Relationship education protests spread to third primary

Demonstrators from Birmingham join protest outside Nottingham school

Tes Reporter

A demonstration about relationships education took place outside a primary school in Nottingham.

Protests against relationships and sex education in classrooms have spread to another primary school.

A demonstration was held near Fernwood Primary School in Nottingham today with organisers protesting against what they have claimed is the "sexualisation" and "indoctrination" of children there.

One of the men at the demonstration was Amir Ahmed, who was recently banned by an injunction from protesting outside the gates of Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham.

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There have been 17 weeks of demonstrations at the Birmingham primary, which one organiser claimed was "over-emphasising a gay ethos".

Protests have also been held at Parkfield Community School, in the Alum Rock area of the city.

Both demonstrations have previously been labelled "unacceptable" by education secretary Damian Hinds.

Labour MP Lilian Greenwood, whose Nottingham South constituency includes the Arleston Drive school, said she would meet with any concerned parents, but that she had not heard "from a single Fernwood parent" who wanted the protests.

Nottingham City Council also backed the school's leadership, adding it appeared none of the protesters had any direct link to Fernwood.

Speaking after Monday's protest, Mr Ahmed said: "It's a different school, community and city, but the issues are the same.

"Government policy is such it is foisting an agenda on young children for parents who run a traditional conservative family.

"[The teaching] runs contrary to their values."

But those in a nearby, larger counter-protest – some holding rainbow flags – condemned the demonstration as "bigotry and homophobia".

However, Mr Ahmed, who is not a parent at either school, said: "It really isn't about the LGBT issue – it's about indoctrination being pushed."

The council has said schools are "duty-bound" to teach relationships and sex education (RSE) at primary age, and teachers were experienced enough to make it age-appropriate.

Ahead of the protests, Ms Greenwood raised the prospect of the demonstration with Mr Hinds.

Mr Hinds said the government had been "working closely" with councils, teaching unions, Ofsted and the police "to understand if there are similar issues emerging in other parts of the country" and "take action".

He added: "Ultimately, we will back headteachers to make the final decisions about what is taught in schools."

Another of the protest's organisers, Ayaz Ahmed, told the Press Association he got involved after being contacted on Wednesday by parents at the school, who wanted to mount a demonstration.

The father-of-three, who is from Nottingham but has no children himself at the school, previously attended meetings in Birmingham about demonstrations there.

The 40-year-old said the parents wanted a consultation with the school, and the campaign would continue to "build-up" until they succeeded.

He met with Nottingham City Council's leader David Mellen and its elected education chief on Thursday.

In a statement, Councillor Mellen said: "In modern Britain, families come in many different shapes and sizes, including same-sex parents, single parents, fostering and adoptive parents.

"It is important that children and young people are given the opportunity to explore a range of family and relationship types in a way that is supportive, inclusive and affirms children's different experiences of family life.

"So far I haven't heard from a single Fernwood parent who wants him or the other protesters to be here."

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Tes Reporter

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