The major headteacher attacked for striving to tackle homophobia

Jamie Barry turned up at Welford major college on 3 October expecting a program meeting of the twice termly parents’ forum – about twenty mums and dads, there to discuss problems this kind of as the yearly community festivals and home-college diaries. Instead, the headteacher located five times that quantity of dad and mom and 1 item on the agenda: the Birmingham school’s recent introduction of a range of teaching components referred to as Chips – Challenging Homophobia in Principal Colleges.

Some dad and mom had been supported by Safe at School, a campaign run by the anti-abortion group the Society for the Protection of Unborn Youngsters (Spuc), which had emailed them a listing of queries and remarks to make (see below). “Teaching children about sexual orientation isn’t producing them risk-free,” stage twelve says. “It’s placing concepts into children’s heads.”

Part of the email sent by the Safe at School campaign, linked to an anti-abortion group, suggesting questions for parents at a meeting with Barry, to which the police were called.
Element of the e mail sent by the Safe at School campaign, linked to an anti-abortion group, suggesting questions for mother and father at a meeting with Barry, to which the police had been known as.

As the meeting grew to become a lot more heated, a group of around 10 parents came to the fore. Their complaints became, in Barry’s words, “very private and really aggressive”. Homophobic abuse was directed at the head, alleges Cllr Brigid Jones, Birmingham city council’s cabinet member for youngsters and loved ones services. Ultimately, increasingly concerned employees known as the police, and Barry was suggested to leave the area and wait in his office.

A month later on he chooses his phrases cautiously when talking about the incident and keeps his description short. He desires the school to move on, he says, and refutes reporting that claimed he had been “escorted from the premises for his own safety”. Others are much more outspoken: Jones calls it a “dark and horrible episode”. Rob Kelsall, the Nationwide Association of Headteachers’ senior regional officer, says he was horrified by what happened.

Kelsall is calling on the DfE to give its “full support” to heads who supply the Chips programme and uncover themselves in Barry’s position. “It’s about coming behind the head and the college to say ‘this is a basic value that there’s no negotiation on’,” he says. “We’re calling for much more clarity on what is described all as well frequently as ‘fundamental British values’. It is about sending a message to the local community that we educate respect of law and tolerance, and Chips is an crucial portion of that.”

Chips was introduced to Welford, exactly where 44% of pupils are from families of Pakistani origin and 22% from African-Caribbean backgrounds, in the wake of the Trojan Horse affair. The school, which has 480 pupils, in Handsworth, was one of 21 in Birmingham to be inspected in the inquiry into claims that Muslim hardliners had infiltrated some schools, and even though it was given a clean bill of overall health, inspectors reported some youngsters saying they believed it was wrong to be gay.

“We have been conscious that they may well do, due to the fact culturally, inside of the neighborhood we serve, we know people views are heard,” says Barry, adding that there was no difficulty with homophobic bullying in the college. “But it created us consider that as a school we need to have to do a tiny far more in terms of educating children about diversity and relationships.

“While we respect everyone’s proper to a personal view, very same-intercourse marriage is legal and some exact same-intercourse couples adopt or foster. Our youngsters will come into contact with these men and women and we don’t want it to be a shock to the system.” These at the meeting in October came from a variety of religious backgrounds, and incorporated dad and mom with no religious affiliation, he says.

The Welford protest comes at a time of confusion in excess of new guidelines issued following the Trojan Horse affair, stating that all schools must promote the “British values” of respect for the law, democracy, equality and tolerance of various faiths and religious and other beliefs.

Final week, education secretary Nicky Morgan warned that faith schools should follow the principles, but the DfE dismissed any suggestion that colleges would be forced to teach gay rights against their will.

The rules permit inspectors to censure colleges that do not conform to the Equality Act, which encourages respect for lesbian, gay and transgender folks, and other religions and races.

Ofsted tells inspectors to look at what major schools are performing to tackle and avert homophobic and transphobic bullying, Barry explains, which includes whether or not they’ve offered lessons about diverse kinds of families. “It’s quite clear from the guidance what we must be undertaking and we shared that with our parents,” he says. He’s full of praise for the inspectorate’s response – Michael Wilshaw came to visit and provided his complete assistance, says Barry – and that of the regional authority.

In fact, Chips is currently being used in 35 other Birmingham colleges. Two many years ago the council employed the award-winning instructor and campaigner Elly Barnes as its LGBT adviser for schools, and started rolling out her Educate and Celebrate educating in secondary colleges and Chips in the primaries.

