Government put ‘extreme pressure’ on primary school to stop giving lessons on LGBT+ relationships, says CEO

‘It was new, and they wanted it out of the press, but for us, it was happening to a school where nothing was going wrong – were doing nothing wrong, why did we have to stop?’

May Bulman
Friday 26 July 2019 13:48
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Department of Education 'pressured school' to halt lessons because of bad PR, says head

The government put “extreme pressure” on a primary school to stop giving lessons on LGBT relationships after parents staged weekly protests against them, the school’s chief executive has said.

Parkfield Community School agreed to suspend the No Outsiders programme, which uses storybooks to teach about same-sex couples, in March following a series of demonstrations by parents who claimed that their children were too young to learn about same-sex relationships.

Hazel Pulley, chief executive of the Excelsior academy chain that operates the school, told the BBC on Friday ministers had failed to make their support for the school clear.

“We experienced extreme pressure to stop No Outsiders. We feel it was only with one aim, and that was to keep the protests out of the paper and to stop the protests,” she said.

“I don’t think this had happened in schools in our country before, where parents would stand outside a school and shout using megaphone and keep children out.

“It was new, and they wanted it out of the press, but for us, it was happening to a school where nothing was going wrong – were doing nothing wrong, why did we have to stop?”

Ms Pulley also urged new prime minister Boris Johnson to step in and make guidance on the issue for headteachers clearer or risk further divisions in communities.

The No Outsiders diversity programme is currently taught at schools across the country.

It was introduced four years ago by Parkfield’s assistant headteacher, Andrew Moffat, who was a top 10 finalist for one of the world’s top teaching awards earlier this year.

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

The Department for Education said in a statement: “Any suggestion that the dispute should be kept out of the media was absolutely not an attempt to silence the school, but a bid to bring an end to protests, encourage consultation and ensure tensions weren't further inflamed by sensationalist coverage.”

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