Today (Tue 9 Apr) the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds has written to NAHT to express his support for schools which have been criticised for teaching about equal rights.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “We are pleased to see the Secretary of State making his views known and re-affirming the expectations that the Equality Act places on schools. It is important for the Secretary of State to show leadership and provide clarity.
“This letter confirms that whilst school leaders are required to involve parents and the wider community in the planned content of the curriculum, consultation does not provide parents or others with a veto on curriculum content. Schools that take this approach will receive the full support of the government.
“The Secretary of State also makes clear that ‘dedicated public servants faithfully discharging their duty have an absolute right to feel confident and safe.’ This is as it should be. Petitions calling for staff to be sacked or asked to resign are clearly unacceptable.
“Schools have a duty to eliminate discrimination. This is important because all children have a right to go home to whatever family they have without being forced to question whether their home life is any less loving or proper than their friends’ families, just because they look or seem different.
“The law that permits a person to follow their chosen religion or hold a belief without being discriminated against is the same law that protects someone else’s sexual orientation, or disability, or race. The law does not permit schools to pick which of these protected characteristics it educates pupils about.
“There is clearly more to be done in Birmingham and in other areas where protests and disagreements have happened. We are encouraged by this letter that the Secretary of State has taken a direct interest in bringing the protests to an end and restoring a calm teaching environment for all pupils and staff as quickly as possible.
“We agree with the Secretary of State that protests should be stopped. Schools should be a place of safety and calm, and everyone in the community has a responsibility to maintain that atmosphere. Protests do nothing to help schools achieve their public duty or create the conditions children need to learn.”
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