Chips, written by instructor Andrew Moffat, employs existing story books as the basis to educate kids that LGBT folks exist, via acceptance and celebration of distinction, and is designed to be woven into literacy or PSHE lessons, rather than standing out on its personal (“It’s not a massive lesson about currently being gay,” says Barry). It is not about sex, and as it is not component of intercourse and relationships education (SRE), mothers and fathers have no appropriate to withdraw their children.

Like Welford, Anderton Park, in Sparkhill, Birmingham, commenced making use of the resources this term. 12 months one pupils pay attention very carefully as their instructor Rachel Dutton reads them “And Tango Makes Three”, primarily based on the accurate story of Roy and Silo, two male penguins in New York’s Central Park zoo who hatched a spare egg offered to them by a keeper and cared for infant Tango.

Afterwards, Dutton asks concerns: “Why did the zookeeper think Roy and Silo were in love? Did he consider they are each boys, they cannot be in adore?”

“No,” the youngsters chorus.

“It’s usually a girl penguin and a boy penguin, but this time it was two boys – is that ok?”

“Yes!” comes the reply.

Later on the young children, who’ve already discovered not just about very same-intercourse families but also single-mother or father and adoptive ones, settle down to draw a household of their picking. Amarah draws two mummies and a little one, even though her buddy Maysa goes for two daddies. Why have they picked individuals? “Because we like them,” says Maysa. “And they’re easy.”

Not like Barry, Anderton Park headteacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson did not inform parents about Chips in advance, and has had no complaints at the college, exactly where the huge vast majority of pupils come from Muslim families. “It’s just some books,” Hewitt-Clarkson says. “Lovely story books. I wouldn’t speak to mothers and fathers if I was going to acquire books about youngsters in wheelchairs or children who are blind. We’ve just invested £9,000 on some new books for the library – I did not tell the parents about that.”

She is appalled by what took place at Welford. “It’s a surprising indictment of a portion of society that grownups could behave like that. I feel if mother and father start kicking off like they did at Welford, they should shed their correct to a cost-free education [for their kids]. British values are about the rule of law. The Equality Act is the law, so you can not select and pick that bit it need to not be negotiable.”

Protected at School, which campaigns for the elimination of “sexually explicit” educating components from colleges, says Welford parents are “worried sick about what is occurring to their children” and dread Chips is “sexualising” them. A evaluation of the scheme on its website states that even though its writer says he is only educating youngsters that gay individuals exist and that that’s Ok, “Chips can also be seen as a programme for priming vulnerable, modest kids for gay intercourse later on”.

None of the dad and mom want to speak to the media, says Secure at School co-ordinator Antonia Tully, who got concerned at Welford school following currently being contacted by mothers and fathers earlier this year. “They informed me that someone phoned the police which was a quite inflammatory reaction,” she says. “They stated nothing that happened at the meeting warranted any police involvement.”

Is she conscious of homophobic remarks being produced? “I wasn’t at the meeting, I genuinely really do not want to speak about it,” she says. Later on in October she went with parents to provide letters of complaint from 160 of them to the council.

One mother or father posting on Twitter, who described herself as white British and a Muslim, said the incident had been blown out of proportion. “It was not nasty at all, it just acquired quite loud,” she stated, including it was “not a Muslim issue”.

“Homophobia is just as crucial as racism, sexism etc – but they are also young for this nevertheless, it’s confusing,” 1 of her tweets reads.

A DfE spokesperson explained: “We are committed to tackling all varieties of bullying, such as homophobic bullying, in an age-suitable method.” Frequent homophobic bullying in secondary colleges had nearly halved since 2009, she mentioned. However, “Primary colleges are not needed to educate about relationships. If they do, it have to be age-proper and done in consultation with parents’ wishes.”

Birmingham has never ever noticed anything at all like what took place at Welford, says Jones. “This is 2014 and the behaviour of these dad and mom has been extraordinary,” she says. “It’s appalling what they’re carrying out. Some of their children will expand up to discover they’re gay. How on earth are they going to truly feel about that? We’ve been clear in letting them know this is absolutely not acceptable.” Like Barry, she’s adamant Chips is staying place at Welford.

The quote of the week on the school’s site final week was from Maya Angelou: “Hate. It has induced a lot of difficulties in this planet but not solved a single but.” There have been phrases of support from some mother and father, but it has been a hard time for Barry nonetheless. “Not just because they produced personal feedback in the direction of me, but simply because I came into teaching to make a good influence on the lives of our young children,” he says. “I know it sounds a horrible cliché, but I desired to mould and form the future generation. I really do not do anything just due to the fact I’m told to do it – I do items if I think they are right.”

Leave a Reply