Headteacher who tried to divert pupil funds to Israel apologies, performs U-turn

Stretford High School (Creative Commons Licence)

The headteacher of a Manchester school has apologised to pupils and parents after trying to divert money raised by pupils for Palestine to Israel and Palestine.

Following the fundraiser last month, Stretford High School headteacher Nicola Doward came under fire from parents after saying the funds would be donated to Red Cross Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel Crisis Appeal when the original fundraiser was only meant for Palestinians.

Online posts suggested the headteacher had chosen the charities receiving money “without discussion or consideration.”

The funds were raised by Year 11 and Year 8 pupils who made and sold ribbons, badges and bracelets and raised £278.42.

But Mrs Doward has now performed a U-turn, telling parents, carers and pupils that pupils will be able to choose a charity of their choice.

Nicola Doward (Stretfordhigh.com)

She wrote: “With regard to recent events around our pupils’ engagement in fundraising for Palestinian beneficiaries, I would like to put on record that I unreservedly apologise for a decision I made to consider sending the proceeds of the funds raised to the Red Cross. I made this judgment call as at the time I believed there would be no bias in doing so.

“Subsequently, I understand that this decision has caused offence to some members of the wider community. This was never my intention and in no way did I wish to cause upset or offence to our pupils, their respective families and of course our community.

“I understand the issue of Palestine is a sensitive matter and in retrospect we should have further engaged the pupils involved in fundraising to determine a more suitable charity to manage the funds. Stretford High School is still in receipt of the monies collected and we will now engage with our students to determine which charity would be most appropriate in managing and distributing the funds for the purpose it was raised.”

Ms Doward added: “As a school, we have delivered lessons during EE on Palestine & Israel, so that students may be informed regarding the history and present-day events of what occurs within the region. Our aim is to present a balanced view so that our pupils have a safe environment to discuss and ask questions as it is vital in having an open dialogue on this sensitive issue.

“It is just as important that Stretford High School continues to deliver the work we have planned to carry out this term, to shine a light on human sufferings wherever this may occur.”

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