Shaun Dellenty: A brief history.

Shaun Dellenty came into this world on February 26th 1968 on the Dorset Isle of Portland. After a couple of years living directly within the beam of Portland Bill lighthouse, his family relocated to Stowe School in Buckingham before finally settling into the nearby village of Maids Moreton just in time for Shaun to commence primary education. After attending Maids Moreton Church of England School and Page Hill Middle School,Shaun relocated to the Leicestershire town of Lutterworth. Shaun attended Lutterworth High School and Lutterworth Grammar School and completed the first year of 6th form.

Having deciding to leave full time education Shaun took his first full time job as a singles buyer at Music Market (latterly Our Price) in Rugby. Shaun returned to school briefly to sit his A' levels. After two years Shaun left to work as a civil servant at the DHSS before moving onto the Town Planning Department of Rugby Borough Council.

Throughout this time Shaun was gaining onstage experience in a number of local productions, favourite roles included Tony in the Boyfriend, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Cliff in Cabaret and Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

In 1992 faced with a strong urge to follow his life- long dream and become an actor Shaun, heeding some very sensible advice from his Father, decided instead to train as a teacher. A four year course with Leicester University began, resulting in a number of highly successful teaching placements and even a job offer in his first year! Shaun specialized in Language Arts and Humanities.

To supplement his student income Shaun took a job at Coombe Abbey Medieval Banquets in Coventry. Here he soon worked his way up to the coveted 'Courte Chamberlain' role, performing to hundreds of people on a sometimes nightly basis. As Shaun's confidence and reputation as a comedian and quick thinking presenter grew he soon found himself working abroad, at promotional events around the country, on radio and television, on cruise ships, playing Capability Brown alongside Time Team's Tony Robinson, performing the Haka onstage with the All Blacks, leading student workshops, facilitating weddings and even performing in front of royalty.

Upon his successful graduation in 1996 Shaun began a year long teaching contract, teaching Years 6-8 at Goldings Middle School in Northampton. On completion of his first year teaching an opportunity arose for Shaun to tour the country in 'Heartbreak Productions' version of Macbeth, directed by Donald Sumpter. The resulting tour proved to be life changing and led to Shaun obtaining an Equity card, but on a personal note spelled the beginning of a transition of a twelve year relationship into a friendship.

Obtaining a theatrical agent, for the next four years Shaun worked his way from being little more than a non-speaking extra into lead roles in popular shows such as Crimewatch, Dalziel and Pascoe and Emmerdale. Shaun became a familiar face in the Midlands from appearances in adverts and corporate videos. Shaun's strong studio voice led him being in demand for voiceove r work, performing in a range of radio adverts and productions. Shaun also wrote and facilitated drama workshops for children and adults aged 4-24. Shaun also devised and performed a mostly improvised one man comedy show 'Alive and Kicking'.

Throughout this time, when not performing on TV or onstage, Shaun was in demand by schools across Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire. Shaun worked in a huge range of school contexts, rural, small towns and inner cities, teaching hundreds of pupils from nursery up to Year 8. Favourite long term teaching periods included Dunchurch Primary School, Gilmorton Primary School and Whitnash Primary School.

In 1999 change was in the air for Shaun, having been given his own current affairs show on BSkyB the show was cancelled when Sky bought out the company, a newly built set destroyed without ever being used. This unfortunate turn of events combined with Shaun leaving his theatrical agent and an increasing urge to experience new pastures meant that change was imminent.

In 2000 Shaun relocated to London almost overnight, his dreams of a hugely successful acting career suddenly seeming impractical and something to be relegated to the past. Shaun signed up with the supply teaching agency Teaching Personnel. One day, in July 2000, the phone rang and a voice offered one day supply in a 'lovely school in South London'.

The journey with Alfred Salter Primary School was about to begin.

My Experiences of Bullying and Education

I am always unsure about sharing my own experiences of being bullied, these experiences had a long term impact on me, but I am happy to say they were overcome and packaged away years ago. My own experiences of bullying inform my work, but they do not drive it by any means. The needs of the children in our schools today and in the future is what motivates me. Feedback from events where I have shared my experiences however, has shown that for some people my experiences prove powerful in making them understand what come children go through and to this end some of my experiences are included.

The 1960s

I was born in February 1968 on Portland Bill. At an early age my family moved to Stowe School in Buckinghamshire and we lived in a garden designed by Capability Brown, complete with ornamental 'haha' and temple. Ironically, many years later I would get to play Capability Brown as an actor. Growing up in such a beautiful place was very exciting to me, highlights included very snowy winters, swarming frogs, annual game fairs in the garden and the use of the house as a base for the filming of 'Love and Mr Lewisham.' These were magical and happy times for me. (Stowe School is now a National Trust concern and well worth a visit).

