When you hear Claire speak you begin to understand the limiting nature of labels and badges and the way that these words go on to limit our view of the world around us. And if you have a view that education in general - and schools in particular - should be places where the world is opened up not narrowed down, then you need to spend time seeing the world through Claire's eyes.
As the first school leader to transition whilst in post, Claire has had to deal with the best of what our society has to offer and, as you perhaps can imagine, the worst. While there are many great speakers who can inspire, there are few who embody Claire's inspirational levels of bravery and honesty. Hers is a story that needs telling, not just for its insights around prejudice, acceptance, diversity and issues of sexuality, identity and gender, but because she shares it to ensure that schools are places where such issues are addressed in ways that are genuinely inclusive, open, non-judgmental and supportive.
And that's without even mentioning the legal duty schools have under the 2010 Equality Act.
Interesting times calls for seeing the world in new ways and through Claire's wit, eloquence and honesty, school communities everywhere have the opportunity to grow and evolve to be fully inclusive, caring communities in which all members can feel safe, can learn, can grow and can succeed.
What more can we ask of any school?
Claire has been with Independent Thinking since February 2018
Claire's DBS number is 001582023886 issued 26th July 2017 (checked 27th February 2018 via the Update Service)
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Feedback from recent events include:
"Wow! Very inspirational, very eye opening regarding regulations and how to support trans children. Claire was amazing. We have work to do regarding policies to support our children."
“Claire was the most memorable part of the conference for me. She said that she isn’t brave but I would beg to differ...at a point in my career when I feel like throwing in the towel she gave me a reason to be brave. The daily battles I have pale into insignificance when compared to what she has achieved – quite remarkable and very inspiring.”
"Sometimes, you come across someone, who completely inspires you and challenges your thinking. Claire Birkenshaw is that person. Claire has delivered training for the College and you would need a heart of stone to be unmoved by her courage. Her presentations are intelligent, articulate and witty and she has succeeded in helping us to move forward our agenda around inclusivity, equality and diversity."
For many schools, getting parents to the school for an event is something that is only beaten in difficulty by getting the right parents to school for an event. That said, the parents who do come to our Learning and Motivation for Parents Events always head home buzzing with ideas that are not only helpful in dealing with their children but also very relevant for their own careers and personal development.
Being a governor is an incredibly important task these days so we are delighted when we are asked to support them in their work in all sorts of schools around the country. Apart from ensuring the event is an entertaining and enjoyable one for all, especialy as it is so often on a rainy Saturday, we make sure our input is informative, relevant, up to date and guarantees all governors go back into their schools knowing what to look for, what to do and the rights sorts of questions to ask.