Lessons about diversity and LGBT issues which triggered parents protests outside a primary school have been suspended.
Parkfield Community School said its No Outsiders project – which teaches tolerance of diverse groups, including those of different races, genders and sexual orientation – will not be taught “until a resolution has been reached”.
The Birmingham school had previously said lessons would continue as normal after the Easter holidays despite the protests. Just this week, Ofsted ruled that the lessons were age appropriate following concern from parents.
But now the Birmingham school has suspended the project "until a resolution has been reached".
Talks between parents, education chiefs and the academy trust which runs Parkfield took place later on Tuesday, leading to the announcement that the lessons would be suspended.
Inspectors said “a very small, but vocal, minority of parents are not clear about the school’s vision, policies and practice”.
Teachers have should work on “further engagement” with mothers and fathers, inspectors said.
What is the No Outsiders Programme?
The No Outsiders programme was introduced by Assistant Head, Andrew Moffat, who was recently shortlisted for a global teaching prize for his work on equality and diversity.
Pupils are taught about the positive values of diversity, tolerance and acceptance, in a broad curriculum encompassing LGBT rights, same-sex relationships, gender identity, race, religion and colour.
What was the school's response?
The school said: “Nothing is more important than ensuring our children’s education continues uninterrupted.
“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.”
What do those protesting say?
Parkfield Parents’ Community Group were behind the protests outside the school gates and welcomed suspension.
Members said they had a positive meeting with the Department for Education (DfE) to discuss serious concerns with the programme and in light of the suspension have called off its protest for this week.
They said it would keep the option of future rallies “under review”.
The group said in a statement: “We made our position clear, that the No Outsiders programme cannot continue to be taught at Parkfield School and that a new programme needs be negotiated, with which parents are happy and meets the legal requirements of the Equality Act 2010.
“The school have agreed that ‘until a resolution has been reached’ No Outsiders lessons will not be taught.
“In view of this development, we have decided to postpone the protest for Thursday 14th March."
At the school gates on Thursday, a handful of parents who were present were also supportive.
One, who declined to be named, said: “Of course we aren’t against equality – the problem was too much emphasis on the LGBT side.
“The DfE listened to us. We’ll see what happens now.”