ANDREW MOFFAT AND PARKFIELD SCHOOL: MISUSING THE LAW TO COERCE AND INTIMIDATE COMPLIANCE

[Article taken from here]

The saga at Parkfield Community School continues as hundreds of parents withdraw their children from the school. In typical fashion, none of the mainstream media has yet to comment on the insidious way Andrew Moffat and Hazel Pulley have used PREVENT to weaponise the LGBT agenda to perpetuate structural Islamophobia.

Moffat, employing a clandestine approach protracted LGBT topics through PREVENT and the Equality Act 2010.  Whilst the Equality Act smokescreen seems ostensibly unproblematic, a deeper analysis of the proposed teaching material highlights problems.  There is indeed strong evidence for parents to be rightfully concerned about what is being taught, and in particular the way it is being taught. This, however, will be the subject of the next piece.

In this piece, we will examine how Moffat bases his teaching material on a contentious application of the Equality Act, which results in misleading claims being made to staff and parents.

“In line with British law…”

In his book, No Outsiders, Moffat sets out a plan to advocate his agenda.  He states that an ethos should be created in the school by taking a “copy about this resource, and all the books it makes reference to” and sharing it with the governors. Moffat then professes a series of statements and actions:

  • “We are not asking for governors’ permission to do this work” because the “government is already asking schools to promote equality and diversity” and Ofsted is said to be judging schools accordingly.[1]
  • Staff uncomfortable with Moffat’s ethos must be told that “the bottom line is that UK law says that schools need to promote equality… and that includes all equality”.[2]
  • Extending the equality duty to visitors to the school because “you sign up to [our opinions]” because in the end “we are following the guidelines set out in British law”.[3]
  • Parents should be told “at our school we teach… no outsiders and that includes people who are gay. This is in line with British law and the Equality Act 2010…”.
  • Objecting parents should be told that “UK law says that gay people can get married and bring up children” and that children should be exposed to this.[4]

The information is either misleading and/or intimidating in that “laws” are referenced to justify actions that have no foundation in any statute. What makes this worse is that Moffat’s project overrides faith considerations of the children and their parents.[5]

Equality Duty

The basis of the above is what is referred to as the “equality duty” which requires public bodies to have “due regard” of the following:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

Moffat cites the above and goes on to state that one cannot promote diversity of faith and not diversity of sexual orientation.[6]

It is worth highlighting some relevant statutes and guidance documents.

The Equality Act 2010 outlines the equality duty and generally applies to public bodies.[7] Having “due regard” refers to the obligation of employers to remove inequality and disadvantage based on the protected characteristics.

The “fostering good relations” limb of the equality duty is relevant here. The Act explains that fostering good relations means to have due regard to “tackling prejudice and promoting an understanding between the protected characteristics”.  The explanatory notes provide an example of an application of this, where a school may implement a homophobia/anti-bullying policy.

Another noteworthy document is the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s tips on tackling discriminatory bullying. This document suggests a “whole school approach” to tackling bullying by creating a “culture of inclusive and supportive community”. It further adds that policies should “acknowledge all protected characteristics”. In terms of “celebrating difference”, it proposes having “visible role models and positive images of disabled people, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT), women, people from different faiths and minority communities across school”.

However, it also advises “supporting children and young people to understand puberty and sexual development; to recognise harmful sexual behaviour; to learn about consent, and to communicate concerns about sexual bullying”.  The significance of this will become apparent further below.

The document references the government’s bullying guidance document, which reiterates the equality duty. It does not state that that under the equality duty, children are to be subjected to an indoctrination of ideas antithetical to their beliefs.

The DfE’s equality duty guidance is also not “prescriptive” in terms of how the duty is to be implemented (5.9). The guidance explains how the duty should be applied:

“It should be particularly easy for schools to demonstrate that they are fostering good relations since promoting good relations between people and groups of all kinds is inherent in many things which they do as a matter of course.”

It then goes on to provide examples, such as “promoting tolerance and friendship” or “sharing understanding of a range of religions or cultures,” and so forth (5.23). There is no suggestion that particular characteristics need to be specifically explicated in way which undermines the religious beliefs of children and parental rights.

There are a few points to observe here. Firstly, a document full of “tips” does not equate to “law”. Secondly, the abovementioned tips crossover into areas governed by guidance around sex and relationship education (SRE). This is important because it indicates that the document contains generic suggestions which would need be concordant to DfE guidance on Relationship and Sex Education. Thirdly, the DfE’s current equality guidance stops short of prescribing how the duty is to be delivered, suggesting generic approaches to fulfilling the duty, rather than professing programmes like No Outsiders.  There is no clarion call to indoctrinate children against theirs’ or their parents’ will.

Consideration should also be given to other legal instruments. The European Convention on Human Rights, Art.2 of protocol No. 1 enshrines the right of parents to “ensure such education and teaching [is] in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.” This applies to the “content of the teaching and the manner of its provision”.

