UK teacher under siege is shortlisted for $1-million education prize

UK teacher under siege is shortlisted for $1-million education prize February 21, 2019
Image via YouTube

LIFE for Andrew Moffat, above, assistant head at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham, had recently been made a living hell by a group of mainly Muslim parents who accused him of ‘promoting’ homosexuality through an equality programme he devised called ‘No Outsiders’.

The school has been besieged by protesters, and Moffat has been threatened to such an extent that the police have become involved. Parkfield has received 80 formal complaints from parents objecting to Moffat’s programme.

But while protesters accuse him of being bad for their kids, it’s just been announced that Moffat is one of ten teachers from around the world who have been shortlisted for the $1-m Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2019.

He was selected from more than 10,000 nominations from 179 countries in recognition of his work promoting inclusivity and tolerance among schoolchildren, in particular for his ‘No Outsiders’ programme.

In recent weeks, however, Moffat’s school, which serves a predominantly Muslim community, has become the focus of demonstrations by parents worried that children are being taught about same-sex couples and gender identity when they are too young.

Image via YouTube

One mother, Fatima Shah, above, complained:

Children are being told it’s okay to be gay, yet 98 per cent of children at this school are Muslim.

Moffat, who is gay and was forced to leave his previous job because of a backlash over his sexuality, said he was delighted to have made it to the shortlist for the prize, which he hoped would give his work on equality and tolerance a global platform.

Asked about the protests, he said:

I’m quite pragmatic. We’ve got to find a way to engage parents on some issues that many find challenging. Yes, at the moment we are having challenges in my own school. But it’s about not running away from those challenges. What alternative is there?

Moffat, who was awarded an MBE in 2017 for services to equality and diversity in education, said there had been a misapprehension that his No Outsiders work was about sex education when it was about promoting social cohesion by teaching equality and helping children to become tolerant of difference.

Many parents have come to me to say this work is important and they support it.

Hazel Pulley, Chief Executive of the Excelsior multi-academy trust to which Parkfield belongs, paid tribute to Moffat’s success. “

It’s a tremendous outcome for Andy after all his hard work and dedication. It’s just such important work, enabling us all to live together and learning to accept difference.

Very sadly the school has got caught up in the debate around possible changes to sex and relationships education in 2020. Andy has had threats that were very unpleasant. The police are following certain lines of inquiry.

The prize was set up to highlight the important role teachers play in society, and the winner will be announced next month at a ceremony in Dubai during the Global Education & Skills Forum. The other finalists teach in Georgia, Brazil, the Netherlands, India, the US, Argentina, Australia, Japan and Kenya.

Announcing the shortlist, actor Hugh Jackman said:

When I was a kid there were lots of superheroes that I wanted to be. But I can tell you right now, from where I stand, with all my experience, the real superheroes are teachers – they’re the ones that change the world.

According to the BBC, Moffat was commended for his work in improving opportunities for pupils in a deprived part of Birmingham, in a school where most are from Muslim families and many speak another language at home.

UK Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, said the top ten placing of Moffat was:

Another appropriate moment to thank all our teachers for their dedication and exceptional work, day after day, for our children and our society, in their unique role.

H/T BarrieJohn

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  • barriejohn

    Good for him!

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    The parent who claimed that the school wad 98% muslim is this acurate? If so he is very brave and determined. Good teachers are heros

  • barriejohn

    It’s possible, but what gets me is the total lack of logic in her statement:

    Children are being told it’s okay to be gay, yet 98 per cent of children at this school are Muslim.

    So what? Does this mean that no Muslim could possibly be gay, or that Muslims are unable to tolerate gay people? She doesn’t say.

  • Tawreos

    Religious people never get why there is a problem with them asking for tolerance for their intolerance towards tolerance.

  • barriejohn

    The head of Ofsted has spoken out in support of the school:

    How long before they’re setting up a “Muslim school”?

  • adhoc

    I guess there are no gay Muslims. One would think there were more than a few gay Muslim men in the world, why else would you dress women up in bags like they all had cooties?

  • epeeist

    There was a discussion on the Moral Maze last night which touched upon the case of Shamima Begum.

