Around 500 children were withdrawn by parents from Parkfield Community School in Birmingham on Friday as the row over pro LGBT teaching at the school continues.
The mass withdrawal came after consultation broke down last week amid claims the school had failed to heed the concerns of the mainly Muslim parents.
A school source told the Birmingham Mail that the number of withdrawals was closer to 370 while the school roll numbers around 700 children.
The school announced it was restarting the pro LGBT equality programme “No Outsiders” from September with modifications, including a new name “No Outsiders for a Faith Community.”
In a statement, the Parkfield Parents’ Group, whose representatives took part in consultations, said they had been left with “no alternative option” but to hold a mass withdrawal of pupils.
They added that parents had “lost all confidence” in the school leadership – and as a result many were now considering moving schools or home educating their children.
The statement said: “As an expression of frustration and dissatisfaction with the school’s leadership team and to best serve the educational interest of our children we had no alternative option but to hold a mass withdrawal of children from the school today.
“Parents are reaching a distressing point to this ongoing standoff due to the fact we are unlikely to reach any positive outcome with the current school’s leadership team… parents are currently seeking to move their children to alternative local schools and considering home schooling options to best serve the needs of their children’s educational needs.”
The Parkfield Parent Group Statement in Full
“We, as parents and citizens of this great country, fully support and endorse British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths, non-faith and beliefs.
“We understand and respect the Equality Act 2010 is the law. The nine protected characteristics of Age, Disability, Gender Reassignment, Marriage and Civil Partnership, Race, Religion and Belief, Sexual orientation, Pregnancy and Maternity we consider to be equal, with no characteristic considered to be greater or lesser than another.
“We, the parents are extremely disheartened and saddened with the conduct of our Parkfield Community School’s leadership team. We unconditionally love and care about our community school that has served the needs of our children for several generations.
“We tremendously respect the dedication, commitment and hard work of every teacher, teaching assistant and lunch-time supervising staff that have committed their time and efforts in serving our children.
“We unequivocally condemn the labels that have been applied to us of “bigoted and homophobic” and “homophobic extremists”.
“We would like to reach out once again to our LGBT community to clear up any misconceptions, build bridges and strength our bond in this diverse community by offering our apology for any actions that may have upset them as this was not our intention.
“We fully recognise and respect the equality circle is a large space that can accommodate all of us without anyone impinging on each other’s rights.
“We the parents are part of this great city, this country and part of the fabric of our society that is bound together by love and care for our families, neighbours, friends, colleagues and our entire communities.
“We respect and embrace all people, including those of different ages, cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, physical abilities, religious beliefs and sexual orientations.
“In terms of our mediation with Parkfield school’s leadership team, we can confirm as of Friday 28th June, both the parents and the school leadership team failed to reach a mutually agreeable outcome.
“The mediation process was positive in terms of creating an opportunity between the school’s leadership team and parents to engage and collaborate. Regrettably, this failed outcome position was reached because the school’s leadership team throughout the mediation process did not take the process seriously and did not consider parents to be equal partners in the relationship and demonstrated an authoritarian approach by:
- Speaking to parents in an unreasonable manner, did not apply language that united us, failed to create synergy and cooperation between us.
- Consistently applied an overbearing approach to exert influence, authority and power.
- There was no warm, charismatic reassuring, encouraging open dialogue, instead, each meeting was full of cold and inhuman responses to the plight of parents.
- Consistently broadcasted media messages against parents to present us in a negative manner during the mediation process.
- Questions and concerns presented by parents during the mediation remain unanswered.
Throughout the mediation process parents have called for an independent review of the ‘No Outsiders’ programme at Parkfield school, this was initially agreed but never undertaken.
“Parents were clear about working with the school’s leadership team to rebuild our relationship, demonstrate respect and work within the guidelines of the educational framework to achieve a positive mutual agreeable outcome for the benefit our children’s education.
“Whilst we appreciate that the school leadership team attempted to introduce a new curriculum by Mr Moffat, entitled ‘No Outsiders for a Faith Community’. Parents have unanimously declined to accept this curriculum because the new programme was not adequately discussed, considered and consulted upon.
“Parents have lost confidence in all versions of the No Outsiders Programme. We want a programme that covers the Equality Act 2010 fairly and a programme that follows best practice guidelines of the educational framework.
“We strongly believe and understand the No Outsiders programme, as well as the No Outsiders for a Faith Community, fails to do this adequately.
“We have genuinely and sincerely supported the school’s leadership team and wanted to move forward together in the best interests of our children, however, we feel that our rights and wishes as the primary educators of our children have been violated and ignored.
“In the last week or so we have come to the year group consultation meetings and have learnt parents are being informed by the school’s leadership team that the new curriculum was agreed upon, this was inaccurate and misleading. When we voiced the truth, we were intimidated and shut down.
“Any valid questions, comments and queries put forward by the parents were ignored. Instead of addressing the concerns of the parents, the school’s leadership team have used heavy-handed tactics and have banned and excluded several parents from entering school premises on the back of these meetings.
“This position has been further escalated by placing security guards at the school entrance. So, we have this bizarre position of parents dropping their children off out on the street and not being allowed to enter school premises, and parents have not been allowed to participate in school sports day.
“The school summer fair has been cancelled as the school’s leadership did not want any parents onsite.
“We strongly feel this not acceptable, completely out of character for a school leadership to conduct themselves in this way and is very wrong.
“The school’s leadership team continues to undertake disproportionate action against parents by creating further divisions and escalating the matter beyond what it is.
“We are feeling the adverse impact of this relationship breakdown, our children are been further isolated from parents and some cases parents and children are been discriminated against and been treated differently.
What Do Parents Feel?
- This issue is not about our children and their education anymore, it has been hijacked by: –
Some individuals to weaponize the LGBT and the political establishment against parents
Overbearing approach has been applied to exert influence, authority and power by school’s leadership team
Financial gains of the school to continue selling the ‘No Outsiders’ programme
Fame and glory of ‘No Outsiders’ programme
- We strongly believe the pressure of media, political influence and the firm and uncompromising approach of the school’s leadership team is shaping the outcome
- We feel we are the victims of discrimination for speaking up as parents
“Unfortunately, we have reached an impasse with the school’s leadership team due to their unwillingness to build, repair and bridge this important relationship with parents in a sincere manner.
“As an expression of frustration and dissatisfaction with the school’s leadership team and to best serve the educational interest of our children we had no alternative option but to hold a mass withdrawal of children from the school today (Friday 12th July 2019).
“This was not the desired option for us.
“Parents are reaching a distressing point to this ongoing standoff due to the fact we are unlikely to reach any positive outcome with the current school’s leadership team. Therefore as a consequence parents are currently seeking to move their children to alternative local schools and considering home schooling options to best sever the needs of their children’s educational needs.
“Finally we fully appreciate it is only by being respectful, tolerate and inclusive that we all can progress and achieve success together. We will continue to demonstrate a positive attitude, respect and desire to work together with Parkfield school’s leadership team.”
Parkfield Parent Group