education

Teacher suspended for showing Prophet Muhammad cartoon can return to classroom


There were angry scenes outside Batley Grammar School in March after it emerged pupils had been shown an image of Muhammad (Picture: PA)

A teacher who was suspended after showing children a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad can return to the classroom, a review has found.

The incident at Batley Grammar School earlier this year sparked widespread protests but an investigation concluded the teacher in question didn’t intend to cause offence.

It’s thought the man – who is not being named – is still in hiding at a secret location with his family and is unlikely to return despite the decision.

The Batley Multi Academy Trust, which runs the school in west Yorkshire, has said the topics covered by the lesson ‘could have been effectively addressed in other ways and without using the image.’

The trust added that it is ‘not necessary for staff to use the material in question to deliver the learning outcomes on the subject of blasphemy’.

But the man, and his two colleagues who also showed similar images, ‘genuinely believed’ using the image had educational purposes, the review found.

Angry protesters gathered outside the school for several days in March after it emerged the cartoon had been shown in a Religious Studies lesson – forcing it to close temporarily.

The trust said it recognises that using the image did cause ‘deep offence’ to a number of students, parents and members of the school community, adding that it ‘deeply regrets the distress’ caused.

Batley Grammar School in Batley, West Yorkshire, where the teacher was suspended (Picture: PA)

A spokeswoman for the Batley Multi Academy Trust 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 under way will now be lifted.’

Despite the ruling, the teacher’s father told MailOnline that his son’s ‘whole life has been turned upside down’ and he’s unlikely to return to his old job.

In light of what happened, the National Education Union (NEU) is calling on the Government to step up and support teachers and schools urgently with guidance around the teaching of controversial issues as part of the RE curriculum.

Kim Leadbeater, the Labour candidate for the by-election in the Batley and Spen constituency in West Yorkshire, said it was ‘completely unacceptable that a teacher was forced into hiding and his family were put at risk.’

Ms Leadbeater, who is sister of murdered MP Jo Cox, added: ‘The report makes clear that while mistakes were made, this was not done out of any malice or ill-intent. Staff should now be supported to get on with the important job of helping all their pupils get the best education possible.’

A Department for Education spokesperson encouraged parents, families and the local community to recognise the findings of the investigation.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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