Lessons about diversity and LGBT issues which triggered weekly parents’ protests outside an English primary school have been suspended. Parkfield Community School said it’s No Outsiders project, which teaches tolerance of diverse groups, including different races, genders and sexual orientation, will not be taught “until a resolution has been reached”. The Birmingham school had previously said lessons would continue as normal after the Easter holidays, despite the protests. A report by school inspectors concluded that the lessons were age-appropriate, which head teacher David Williams called “great news” for the school.
Inspectors said “a vocal minority of parents are not clear about the school’s policies”, and that teachers should work on “further engagement” with parents. Talks between parents and education chiefs took place later that day, leading to the announcement that the lessons would be suspended. The school said: “Nothing is more important than ensuring classes continue uninterrupted. Both parents and education chiefs held constructive discussions with the Regional Schools Commissioner, and we are eager to continue to work together over coming days and weeks to find a solution that will allow the children’s education to continue 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.” The No Outsiders programme, which teaches about the Equality Act, was authored by the school’s assistant head teacher, Andrew Moffat. Pupils are taught about the positive values of diversity, tolerance and acceptance, in a broad curriculum encompassing LGBT rights, same-sex relationships, gender identity, race, religion and colour. But the lessons sparked off weekly protests outside its gates, with mothers and fathers objecting to the teaching of the No Outsiders project.
Parkfield Parents’ Community Group, which has organised protests, said members had a positive meeting with the Department for Education (DfE) to discuss serious concerns with the programme. Welcoming the suspension, the group called off its protest for this week and said it would keep the option of future rallies “under review”. The group said in a statement: “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.
“The school have agreed that ‘until a resolution has been reached’ No Outsiders lessons will be taught. “In view of this development, we have decided to postpone our protests for now. When we receive detailed proposals we will review our actions with respect to protests and schoolwide withdrawal of children. We welcome these developments and reiterate that the school needs to work with parents in a spirit of co-operation and not against them in educating their children.” One parent who declined to be named, said: “Of course we aren’t against equality, the problem was too much emphasis on the LGBT side. “The DfE listened to us. We’ll see what happens now.”
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