1970s

In 1972 my family moved to Maids Moreton, a small village just outside Buckingham. My memories of primary school are very clear, the smell of socks drying on the wired heater in the middle of the class-room, the frozen cream protruding from the milk bottles in the winter. I recall being a voracious reader, being slapped around the face by my teacher for getting my sums wrong and wanting to join country dancing club, much to the amusement of the rest of my class. I also recall other mums looking at me and saying 'isn't she pretty?' You see by the age of 4 I knew I was 'different'-I had no words, no concrete explanation as to why I felt different, but, to put it simply and honestly I knew I preferred Mr Biebrach to Miss Jones! Somehow I was already beginning to wonder if I had accidentally been dropped in from another planet. Being branded a 'softie' or a 'benny' (the local pejorative word for gay back then) was already becoming a regular occurrence.

At Page Hill Middle School I made the fundamental mistake early on of openly stating my love for Abba, Eurovision and a desire to do country dancing rather than sport. PE I hated with a passion. I felt awkward, ungainly and was constantly out of breath. But in my school, if you were not good at football, you were a loser or a 'poof'. There were books and activities for girls or for boys at school, but sometimes I wanted to do a bit of both; this seemed to cause anxiety for my parents, peers and teachers and so I struggled to deny some of the everyday things I enjoyed, such as cooking, poems and Abba! I went through puberty very early, it began around the age of nine. By the time I was at Middle School I was aware of tragically presented gay or stereotypical characters on the television and began joining the dots, the last of which connected to me. The word queer suddenly became a mantra in my head, a scary word that people only seemed to utter in mockery or disgust. Before I left Page Hill, one key thing happened that changed the course of my life; assembly featured a visit from an actor who talked about his career in inspirational terms. The next week I took a part in my first school play -suddenly I had something to aim for.

In late 1978 I transferred from the rural town of Buckingham to the larger more suburban town of Lutterworth. I was an instant outsider and the serious bullying began on the first day in the form of homophobic language and threats of violence. I never considered myself overtly camp or feminine, in fact I made conscious choices to be more masculine in the way I walked and sat; perhaps it was just a random put down that first day the 'effing queer' taunt, but to me who knew what I was, the taunt cut deep and made me fearful that somehow my secret was shining out of me and laying me open to more bullying.

Secondary school was, quite simply the worst experience of my life. My signing up for drama as an option made me an easy target and not a walk to school, a school day, or a walk home would pass by without some taunt from another pupil. Much of the bullying was written on fences, walls and bus shelters around the town, in very public places. I would often sneak out with a marker pen and attempt to rub out the comments about me before my parents saw them and began to question my preferences themselves. I can not emphasise enough the dread I felt in my heart that my parents would find out that actually there was truth to the graffiti. The fact that I was popular with the girls and had a string of 'girlfriends' who were just that, friends, confused my parents and seemed to make some of the other kids bully me even more. The bullying and homophobic language was not confined to my peers either, I can clearly recall breaking my ankle during a football match at the local playing field. 'Mr B' the PE teacher refused to believe me when I told him my ankle had snapped, he merely kicked my ankle and said 'Get up you bloody fairy' and had me walk the third of a mile back to school alone.

The 1980s

The early 1980s were an exciting time, the creativity and excitement of the New Romantic movement rippled into our town via Top of the Pops and Smash Hits magazine. With this came an attraction to Adam Ant, The Human League and other flamboyant acts. With my girl friends we experimented with fashion and eyeliner at the school disco, inevitably leading to threats of violence, actual violence and even someone coming to my home to threaten me on my doorstep whilst my parents sat watching television. The fear that my parents would discover my secret was very acute by this point and I made a decision that the best thing I could do was to conform. On the telly I could find no role models, the only gay characters were John Inman and Larry Grayson, overtly stereotypical characters who made me question my identify even further and led to the development of a particular kind of internalised homophobia within myself, which took years to overcome.

Out went New Romantic and in came the Mod Revival. The Jam and The Who were the order of the day, Quadrophenia and running around the housing estate shouting 'we are the mods'; all of this seemed to offer a masculine acceptance, a chance for me to be 'one of the boys'. In fact quite the opposite happened, the bullying intensified, to the point where walking to and from school made me physically sick. I can recall being egged and floured leaving a New Year disco, taunts of 'queer' and 'poser' echoing in my head.

