Parkfield Community School should resume its lessons about LGBT rights amid a long-running row with parents, according to the ex-head of Ofsted.

The row has been over the Saltley school's headteacher introducing a curriculum supporting homosexuality and promoting understanding and equality for everyone.

Called ' No Outsiders ', the programme runs alongside sex and relationship education lessons and promotes LGBT equality in primary schools.

The programme has come under fire from some Muslim parents who say homosexuality is strictly forbidden in Islam.

The Leigh Trust, which runs five city primaries, has dropped the programme until after Ramadan in June while it consults with parents.

The trust schools involved are Leigh Primary School, Alston Primary School, Marlborough Junior, Marlborough Infants and Wyndcliff Primary School.

 

Sir Michael Wilshaw was head of Ofsted until 2016.

Andrew Moffat, assistant headteacher at Parkfield Community School
Andrew Moffat, assistant headteacher at Parkfield Community School

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “Conservative religious people [can] uphold their views … – sincerely held views – but also they’ve got to understand that they are living in this country, in a pluralistic society with liberal values, that strongly believes that people should be treated fairly and equally.

“Absolutely they should reinstate them.”

He added: “There have been problems in Birmingham for a very long time and it’s really important that there is strong political backing in  Birmingham  for this issue, from both the local authority, local MPs and also the Department of Education, to make absolutely clear that they will not tolerate this sort of behaviour.”

 

Increasingly heated protests have been held outside the primary school, led by parents who claimed elements of the No Outsiders programme were unsuitable for young children.

Some of the protesters say the lessons unnecessarily "promote homosexuality" and "tell children it is OK to be gay"- messages which they say are at odds with given their religious beliefs.

 

The stance against "promoting homosexuality" has sparked a backlash from equality campaigners and LGBT activists across the country.

The full Parkfield Community School statement, posted on its website, reads: "Nothing is more important than ensuring our children's education continues uninterrupted.

"Yesterday (Tuesday), both parents and the trust held constructive discussions with the Regional Schools Commissioner and, as a result of these discussions, we are eager to continue to work together with parents, over the coming days and weeks, to find a solution that will support the children in our school to continue their education in a harmonious environment.

"Until a resolution has been reached, No Outsiders lessons will not be taught at Parkfield and we hope that children will not be removed from school to take part in protests."

The decision comes just days after Ofsted ruled the No Outsiders lessons were age-appropriate for youngsters at the primary school.

Senior Ofsted inspector Peter Humphries, who led an inspection visit last month, said a 'very small but vocal minority' of parents were opposed to the No Outsiders lessons: "Their view is that the PSHE education and equalities curriculum focuses disproportionately on lesbian, gay and bisexual issues and that this work is not taught in an age-appropriate manner.

"Inspectors found no evidence that this is the case."

A disturbing video of a rally of protesters outside the school, featuring young pupils joining in chants of 'shame, shame, shame', went viral last week, triggering national debate about the rights of parents over educational content.

 

The No Outsiders programme was started by the school's gay assistant head teacher Andrew Moffat.

Mr Moffat MBE had been piloting the programme, which is run alongside sex and relationship education (SRE) lessons.

Its ethos promotes LGBT equality and challenges homophobia in primary schools.

Books about same sex marriage including Mommy, Mama and Me and King & King were just a couple of the books being read to children.

Mr Moffat has come under personal attack over the programme, amid claims that No Outsiders is inappropriate for their children.

Protests outside Parkfield Community School

The teacher, currently shortlisted for a  world’s best teacher award , resigned from another primary school – Chilwell Croft academy, also in Birmingham – after a similar dispute with Muslim and Christian parents.

Dad Abdul Ma, 46, previously said: “This is a brainwash.

"We bring our children here so they can later work as a solicitor or a teacher, not to be taught about being gay or a lesbian.”

Razina Mahmood, 40, added: “This is nothing but indoctrination of our children.

“You are using our children as an experiment.”

 

Local MP Liam Byrne (Hodge Hill) has been heavily involved in the discussions and the quest for a peaceful resolution to the issue.

Last week he said he was working with faith groups and Stonewall, the LGBT rights campaign group which has produced guidance for schools, to try to end the protests.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, who is gay himself, weighed into the issue on Twitter, stating: "The education of our children is a vital part of ensuring that each generation is more tolerant than the last.

"The language used by protestors outside the Parkfield Community School towards the LGBT+ community in recent days is unacceptable.

"Our diversity is a great asset for the West Midlands and we must not let intolerance win out."