LGBT teaching row: DfE ‘pressured school’ to halt lessons

Hazel Pulley said Parkfield Community School suspended the teachings following “frantic phone calls” from the Department for Education (DfE).

“The DfE really wanted the protests to stop. They wanted it out of the press,” said Ms Pulley, who is head of the trust which runs the school.

The DfE is “working intensively with the school and parents”, it said.

Ms Pulley also urged new Prime Minister Boris Johnson to step in and make guidance on the issue for head teachers clearer or risk further divisions in communities.

Parkfield’s No Outsiders equality programme, which encourages children to accept differences in religions, families and relationships, was suspended in March amid angry protests at the school gates.

Protesters stated the subject matter contradicted the Islamic faith and that primary-age children were too young to be aware of same-sex relationships.
Hazel Pulley said Parkfield Community School suspended the teachings following “frantic phone calls” from the Department for Education (DfE).

“The DfE really wanted the protests to stop. They wanted it out of the press,” said Ms Pulley, who is head of the trust which runs the school.

The DfE is “working intensively with the school and parents”, it said.

Ms Pulley also urged new Prime Minister Boris Johnson to step in and make guidance on the issue for head teachers clearer or risk further divisions in communities.

Parkfield’s No Outsiders equality programme, which encourages children to accept differences in religions, families and relationships, was suspended in March amid angry protests at the school gates.

Protesters stated the subject matter contradicted the Islamic faith and that primary-age children were too young to be aware of same-sex relationships.
“I don’t think this had ever happened in schools in our country before where parents would stand outside a school and really shout using megaphones and keep children out.

“It worried me because I felt that it was empowering parents to realise that if you shout and scream outside a school or [there’s] something you don’t agree with, you can stop it, but it also made it look like the school was doing something wrong, which it wasn’t.”

How did the LGBT teaching row unfold?
Schools ‘can choose what they teach’
Children ‘worried about protests’

The BBC has seen a letter to Birmingham MP Jess Phillips in which Schools Minister Nick Gibb states: “I am clear that at no point did officials from the department pressure the school into pausing or stopping the No Outsiders programme.”

The Department for Education said in a statement: “Any suggestion that the dispute should be kept out of the media was absolutely not an attempt to silence the school, but a bid to bring an end to protests, encourage consultation and ensure tensions weren’t further inflamed by sensationalist coverage.”

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