I was disappointed to learn that during a Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education lesson last week, in which students were learning about why we celebrate Pride Month and were learning about the LGBTQ+ community, a small minority of students (numbering eight) displayed intolerant behaviour by walking out of lessons.
The essence of these PSHE lessons is to provide students with the knowledge that will enable them to make informed decisions about their wellbeing, health and relationships and to build their self-efficacy.
I want to take the opportunity to be clear with all parents, carers and students: every student must be taught according to the national curriculum and this is not optional – the only aspect that can be opted out of is sex education. I also want to stress that every adult and child has every right to feel welcomed, appreciated and safe at our school.
Additionally, there are safeguarding implications: students cannot walk out of lessons as we are not able to supervise them outside of their teachers’ classrooms. Walking out of lessons without the express permission of a teacher will be recorded as truancy and sanctioned as per our behaviour policy.
As an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IB MYP) school, we encourage our students to be open minded by appreciating our own cultures and personal histories, as well as the values and traditions of others. We cannot accept intolerant, racist or homophobic behaviour of any kind and walking out of a lesson in which we are learning about the LGBTQ+ community is not acceptable. We are an inclusive school in which we celebrate the unique and varied identities of our students and staff. One of our key principles at Longfield Academy is respect and we show this every day by respecting every adult and child at our school, regardless of who they are.
I sincerely hope that I can continue to count on your support as we work together to prepare our students towards contributing effectively in the democratic society that we live in.
Dr F. Donkor