support afterwards.

Further information

As a school you need to read all the guidance available, those listed here are just a starting point. Check out your local authority guidance. Have discussions within your school as to your policy and procedure for supporting transgender students.

Toolkit

Use the following item in the Toolkit to put the ideas in the article into practice:

About the author

Sam Garner is an education consultant with specialist expertise in access arrangements and mental health in schools. She is a freelance trainer, and regularly speaks in schools to parents, staff and students (www.garnereducation.co.uk). She has also written a series of brief targeted CBT programmes designed to be run by school staff with students, including Exam Anxiety and Self Harming (www.rebalanceprogramme.com).

Most frequently read