As we shall see briefly below, and extensively in the next piece, the No Outsiders project systematically implements a programme of learning that teaches relationships, ideological views and actively undermines religious beliefs.

The DfE has only recently issued draft guidance for consultation to teach children about specific protected characteristics (the content of which reads like an intrusive blueprint for social engineering, and the legality of which has been strongly questioned by the Orthodox Jewish community).

Is the DfE currently in breach of the equality duty for not prescribing the promotion of equality in the way Moffat has?

It cements the notion that Moffat has been misleading governors, staff, children and parents. This is a point accentuated further when one considers that Moffat has given the perception that opposition to his project is not only a sign of radicalisation, but out of step with “UK law” too.

SRE through the Backdoor

Sex and Relationship and Education (SRE), as the subject suggests, covers relationship formation, family, marriage and sexual matters. The DfE guidance on SRE reiterates the withdrawal right of parents and respecting religious sensitivity. The proposed guidlines, similarly confirm this, stipulating material is taught in a manner that is “appropriate to the age of pupils and their religious background”.

No Outsiders promotes topics which clearly fall within the remit of SRE.

Establishing the No Outsiders ethos, Moffat instructs that as part of teacher training, a common language dictionary needs to be established for words like “gay” and “lesbian”. Moffat writes,

“if a child asks about the meaning of one of these terms… we are all coming back with the same response: ‘gay’ means when two men love each other and ‘lesbian’ means when two women love each other, and that’s OK – there are no outsiders at our school”.[8]

Terms like “gay” and “lesbian” are used in lessons by teachers for young children as part of the ethos under the guise of “celebrating differences”, which includes differences based on sexual orientation.

Irrespective of whether one agrees or disagrees with homosexuality, the fact remains that to understand sexual orientation and definitional explanations of “gay” and “lesbian”, it necessitates understanding the concept of attraction and relationships – concepts which fall within the domain of SRE.

In a subsequent piece, it shall be shown that Moffat also extensively pushes connected themes, such as different types of families and relationships based on sexual orientation, through his No Outsiders teaching material.

The DfE guidance on the Equality Act states that,

“No school, or individual teacher, is under a duty to support, promote or endorse marriage of same sex couples… Teachers must have regard to statutory guidance on sex and relationship education, and to meet duties under equality and human rights law.”

Recall that Moffat has told teachers that they must promote his project due to the Equality Act.

Pertinently, Moffat circumvents the right of parents to withdraw from lessons, and the need to have regard for “religious background” by stating that it is not part of SRE:

“We make it clear that governors have approved all of the lessons and they will be going ahead. Parents are not able to remove their children from these lessons as they are not part of [RSE].[9]

Later in the book, he further clarifies:

“The law says you can remove your child from RE or sex education lessons but this is a lesson celebrating diversity. The lessons are not one-off sessions; the ethos is all around the school. It is not possible to shield children from our school ethos.”[10]

Ironically, the implementation of the policy is causing an adverse impact on another protected group through the reduction of their rights. Improper consideration of adverse impact on a protected group by a policy/decision will likely vitiate a policy per R (Baker) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Others.[11]

Concluding Remarks

It is disconcerting to see how Moffat uses the Equality Act to dismiss concerns of parents, staff and governors and bully through his worldview. The claims of “bigotry” from the commentariat need to be rebuffed. If Muslims want to ensure exercise their right to remove children from topics that conflict with their religious convictions, then is that bigotry? Are Christians and Jews bigots for wanting the same? And is the DfE bigoted too for outlining the parental right to withdraw from the topics of contention and stipulating that teaching takes account of religious sensibilities?

Not content with employing the Islamophobic PREVENT policy to enforce compliance, Moffat is misleadingly intimidating parents into accepting his No Outsiders project by claiming it is “in line with British law”, thus invoking the coercive power of the state. Moffat’s approach seems to be, let’s celebrate diversity according to how I understand it, with a loaded gun of PREVENT and “British law” pointed at you.

Is it right for Moffat to coerce compliance by making misleading claims to staff, governors and parents about the law?  Is it ethical to further coerce compliance by side-stepping government guidelines on implementing relationship and sex education which affirms the rights of parents to opt out? Does making a topic that clearly falls under SRE part of an ethos remove the rights of parents?

These are question the parents at Parkfield School need to direct at the school.

The questions, however, are not over yet. In the next piece, it will be shown how, using the cover of the Equality Act and “celebrating diversity”, Moffat’s No Outsiders programme amounts to indoctrination and proselytism.


References

[1] Moffat, A., 2016. No Outsiders in Our School. London: Speechmark Publishing, p.6

[2] Ibid., p.8, 26

[3] Ibid., p.29

[4] Ibid., p.38

[5] Ibid, p.7

[6] Ibid.

[7] s.149(3)

[8] Ibid., p.28

[9] Ibid., p.31

[10] Ibid., p.37

[11] [2008] EWCA Civ141