Teaching assistant sacked after raising concerns over 9/11 videos shown to pupils

The Heartlands Academy in Birmingham

A teaching assistant has been sacked for objecting to a class of 11-year-olds being shown graphic footage of 9/11, the Daily Mail reports.

Suriyah Bi, 23, was helping the year seven class at Heartlands Academy in Birmingham. The pupils were shown the horrifying video, of the terrorist attack which shook the world, which has a rating for people aged 18 and over.

The YouTube clip shows people jumping from the Twin Towers and has graphic descriptions of people going “splat” on the floor.

Ms Bi, who only started her teaching assistant job at the school last week, did not agree with the film clip being shown to the children and raised her concerns. She was stunned when the headteacher immediately sent her home for the day and, following an email explaining herself, dismissed her.

The Oxford University graduate said: “I was just doing my job, I am in utter shock and disbelief that I have been dismissed for trying to do my job and protecting the children. Before the video could even be viewed on YouTube, there was a block on the video, warning that you needed to sign in to view it, verifying we were 18. But even then, as the video began, there is a warning of graphic content unsuitable for under 18s. Most of the children in the class didn’t even know what 9/11 was. The kids thought it was a robbery. Imagine what their parents must have thought when they went home and told them what they had been watching.”

septemverThe class were studying a poem called Out of the Blue, by Simon Armitage, on Tuesday. The poem is about a victim of the 9/11 terror attacks who eventually jumps from the burning building. It is part of the AQA GCSE syllabus.

Ms Bi said: “It happened during the first class of the day on Tuesday and then the next day at around 8.50am I raised the concern and not even an hour later I was in a meeting telling me I was dismissed. It wasn’t even 10am when I was told to grab my possessions and leave the premises. It all just happened in the blink of an eye. I went into that meeting alone, and came out speechless, unable to think straight.”

She started at the school only last Monday, just days after completing her Masters, and claims it had become apparent in the eight days working there, that there are various issues with how the children are being safeguarded.

She said: “If such content is being shown to these pupils, it questions what child safeguarding actually means to the schools, and whether Ofsted’s existing inspection framework is adequate enough to detect such concerns.

“These children had no idea what 9/11 even was, this leaves them wanting to know more, but what if they were to be left on their own looking it up, imagine the horrifying images they will be able to see just googling it. It also raises the question on how well are child safeguarding policies implemented in the delivery of lessons. How many more cases of this are going on around schools?”

Headteacher of Heartlands Academy, Glynis Jones, said: “Due to the investigation now taking place, we are unable to comment on the situation.”

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