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Parkfield school boss: Government ‘pressured’ for end of LGBT lessons

Nick Duffy July 26, 2019
Parents, children and protesters demonstrate against the 'No Outsiders' programme, which teaches children about LGBT rights, at Parkfield Community School on March 21, 2019 in Birmingham, England.

Parents, children and protesters demonstrate against the 'No Outsiders' programme, which teaches children about LGBT rights, at Parkfield Community School on March 21, 2019 in Birmingham, England.(Christopher Furlong/Getty)

The boss of Birmingham’s Parkfield Primary School has accused the Department of Education of pressing for an LGBT+ inclusive anti-bullying programme to be dropped after protests.

Parkfield agreed to suspend the No Outsiders programme in March after weeks of angry anti-LGBT protests outside the school, which has continued to be a focal point for the growing backlash against inclusive education.

Hazel Pulley, chief executive of the Excelsior academy chain that operates the school, told the BBC that ministers had failed to make their support for the school clear.

Department for Education put ‘extreme pressure’ on school to end programme

She said: “We experienced extreme pressure to stop No Outsiders. We feel it was only with one aim, and that was to keep the protests out of the paper and to stop the protests.

“I don’t think this had happened in schools in our country before, where parents would stand outside a school and shout using megaphone and keep children out.

“It was new, and they wanted it out of the press, but for us, it was happening to a school where nothing was going wrong – were doing nothing wrong, why did we have to stop?”

Parkfield School: Parents, children and protesters demonstrate against the 'No Outsiders' programme, which teaches children about LGBT rights, at Parkfield Community School on March 21, 2019 in Birmingham, England.
Parents, children and protesters demonstrate against the ‘No Outsiders’ programme, which teaches children about LGBT rights, at Parkfield Community School on March 21, 2019 in Birmingham, England.(Christopher Furlong/Getty)

Pulley said that the school was left “isolated” by the failure of the Department of Education to provide support.

She said: “It has been horrendous. I have felt sadly rather isolated… to begin with, we got very little support from anybody.

“At first I was looking for that overt support from [the Department for Education], from other agencies to come forward and say that what we were doing is right, when actually I felt the support was going elsewhere.”

Calls for Boris Johnson to intervene in Parkfield School row

The academy boss is now calling on the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson to intervene in the row with a clear statement of support.

She said: “I’m calling on Mr Johnson to get this sorted as soon as we can.

“I’ll come and meet with him in whatever way we can do because if we don’t get this sorted now, this is going to grow, and community cohesion will become more of a challenge.

“It’s only going to get worse.”

Johnson’s new education secretary Gavin Williamson has an anti-LGBT record, having opposed equal marriage.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education told the BBC: “It is wrong to suggest that pressure has been applied to Parkfield to stop teaching about equality.

“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. “

More: Gay, LGBT, Parkfield, Parkfield primary school

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