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Teachers strike at faith school over gay author ban

Teachers have gone on strike, and Ofsted has found significant damage to morale, at a South London faith school forced by its diocese to cancel the visit of a gay author. In March the Archdiocese of Southwark overruled the staff to prevent author Simon James Green from making an educational visit on World Book Day, and when governors backed the staff, promptly sacked them. Humanists UK has expressed concern about Ofsted’s findings, and offered its support to the striking teachers.

The strike, which according to reports will last for upto six days over three weeks, was called by members of the National Education Union after an overwhelming vote of 90% in favour. The first day of the strike was 28 April. However, some of the new governors installed by the Archdiocese have threatened to sack any staff who strike.

Meanwhile, Ofsted’s report following a snap inspection in the wake of the scandal has praised staff and pupils but found that ‘some leaders, staff and pupils have been left feeling angry, confused and frustrated.’ The report goes on to recommend immediate action to ‘restore stability to governance, and in turn ensure that leadership is provided with the support and challenge needed to build further on the school’s strong provision for pupils’ personal development.’

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Robert Cann said:

‘We offer our full support to all at John Fisher School who are striking to stand up against the homophobic behaviour of Southwark Archdiocese. Religion is no excuse for prejudice in schools, but sadly our outdated faith school system means this is still happening in 2022.

‘We were pleased to see that Ofsted took such swift action, and its findings make clear that the Archdiocese’s interference has caused significant and unnecessary upheaval to school life. The sacked governors must be reinstated as a matter of urgency. ’

Notes:

For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Read the Ofsted report.

Read the i’s story about the strike.

Read the author’s tweet about the strike.

Read more about our work on faith schools.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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