By 1986 I was in 6th form and I had met a student who was openly gay - we are completely unsuited, but for me this was hugely significant, I was convinced he was the only gay person I would ever meet and so we started 'going out'. Around this time a news report was shown on the lunchtime news, which stated that gay men in America were dying of a new cancer called Gay Related Immune Deficiency- later to be called AIDS and claim the life of millions. AIDS became the new weapon in the arsenal of the bully and so my 'boyfriend' and I became the target of AIDS related bullying - being likened to Rock Hudson and being told we were going to die. The scary thing was, we did not know that we or other newly found gay friends were not going to die and every sneeze and every sore throat became the most frightening thing in the world. Listening to the church, the news and kids at school, maybe AIDS really was a punishment for me being born different. I kept wondering if I had lived before, in another life, and done something so terrible that I had been born gay as a punishment, one which AIDS would complete.

By 1987 and midway through my A Levels my parents found out through a rather convoluted sequence of events that I was gay. What followed was several days of virtual interrogation, suggestions of electro-convulsion therapy, psychiatric treatment, incorrect suggestions that I had been abused by a teacher or a relative and finally a year long ban from leaving the house unaccompanied. I hold no blame for my parents, they were acting in accordance with the information and values they held, informed by a complex web of generational, social and religious attitudes and prejudices.

I attempted to act in accordance with my parents wishes, I cut all ties with my 'boyfriend' and attempted to work towards my A'levels. Over the coming months I began to slide into depression, considering self harm and regularly hurling homophobic abuse at myself in the bathroom mirror. My motivation for life and for education began to slide away from under me and I began to opt of lessons, preferring to shut myself away from what I considered to be the wrong world for me to live in.

Then one day, in May 1987, I was called to the Head of 6th Form's Office to be taken to task for my absence from key lessons. Faced with having to explain myself I started to make up an excuse, but then something clicked in my head and I stated simply 'Sir I am gay and I am having a difficult time'. With that Sir's face reddened, he looked down embarrassed and I offered him a way out - 'Shall I leave Sir?' to which he said 'That might be best'.

And so in May 1987, I walked out of education for good- or so I thought...

Education:

1971-77 Maids Moreton Church School, Buckingham

1977-1978 Page Hill Middle School, Buckingham

1979-1982 Lutterworth High

1983-1987 Lutterworth Grammar School

1992-1996 Leicester University

2008-2009 National College for School Leadership

Qualifications:

B Ed (Hons) NPQH

Employment In Education

1996-1997 Goldings Middle School, Northampton

1997-2001 Over 40 schools in Leicestershire, Northampton, London and Warwickshire short and long term supply in variety of rural and inner city contexts

2001-present Alfred Salter Primary School (Y6 Class-teacher, Key Stage Two Manager, Literacy Coordinator, Continuing Professional Development Co-ordinator, Equalities Co-ordinator, Deputy Headteacher

2006-2009 Part time seconded literacy/ISP consultant for Southwark Children's Services

Shaun Dellenty of Inclusion For All - Biography March 2017

Shaun Dellenty (born 1968) is a London based educator, actor, presenter, writer and multi-award-winning advocate for LGBT+ inclusion in education and communities. After leaving state education early in 1987, Shaun worked first as a civil servant and then as a professional actor, presenter and voice-over artist, appearing in various television programmes such as 'Peak Practice', 'Crimewatch' and 'Emmerdale'. He was also the resident emcee at Coombe Abbey in Coventry for a number of years. In 1996 Shaun qualified as a primary school teacher and in 2012 qualified as a Headteacher, gaining his NPQH school leader qualification from the National College.

A survivor of sustained homophobic bullying as a child (which resulted in him walking out of state education and nearly taking his own life) Shaun remained ‘closeted’ as a teacher until 2009 as a direct result of witnessing homophobia in school staff-rooms, class-rooms and playgrounds. In November 2009 Shaun’s own school discovered through undertaking pupil questionnaires that 75% of pupils within the school and locality were being subjected to daily homophobic language or abuse, or were hearing the word ‘gay’ being used as a pejorative term on a daily basis. Using the bullying data as a trigger Shaun then ‘came out’ to his whole school community and founded Inclusion For All, a small not-for-profit charitable organisation aiming to train teachers and effect organisational change in communities, schools, faith schools and other educational contexts. Shaun began telling his personal story of surviving bullying in school assemblies and lecture halls across the United Kingdom.

Such was the rapid impact of the Inclusion For All programme on levels of LGBT+ bullying in schools that Stonewall, the Department For Education and the national press showed great interest in Shaun’s life, journey and work as he broke new ground by empowering primary schools and early years settings to take a more pro-active stance to positive LGBT+ inclusion.

Shaun has since gone on to support or speak at an extensive range of primary and secondary schools, teacher training establishments, faith schools, local authorities, hate-crime, police and anti-bullying organisations including; Amnesty UK, Stonewall, National College of Teaching and Leadership, NSPCC, Kidscape, Open University, Liverpool Hope and John Moores Universities, London South Bank, Teach First, The Open University, The Institute of Education, Universities of Hull, Brighton, Bedfordshire, Greenwich, Derby and Nottingham, House of Commons Committees and many, many more. Shaun has personally trained over 10,000 education professionals since 2009.

