A $1 million global education award has shortlisted a teacher in Birmingham for his work teaching LGBTI inclusivity.
Andrew Moffat, the Assistant Headteacher at Parkfield Community School, is one of ten finalists from around the world for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2019.
Moffat received praise for his No Outsiders program, which teaches LGBTI awareness such as gender identity and same-sex couples.
But the classes are contentious in the local community. A number of parents have voiced their objection to having pro-LGBTI classes at the primary school.
Moffat says he has received threats and ‘nasty’ emails, with a petition against the classes gaining more than 400 signatures.
Demonstrations against his classes have also been held outside the school.
The school has sided with Moffat and defended the right to teach the classes.
Shortlisted from more than 10,000 nominees
On their website, the Varkey Foundation describes the Global Teacher Prize as a ‘US $1 million award presented annually to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession’.
Moffat was shortlisted for the prestigious award out of more than 10,000 nominees from 179 countries.
The foundation paid particular praise to Moffat’s No Outsiders program.
‘Andrew has extended this ethos to parents through the use of parent/child workshops and he has extended the programme, with schools taking forward “No Outsiders” in many cities across the UK,’ it adds.
‘[He] now also uses “No Outsiders” as a tool to reduce the potential for radicalization.
‘Andrew also runs a “Parkfield Ambassadors” after-school club that creates opportunities for children at his school where 99% of students are Muslim to meet others of different races, religions and cultures around Birmingham.’
Moffat’s fellow finalists are from the Netherlands, Brazil, Japan, Argentina, the USA, Kenya, India, Georgia, and Australia.
Moffat’s work has received high praise in the past. In 2017, he received an MBE for his services to equality and diversity in education.
Demonstrations outside the primary school
The school has been at the center of the controversy surrounding the No Outsiders program for a number of weeks.
Many parents in the majority-Muslim community object to the teaching of pro-LGBTI material to primary school children
Last week, over 100 people demonstrated outside of the school, with many claiming the primary school pupils were too young to learn about gender identity and same-sex couples.
In January, Labour councilor Mohammed Idrees of Alum Rock voiced his opposition to the lessons, saying that ‘the children are too young’ to learn about LGBTI issues.
Inspectors from Ofsted, the UK’s schools watchdog, recently visited the school, but have yet to release their findings.
In 2016, Ofsted inspectors ranked the school as ‘outstanding’, praising Moffat and his work in building LGBTI-inclusivity.