The teacher at the centre of protests about LGBT content in lessons has welcomed the “fantastic” news that demonstrations outside his school have been suspended.
The controversy at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham erupted over the No Outsiders programme, which teaches pupils about diversity, tolerance and acceptance, and was developed by assistant headteacher Andrew Moffat.
Earlier this month, the school announced it was suspending the lessons until it had reached a resolution with parents.
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Now, it has been reported that the campaign organisation Parkfield Parents Group has suspended its protests outside the school while the talks take place.
Speaking to Tes today at the Global Education and Skills Forum, in Dubai, where he has been shortlisted for the $1 million Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, Mr Moffat said: “That’s fantastic, and that’s certainly what we hoped to achieve from suspending the programme.”
He speculated that his comments reported by Tes on Friday that the protests had been “very hurtful” for him, and left children in tears, may have played a part in the protests being called off.
“It really put across that here’s a difficult situation, but here’s the impact on me, but also the children,” he said. “Maybe people didn’t think about that kind of thing.
“In the end, these are normal people, they are great people. They are mums and dads and no-one wants to hurt anybody. No-one wants to hurt me.
“Maybe it just wasn’t even thought about, the personal impact, until you see it in black and white.”
He added: “The key now is to have respectful, calm meetings. What we don’t want is to have meetings where it’s like the protests, but inside the room. We need to be listening to each other.”
Mr Moffat revealed that Parkfield has funded counselling sessions for him after he found himself at the centre of a controversy that has made headlines across the UK.
“The school has paid for counselling sessions for me, which have been really useful.
“I’ve never been in to counselling before or therapy but I highly recommend it, because I do feel responsible for all the schools that are doing No Outsiders, because there’s hundreds of them, and I’m saying ‘here’s how you do it', and it’s really hard for me to then say ‘oh, yeah, but we’ve suspended it at our school’.
“That’s really, really hard.”
He said he was heartened by the support from teachers across the country, and added: “I’ve had a surge in requests for meetings, so people are not put off by what’s happening in my school.
“In fact, people I think are seeing that this is a thing that is important, this needs to happen, because if it happens in my school, it can happen anywhere.”