EFFORTS to tackle homophobic bullying in Bournemouth schools have been praised by equality charity Stonewall.

Bournemouth council secured sixth place in Stonewall’s 2014 Education Equality Index – the highest ranking it has ever achieved.

The council’s performance was measured by the assessment of three areas – the role of the local authority, working with schools and working with the local community. Their performance was compared to 45 other local authorities.

Stonewall’s head of education Luke Tryl said: “Bournemouth Borough Council deserves enormous congratulations on their performance in this year’s Stonewall Education Equality Index.

“Homophobic bullying still has a detrimental impact on the attendance, achievement and life chances of young people. It’s fantastic to see the work of our top 10 highlighted in the index, inspiring others to take action to provide teachers with the tools they need to make schools a safe and supportive place to help all young people to achieve their full potential.”

Cllr Lawrence Williams, cabinet member for culture and equality, said: “Homophobic bullying in schools unfortunately is a very real problem and it’s one we take incredibly seriously.

“This ranking is great to have as it proves that we are doing the right things. It is vital that every child has the opportunity to learn in an environment they feel comfortable in.

“We have worked in consultation with schools to educate staff on how to deal with this issue and having spoken to many of them. They are now more confident in knowing how to remove this problem from our schools.”