Schoolchildren were left in tears by protests outside a school, the teacher at the heart of a sex education row has said.
Andrew Moffat, assistant headteacher at Parkfield Community School, explained how suspending the school’s No Outsiders programme was the right thing for the students.
The primary school in Birmingham hit the headlines after some parents and local adults protested outside the building against the scheme which teaches diversity and inclusivity.
The No Outsiders programme – written by Mr Moffat – teaches about the Equality Act.
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.
But the school has suspended the lessons in light of the demonstrations, some of which included chants of “shame, shame, shame” and “get Mr Moffat out”.
Speaking at the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) in Dubai, Mr Moffat said: “In the end the most important thing for us is our children, and the teaching and wellbeing of our children, and the protests were damaging the welfare of children.
“Because we have had children coming in on those days in tears, we have had children missing some part of their learning at the start of the day.
“You can’t have protests like that outside a school every week.
“So we stuck it out for four weeks but in the end we thought we can’t dig our heels in. That is what this is about.”
The openly gay PSHE teacher, who has made the final of the GESF’s 1 million dollar Global Teacher Prize, said the chants were particularly hurtful because teaching is his life.
When asked by the Press Association if he felt the protests had become personal, Mr Moffat said there were times when they did but it was important to put things in context.
He said: “I have had maybe eight nasty messages. I have had literally six hundred from across the country saying this work is important.
“In Britain today, schools have got to find a way to tackle that rise in hate.
“We can’t ignore this. We have got to find ways to teach children that if someone has got a headscarf on, I am not frightened of them.
“If someone has got brown skin and I have got white skin, I am not frightened of them. I can be friends with that person.”
Asked what messages he would like people to take from the programme and the controversy, Mr Moffat added: “To children, I would say be yourself, be who you are and be confident and speak up
“And to teachers, I would say that our job is to nurture global citizens of the future.
“And look at the way the world is at the moment, there are lots of challenges.
“The rise of the far right is very worrying – terrorist attacks. Look at Christchurch last week.
“Why did that happen? That happened because someone doesn’t understand about diversity and difference. Someone is frightened of people who are different-skinned, a different religion.
“When children ask why terrorist attacks happen, we say because not everyone understands about No Outsiders.”
When asked by the Press Association whether he hoped programmes like No Outsiders could prevent future terror attacks, or steer people away from radical ideologies, Mr Moffat said: “When I wrote it, that wasn’t my aim, but now I absolutely believe that.”
He added he had no proof but that he was working towards a PhD that examines the issue.