How did we get here? The parent’s campaign to ensure the legal and moral rights of themselves and their children has been at the heart of this campaign. Ninety percent of the parents at Anderton Park School have supported this campaign. Parents have always supported the school and the head teacher in the education it provides their children and have been shocked at the school’s behavior over this issue.
This campaign is not and has not been against the head teacher or the school. It is about parental and children’s rights. The parental campaign has NEVER supported homophobia and this campaign has not been against the LGBTQ+ community. Contrary to current law Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson and Anderton Park Primary School implemented an SRE policy WITHOUT ANY consultation with parents at all.
Sarah Hewitt Clarkson has stated that if she buys books for the library she wouldn’t consult parents, why would she consult them over this? We say the difference is that The Children and social care act (2017) states, in respect of mandatory relationships education for primary school pupils, at section 34, that religious background and age appropriateness must be taken in to account. It also states that BEFORE any of this education can be delivered there has to be a consultation. Parents are not asking for anything special, just their legal rights, that Schools across the country provide other parents and children.
We would like everyone to consider the fact that parents are the primary educators of their children, according to the law. It is also an international human right, enshrined in UK law in the Human rights act 1998, that parents have the RIGHT to have their children educated in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions. There has been high-handed behavior by the School and Council, starting with the lack of consultation, leading on to shrill statements to the media and culminating in this disproportionate and unjust injunction. A course of action that the council did not use against the EDL, the FLA, Britain First or any other number of fascists. Instead an injunction has been applied to PEACEFUL protesters.
As parents we have been under a huge amount of emotional stress due to this behavior and intolerance shown to us by both the School and the Council. Parents have been reduced to tears at the way they have been described and treated. All the school has to do is get of its high horse and talk to parents. Regardless of what the Authorities have said it has not been mandatory to teach SRE. Even where it is taught there has to be a parental consultation FIRST.
The police have given consistent positive reports after every demonstration to state that it was peaceful and NO breaches of the peace have been committed. We have these reports in hand. As parents we find it both upsetting and insulting to suggest that we would put our children’s safety in jeopardy. We have been peaceful, considerate and law abiding. We have asked again and again for the school to simply talk to us and our representatives. In its arrogance, the school has consistently ignored us, even when 600 out of the 720 children were removed from school for the day as a protest.
We WILL challenge the injunction in court; we will also judicially review ALL of the unjust and irresponsible behavior by the School and Council. We are also left with no option but to continue with our peaceful protests, starting this Friday on Stoney Lane at 2:30pm, we will not be silenced.
We are exceptionally affronted by the amount of money and time that the Council and School have wasted on fighting parents, instead of talking to them and their appointed representatives. The thousands of pounds of tax payer’s money now spent on this injunction, by the council and school, can be added to this huge bill. The Council and the school need to be held accountable for this. Parents are calling for three things: 1. For the current RSE/SRE programme and teaching around LGBT+ relationships at the school to be suspended; 2. A proper consultation involving third parties where the parents, NOT the school, decide who represents parents; 3. For any future programmes to be BOTH age appropriate and religiously sensitive. I would like to add that I have not spoken personally in public previously, because this has been such an emotional issue for me. I, like other mothers, carry each child for nine months, bringing each one in to this world through immense personal pain. We stay awake at night with them through illness. We worry about them through days and nights. Then the Council and School tell us that we have no rights over our children, even though the law says otherwise. All of the messages coming out of the school and Council about us have made me personally fearful for my child’s future. As parents do we have no rights?