Teacher who sparked protests by showing cartoon of Prophet Muhammad returns to school

Batley: Protesters chant outside grammar school

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A report found the teacher’s picture “had an educational purpose” and was not intended to cause offence. He was suspended earlier in the year after following large protests outside the gates of Batley Grammar School.

But pupils at the school in West Yorkshire rallied to support the religious studies teacher, who received death threats, and demanded he was brought back.

While an independent expert investigation stated the approach wasn’t “necessary”, it also found the teacher used the image with a “genuine purpose”  in a class about blasphemy in March this year.

As Examiner Live reports, the document states: “The independent investigation has concluded and the Trust has accepted that the teaching staff who developed and delivered the lesson genuinely believed that using the image had an educational purpose and benefit and that it was not used with the intention of causing offence. The image was included to initiate a discussion about the meaning of ‘blasphemy’.

“Nevertheless, the Trust recognises that using the image did cause deep offence to a number of students, parents and members of our school community. The Trust deeply regrets the distress this has caused. The Trust also considers that the topics covered by the lesson could have been effectively addressed in other ways and without using the image.”

It continues: “The Trust considers that its lesson planning processes could have facilitated a more holistic approach to the selection of teaching aids, taking more careful account of relevant factors which would include:

  • The need to always promote fundamental humanitarian and British values

  • The nature of the material to be used

  • The reason for including it, the context and what is said about it

  • The educational benefits of including it;

  • The age, abilities and maturity of the students

  • The need to be cognisant of local context

  • The need to respect and understand all faiths and no faiths, in the delivery of RS curriculum and the importance of engaging with parents”

A spokesperson for Batley Multi Academy Trust has now said they accept the recommendations of the independent investigation and the Trust “deeply regrets the distress caused by the use” of the image.

They said: “We accept the recommendations of the independent expert investigation and will put them into practice immediately. The investigation recommends that the issues raised can be effectively dealt with through additional management guidance and training. The findings are clear, that the teaching staff involved did not use the resource with the intention of causing offence, and that the topics covered by the lesson could have been effectively addressed in other ways. In the light of those conclusions, the suspensions put in place while the investigation was underway will now be lifted.

“The Trust deeply regrets the distress caused by the use of this resource, and we would like to thank all of the Trust’s stakeholders for their contributions and support during what has been a difficult period.

“All those in our Trust’s family – whether parents, staff or members of our wider school community – want us to continue to provide a high-quality education so that our students aspire to excellence and achieve their full potential, both in their academic studies and personal development.”

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