Schools should teach pupils about same-sex couples, Ofsted boss says

Children should be taught that there are families with ‘two mummies or two daddies’, said Amanda Spielman

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Thursday 21 February 2019 13:17
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Amanda Spielman says schools should teach pupils about same-sex couples

All schools should teach pupils about same-sex relationships, the head of Ofsted has said.

Amanda Spielman, the watchdog’s chief inspector, has backed a gay teacher, who has been threatened over lessons covering LGBT+ topics, in the running for a global prize.

Andrew Moffat, assistant head at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham, has faced protests from parents at his primary school over his teachings about same-sex couples through story books.

The gay teacher has now been named as a top 10 finalist for the million-dollar Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize for his “No Outsiders” programme, which teaches inclusiveness and diversity.

But Muslim and Christian parents, who have held demonstrations about his lessons, claim the programme promotes Mr Moffat’s personal beliefs and they have argued that the classes are against their religion.

However, Ms Spielman said it was crucial that children are exposed to differences in society and pupils should know there are families with “two mummies or two daddies”.

“It’s about making sure that children who do happen to realise that they themselves may not fit a conventional pattern know that they’re not bad or ill,” she told the BBC.

In light of the protests, Ms Spielman added that there needed to be a “careful exploration of the middle ground” but lessons covering LGBT+ topics were important.

However, the mother of one pupil who wished to remain anonymous, accused the school of “planting ideas” in students heads. Her daughter was too young to be taught “what goes on in someone’s bedroom”, she said.

Teacher up for global prize, Andrew Moffat explains LGBT lessons 'nothing to do with sex'

Mr Moffat, who has faced threats over his lessons, insisted there was “nothing” in his programme “about anybody’s bedroom”.

“We are not talking about sex here,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain. “It is about different families. Some children have two mummies or two daddies. And a three-year-old or two-year-old have to know that their family is OK. That is what this work is about.”

The finalists for the prize have all been praised by Hollywood star Hugh Jackman who described them as “real superheroes”. He said that teaching was the most important job in the world.

Damian Hinds, the education secretary, said he is “pleased” that Mr Moffat has made the top 10 and wished him luck for the final – which is being held in Dubai in March.

Last year, the government consulted on guidance on relationships and sex education (RSE) – which includes teaching on same-sex relationships. The Department for Education is considering responses to the draft advice.

Birmingham teacher Andrew Moffat shortlisted for Global Teacher Prize

From September 2020, all schools will be required to teach relationships education in primary schools and RSE in secondary schools.

At primary level, pupils will be taught about different family models. Children will also be taught how stereotypes based on gender or sexual orientation can cause damage.

MPs will debate a petition next week calling on the government to ensure parents can remove their children from RSE lessons when it becomes mandatory.

The petition, which has 100,000 signatures, says: “It is the parent’s fundamental right to teach their child RSE topics, or to at least decide who teaches them and when and how they are taught.”

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