In addition to leading school based training sessions Shaun has also delivered webinars, appeared on national radio and television, and spoken at many high profile hate crime and anti-bullying conferences, IDAHOBIT events, LGBT Pride events and at LGBT history month events in the UK and abroad. In 2014 alone Shaun had invitations to speak to audiences in Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Hungary and Armenia; he has also delivered several TEDx talks.

In 2012 Shaun worked with EV Crowe and the cast and production team of the play 'Hero' at the Royal Court Theatre, which was in part inspired by observations undertaken by the 'Hero' cast and production team of Shaun working with pupils in school.

Shaun's work has been the feature of many articles in the national press, including Times Educational Supplement, Leadership Focus, LDR Magazine, Teach Primary, Huffington Post, The Guardian, London Evening Standard, The Mirror, The Telegraph and many more. A prolific writer and blogger, Dellenty has written articles for Teach Primary magazine, The Guardian, Gay Star News, Gay Times, LDR magazine and others.

In 2013 and 2014 Shaun was invited to help judge the Amnesty International Young Journalist of the Year Award. In June 2013 and 2014 he returned to his old secondary school in Leicestershire to speak about growing up gay, being bullied and his IFA work, writing about his experience in an article for The Guardian which went viral. In Autumn 2014 Shaun’s IFA work was broadcast nationally as part of the CBBC series ‘Our School’.

In May 2014 Shaun’s work was recommended by the Church of England in their ‘Valuing All God’s Children’ anti-homophobia resource; he led a student workshop alongside secondary school pupils and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at Trinity School Lewisham, leading headteacher Father Richard Peers to name him as ‘the best speaker on homophobic bullying I have heard’. Shaun was nominated a 'Pride Hero' by members of the public for Pride In London 2015 and he was featured in a high-profile multi-media campaign across London Transport. In 2015 Shaun spoke at the London Festival of Education; he is writing his first book ‘That Gay Teacher’ about his journey and IFA work. Shaun appears in the forthcoming film 'After 82' to discuss the arrival of HIV/AIDS in the UK.

In 2015 Shaun was invited to advise on policy at the House of Commons and Lords and he has also spoken at Inside Government events. In 2016 he advised on policy at the LGBT Lib Dems conference. In 2016 Shaun launched an anti-homophobia schools and theatre tour 'BOY' in collaboration with Essex-based HyperFusion Theatre Company and undertook various media promotions. In 2016 in a ground breaking move Shaun took his messages of positive LGBT+ inclusion to the Isle of Man, speaking at the first International Isle Of Man Diversity Conference on LGBT+ inclusion and equal marriage, on the same day the same sex marriage bill passed the first stage in the Manx Government. Shaun was then invited to lead ground-breaking LGBT+ inclusion work with Isle of Man schools by the Isle of Man Education Department.

In July 2016 Shaun married his long term partner in the Houses of Parliament. In November 2016 anti-homophobia play 'BOY' undertook an extensive tour of schools and community spaces with funding from the NHS and Southwark Council. To coincide with Anti-Bullying Week and UK Parliament Week 2016 the play was performed within the Houses of Parliament. In January 2017 it was confirmed by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement that they had included Shaun within their 'Rainbow List' of LGBT Christians and allies who were working to promote greater understanding between faith and LGBT communities. In February 2017 Shaun was nominated for the 'Inclusive Networks Awesome 100' of inspiring people working to achieve social and professional representation for LGBT+ people in the UK. For LGBT History Month 2017 The Open University produced a free online resource on preventing homophobic language based upon a lecture Shaun had delivered in a previous year.

Major Awards and Plaudits:

  • In 2012 and 2013 Dellenty was nominated onto the Independent on Sunday 'Pink List' of the 101 most influential LGBT people in the UK
  • In 2013 Inclusion For All was awarded the Southwark Good Practice Award by the Mayor of Southwark
  • In 2013 and 2014 Shaun was nominated for the Royal Air Force 'LGBT Inspirational Role Model Award' by Square Peg Media
  • In 2013 and 2014 Shaun was nominated as 'LGBT Inspirational Role Model' at the National Diversity Awards and Inclusion For All was nominated for the 'LGBT Community Group' award
  • Shaun was nominated a 'Pride Hero' by members of the public for Pride In London 2015
  • Shaun was ‘Highly Commended’ at the 2015 Excellence In Diversity Awards
  • In May 2016 Shaun won the ‘Education Champion Award’ at the Excellence In Diversity Awards
  • In May 2016 Shaun was honoured by the Mayor of Southwark at Southwark Cathedral with her Highest Civic Honour
  • In May 2016 Shaun was honoured with ‘Points of Light’ status by Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street