DfE 'too slow' to respond to LGBT protests 'mob'

The DfE should have given more clarity to protesting parents, government adviser on countering extremism says

Tes Reporter

BBC panorama LGBT

Headteachers dealing with protests over LGBT lessons should have been given more support, the government's chief adviser on countering extremism has said.

Campaigners held banners saying "Don't confuse our children" and "Let kids be kids" outside Parkfield Community School in Birmingham after books featuring same-sex couples were used in a programme to teach about diversity.

The school decided to suspend its No Outsiders programme in February until an agreement could be reached with concerned parents.

Exclusive: Hinds ‘leaves heads hung out to dry’ on LGBT

Video: Standing firm against 'horrific’ LGBT protests

Ofsted: Clearer LGBT guidance needed, says Spielman

But Sara Khan, who became a government adviser in January 2018, likened the protests to a "mob".

Speaking about the Department for Education's response to the issue, she told BBC's Panorama: "I think they were too slow to respond. There's a lot of confusion about what's actually being taught and I think the DfE could have played a very important role in clarifying to parents this is what's actually being taught, not the misinformation that we're seeing out there.

"It's a mob chanting and shouting and engaging in intimidating and threatening behaviour. And I think we have to recognise that and call it out for what it is."

The school's assistant headteacher Andrew Moffat, who developed the No Outsiders programme in accordance with the Equalities Act, said you cannot pick and choose which parts of it to apply.

Under the programme, pupils are taught about the values of diversity, tolerance and acceptance in a broad curriculum encompassing LGBT rights, same-sex relationships, gender identity, race, religion and colour. The PSHE teacher said the lessons do not make reference to sexual acts, and pupils are simply read stories where people have different families.

In March, Mr Moffat revealed that the daily demonstrations outside the school gates had left some children in tears. However the school later announced it will resume with a modified version of the programme in September.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Over 1,400 schools have volunteered to begin rolling out the new relationships education and relationships and sex education guidance from September and earlier this month we confirmed plans to set up a new group of experts to support the effective implementation of these new subjects in schools. 

“We have already sent resources, including mythbusters – developed specifically in response to some of the inaccurate information being circulated – parent guides and information directly to every school in England. These materials have also been shared through a range of partner organisations such as faith groups and teaching unions.”

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Latest stories