Education For All – Stonewall

Last night we attended an SYP seminar at the O Bar in Soho to listen to a talk from Luke Try, a representative from Stonewall, a charity focussed on eradicating homophobia and sexual orientation-based discrimination in Britain’s schools.

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In 2005 Stonewall launched Education for All, a school campaign to address homophobic bullying in schools; they found that two thirds of gay young people were being bullied in schools because they were gay, and not only that but this wasn’t being challenged by schools.

A huge part of what Stonewall are trying to do is to represent both gay and straight people in schools, learning and peer groups; after direct attacks and bullying they want to ensure that schools are putting gay issues on the curriculum and books are forming a huge part of this.

The Education for All project initially began with secondary schools and then launched into primary schools in 2010; one of the big issues they see is that young children are mainly reading books that deal with straight sex couples and some children don’t see their lives being reflected in these books. 19,000 children are growing up in same sex families and the big push for Stonewall is to ensure that schools offer the opportunity for children to read books that do reflect different families and 21st century Britain without posing homosexuality as a problem. A great example of this is ‘And Tango Makes Three’ published by Simon and Schuster in 2005 based on a true story of two male penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo.

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Since this, there have been several great examples of children’s books, particularly in secondary schools which is actively improving with a move away from books where being gay is the main issue and into books where gay characters are part of a much wider plot, like in Boys Don’t Cry.

It’s not just publishing that isn’t focusing its products to the gay, young individual; the media as a whole is still orientated around straight sex characters which is something Stonewall is trying to change. The lack of representation of homosexuality within books, TV & film means that young people don’t have a role model; the absence of this means that young people are going out and seeking unsuitable role models in unsuitable places, putting young people at risk.

It is of course a controversial subject but Stonewall are finally getting there, they do have books they can promote to schools and they also have schools that are actively coming forwards to ask what should they have in schools and what they should be doing. It is something that schools actively want but they do have a long way to go in terms of getting more books published and getting more young people to recognise what a diverse community we do live in.

Inspired Selection operates an Equal Opportunities policy.  We treat all employees and job applicants fairly and equally regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, marital status, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion, age, disability or union membership status.

Big Data: what is it and what do we do with it?

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We’ve all heard people talking about ‘Big Data’. Some are excited by it and some are confused by it, but what exactly is it? Wikipedia defines it as ‘a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications’. If you’re still confused, or even more excited, read on to find out what Inspired Selection heard about at the @urbanonetwork event, with speaker Francine Bennett @fhr from @MastadonC.

Up until recently, we have been used to receiving and understanding data in a structured form, in spreadsheets or SQL. However, we now live in a world where we receive data from a diverse range of sources and often in a constant stream. In other words, imagine that businesses have gone from reviewing all data in an Excel sheet to receiving it as a Facebook Homepage, with links to other sites and images connected to comments from other social networks. Businesses might have access to what people are buying, what they’ve looked at but discarded, what their shopping history is and how they’re shopping. Big Data is the idea that we have so much data, from so many sources, that we need new ways of looking at it to be able to discover things about the data subjects (usually consumers) and to predict what they might do next.

Francine introduced some of the new ways, including software such as Hadoop, advanced analytics, text mining, machine learning and network analysis all of which allow the business or analyst to view the combined data sets from a new angle and derive findings. Different publishers may be using or considering different methods but many of them will be thinking about how to use sales data to inform product development or sales strategies. What do we know about buying behaviour to make us sell more? In an industry where more and more, we’re seeing a ‘consumer as king’ market, it is crucial that publishers utilise the data they have at their fingertips wisely.

We’re in an environment where lots more data exists and where storing and analysing it is cheaper. This will inevitably give rise to new opportunities for insight and revenue growth but when handling consumer data we must use it cleverly and with their best interests at heart.