Birmingham primary school suspends LGBT+ lessons after weekly protests from parents

‘Nothing is more important than ensuring our children’s education continues uninterrupted’

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Thursday 14 March 2019 14:09 GMT
Teacher up for global prize, Andrew Moffat explains LGBT lessons 'nothing to do with sex'

LGBT+ lessons have been suspended at a primary school in Birmingham following weekly protests from parents.

Parkfield Community School said its “No Outsiders” programme, which uses story books to teach about same-sex couples, will no longer be taught until a resolution is found.

It comes after parents took part in a series of demonstrations outside the school, where most pupils are Muslim, as they argued the children are too young to learn about same-sex relationships.

Some families withdrew their children from the school this month in protest against the lessons.

On Tuesday, schools watchdog Ofsted concluded the LGBT+ lessons were age-appropriate, but talks between parents, education chiefs and the academy trust which runs the primary school led to the announcement of the lessons being suspended.

A statement on the school’s website said: “We are eager to continue to work together with parents, over the coming days and weeks to find a solution that will support the children in our school to continue their education in a harmonious environment.

“Until a resolution has been reached, No Outsiders lessons will not be taught at Parkfield and we hope that children will not be removed from school to take part in protests.”

It added: “Nothing is more important than ensuring our children’s education continues uninterrupted.”

Last week, Birmingham City Council warned protesting parents risked attracting “extreme fringe movements” that could fuel hate and division as it called for families and the school to “come together”.

The warning came on the same day West Midlands Police announced it was investigating reports of homophobic graffiti at the school.

The diversity programme was introduced four years ago by the school’s assistant headteacher, Andrew Moffat, who is a top 10 finalist for one of the world’s top teaching awards.

Mr Moffat, who is gay, told The Independent he believed his openness about his sexuality triggered the opposition. In recent weeks, he has been threatened and targeted amid protests.

Parkfield Parents’ Community Group, which has organised the protests, said members had a positive meeting with the Department for Education to discuss serious concerns with the programme.

The group called off its protest for Thursday and said it would keep future protests “under review”.

Birmingham teacher Andrew Moffat shortlisted for Global Teacher Prize

In a statement, the group said: “We made our position clear, that the No Outsiders programme cannot continue to be taught at Parkfield School and that a new programme needs be negotiated, with which parents are happy and meets the legal requirements of the Equality Act 2010.”

It added: “We welcome these developments and reiterate that the school needs to work with parents in a spirit of partnership and co-operation and not against them in educating their children.”

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