Department for Education issues statement after Batley Grammar School protest

The Department for Education (DfE) has issued a statement following protests outside a West Yorkshire School after a teacher used a "totally inappropriate resource" during a Religious Education lesson.

Protests outside Batley Grammar School.
Protests outside Batley Grammar School.

Batley Grammar School confirmed earlier today that the teacher in question had been suspended pending an "independent informal investigation".Parents gathered outside the school from 7.30am on Thursday to protest following the lesson earlier this week.

Officers from West Yorkshire Police attended the protests outside the school in Carlinghow Hill. No arrests were made and no fines were handed out.

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The DfE has now issued a statement following events that unfolded.

Protests outside Batley Grammar School.

A spokesman said: “It is never acceptable to threaten or intimidate teachers. We encourage dialogue between parents and schools when issues emerge. However, the nature of protest we have seen, including issuing threats and in violation of coronavirus restrictions are completely unacceptable and must be brought to an end.

“Schools are free to include a full range of issues, ideas and materials in their curriculum, including where they are challenging or controversial, subject to their obligations to ensure political balance. They must balance this with the need to promote respect and tolerance between people of different faiths and beliefs, including in deciding which materials to use in the classroom.”

Community figurehead Imam Mohammed Amin Pandor spoke to those who gathered outside the school on Thursday and said he will work closely with staff to make sure "things like this don't happen".

He said: "What happened here, we are disgusted.

"What has happened is totally unacceptable and we have made sure they are aware.

"The teacher has been suspended. They can't just sack him, they need to do their due process.

"We've asked for an investigation, an investigation to be independent.

"We are going to work with the school to make sure things like this don't happen."

Headteacher Gary Kibble confirmed the teacher in question had been suspended on Thursday morning.

In a statement, Mr Kibble said: "The school unequivocally apologises for using a totally inappropriate resource in a recent religious studies lesson.

"The member of staff has also given their most sincere apologies.

"We have immediately withdrawn teaching on this part of the course and we are reviewing how we go forward with the support of all the communities represented in our school.

"It is important for children to learn about faiths and beliefs, but this must be done in a sensitive way.

"The member of staff has been suspended pending an independent formal investigation.

"The school is working closely with the governing board and community leaders to help resolve this situation."