Gay teacher threatened over LGBT lessons named as finalist for world’s top teaching award

Actor Hugh Jackman describes teachers as 'real superheroes' as he unveils top 10 finalists

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Thursday 21 February 2019 01:38 GMT
Birmingham teacher Andrew Moffat shortlisted for Global Teacher Prize

A gay teacher who has been threatened over lessons on homosexuality has been named as a top 10 finalist for one of the world’s top teaching awards.

Andrew Moffat, assistant head and a personal social health education teacher at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham, has faced protests from parents in recent weeks for teaching primary school children about LGBT equality.

But now he is through to the last stage of the million-dollar Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize - where there were 10,000 nominations from 179 countries.

The top 10 finalists have all been praised by Hollywood star Hugh Jackman who described them as “real superheroes”, adding that teaching was the most important job in the world.

Mr Moffat’s ‘No Outsiders’ programme at the school, where 99 per cent of students are Muslim, has been praised as “pioneering” in its teachings on inclusiveness and diversity.

The programme is also used in the school, where more than nine in 10 pupils speak English as an additional language, to counteract the rise in hate crime and reduce the potential for radicalisation.

Mr Moffat also runs an after-school club that creates opportunities for children at his school to meet people from different races, religions and cultures around Birmingham.

“A big challenge for us is teaching our children that there are different people out there,” Mr Moffat said in a video launched for the Global Teacher Prize.

Mr Mofatt has now extended the programme to the wider community through parent and child workshops, and other schools across the UK are also using the programme.

He added: “I want to take No Outsiders to a global stage and I am going to fight for diversity because it works.”

Michelle Harris, a fellow teacher at the school, said: “I think it is really important that he is putting these thoughts into their minds at a young age so they grow up and go to secondary school thinking they can be who they want to be and so can everybody else around them.”

Hugh Jackman announces shortlist for the Global Teacher Prize

In a video message, Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman said: “When I was a kid there were lots of superheroes that I wanted to be. But I can tell you right now, from where I stand, with all my experience, the real superheroes are teachers. They're the ones that change the world.

"My favourite uncle was a teacher, my sister's a teacher, my brother's a teacher and I have always felt the most important job in the world is teachers. My hope for every single person on the planet is that you have at least one."

He added: “All of us go through insecurity and doubt, trepidation along this journey of life, and those teachers that see the best in us and are patient enough to allow us to grow into that, they are like gold."

Andrew Moffat teaching at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham
Andrew Moffat teaching at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham (Global Teacher Prize)

The other nine finalists teach in Georgia, Brazil, the Netherlands, India, America, Argentina, Australia, Japan and Kenya.

All the finalists will be invited to Dubai to the Global Education and Skills Forum next month where the winner will be announced.

Last year, Andria Zafirakou, an arts and textiles teacher from north London, was named the world’s best teacher and honoured with the $1m prize. It was first time a UK teacher won the award.

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