Ofsted rules Parkfield's LGBT lessons are 'age-appropriate'

Ofsted has backed a Birmingham primary school at the centre of a row with parents over whether its lessons on LGBT rights and homophobia are age-appropriate.

The watchdog visited Parkfield Community School last month following protests by parents over the school’s “No Outsiders” programme, which teaches pupils about LGBT relationships and other issues.

But in a report published today, Ofsted inspectors said they found “no evidence” the education and equalities curriculum “focuses disproportionately on lesbian, gay and bisexual issues and that this work is not taught in an age-appropriate manner”.

Schools Week revealed on Saturday that education secretary Damian Hinds had also backed headteachers to decide when they teach such issues.

Parkfield was rated as “outstanding” in 2016, and is therefore exempt from routine inspections. But inspectors arranged a monitoring visit after concerns were raised over the school’s leadership.

In his report, Peter Humphries, a senior her majesty’s inspector, stated leaders had “maintained the high standards of education and pupils’ learning”.

He said the school is a “cohesive community” with the majority of parents “understand how the school helps their children to play a positive role in modern British society by developing their appreciation of British values”.

Pupils also “talk knowledgeably and perceptively about how individuals and groups of people may be different to them in terms of, for example, their disability, age, race, religion, belief or no belief, gender and sexual orientation”.

“Staff from a wide range of cultures and beliefs work well together and actively model tolerance, acceptance and mutual respect.

“As a result, pupils are consistently courteous, considerate and respectful of others. The majority of pupils who spoke with the inspectors said that the school’s lessons and out-of-class activities help to ‘bring pupils together’ so that ‘no one is left out’.”

However Ofsted said a “very small, but vocal, minority of parents” were “not clear about the school’s vision, policies and practice.

“This group of parents feel that staff do not sufficiently listen to their concerns.”

Inspectors have recommended the school “further develop” its engagement with parents so they all have a “clear understanding of the school’s policies and procedures, and the curriculum content and how it is taught”.

Some Muslim parents protested after the school piloted the “No Outsiders” programme, which promotes LGBT equality, claiming the classes were not age-appropriate.

This has stoked fears of a larger backlash against schools when new relationships and sex education guidance comes into force next year.

The guidance states that the government “expects” schools to teach about LGBT relationships, but the timing of such teaching is to be left up to headteachers.