    One of the participants argued that we will be judged not on how we treat people who are similar to us, but how we treat people who are different and therefore the moral thing to do would be to allow her to return. My immediate thought was, well yes but this equally applies to Begum and and her ISIS husband. How did they treat others who were different from themselves.

  • Raging Bee

    No, we really shouldn’t treat her husband the same: he was more likely to have played a responsible role in ISIL operations. Shamima was a minor, and as a girl, she probably would not have had much say in ISIL political or military actions. I think the UK should let her back in, and keep careful track of her actions and associations afterword.

  • epeeist

    How long before they’re setting up a “Muslim school”?

    There are both Muslim and Orthodox Jewish schools in the UK as well as Christian ones. They tend to fail inspections fairly frequently.

  • Broga

    “Children are being told it’s okay to be gay, yet 98 per cent of children at this school are Muslim.”

    Would she care to say if she is in favour of FGM and what percentage of that 98 per cent have suffered that fate?

  • epeeist

    I think the UK should let her back in, and keep careful track of her actions and associations afterword.

    I must admit to mixed feelings on this, I think the first thing one should ask is whether the UK government should actively try to extract her from the refugee camp where she is apparently living or whether they should be passive and only consider whether to admit her if she reaches British jurisdiction, a consulate or an embassy for instance. To quote Arthur Hugh Clough do we take the attitude, “Thou shalt not kill; but needst not strive officiously to keep alive”.

  • MR

    Banishment is so underutilized these days.

  • Ann Kah

    Most important things the religious (any variety) don’t understand:

    (1) There actually are people in the world who believe something different from you
    (2) They all think you are wrong, just as you think they are wrong
    (3) That’s OK, they don’t have to agree with you *
    (4) That’s OK, you don’t have to change their minds **

    * in the civilized world
    ** ditto

  • barriejohn

    I’m well aware of that, as I’m in the UK! What I meant was: how long before THESE parents decide that their only course of action is to set up their own “Muslim school” (and we all know what that means)?

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    I expect the pupation of gay people among muslims is the same in any other group on the planet except that being gay and muslim is very dangerous in some places suicidal.It5s just the same old you cant teach that its against out beliefs

  • barriejohn

    And telling the pupils that some children have same-sex parents (a fact of life) will obviously turn them gay!

  • TrickyDicky

    I would add:

    (5) That following a religion is a “life-style” choice

  • TrickyDicky

    I have often thought how West Falkland would make an excellent site for a penal colony on the lines of Devil’s Island.

    I know I am showing a tendency to being a bit soft, South Georgia would, of course, provide a less comfortable location.

  • guerillasurgeon

    And if the lessons were about tolerance towards Muslims…………..

  • barriejohn

    Why not? Secularism SHOULD provide the best assurance of religious tolerance, though it doesn’t always work. The religious can’t see this, as they tend to think that tolerance means their particular religion getting preferential treatment. I’ve just seen this tonight:

  • Don

    I think probably both. Didn’t the leader of Iran or Saudi Arabia claim there were no gays in their country? Religion needs to die.

  • barriejohn

    The President of Iran did make that claim (probably because he thought he’d executed them all), and so did the Chechen leader:

    Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic, has said that are no gay men in his country – and if there are then they should be deported to Canada.

    Asked by a reporter from HBO about the abduction and torture of gay men in the republic, he said: “This is nonsense. We don’t have those kind of people. We don’t have any gays.”

    He then went on to say that, if there were indeed any homosexuals living in the Chechen Republic, they should be deported to Canada.

    I hardly think I need to point out the logical fallacy in THAT statement!

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    the comment about the number of ‘Muslim children’ at the school is just irrelevant, 2 – 5% of them are still going to be gay, they may be obliged to hide it but that doesn’t change reality

  • huzonfurst

    All these offended parents are free to go back to the shit-hole countries from whence they came – and the UK government would be more than happy to pay their transportation costs!
    PS: I’m an definitely *not* any kind of supporter of Herr Trump, but there are in fact too many countries that are most accurately described as shit-holes, and most of them are Muslim-majority!