Batley Grammar School: RE Teacher Speaks Out28 Mar 2021
A Muslim RE teacher shares his views on the recent Batley Grammar School controversy.
Since the teacher is a fellow professional, I am putting myself in his shoes. Nobody apart from him and the school know the facts of what happened and I would be absolutely horrified the whole country is now talking about this and making judgements.
From the info we have from the media, he did not insult anyone, he showed an insulting image (in the same way when teaching Holocaust, showing insulting images of Nazi propaganda is not insulting Jews). No RE teacher in their right mind would insult anyone like this intentionally, let alone if the majority of your students revere that person. This is not professional and violates teachers standards we are trained to meet.
What he made was an error of judgement in the resource he used in his lesson. Using Charlie Hebdo images is not the wisest thing, no matter the context. I wouldn’t and he was wrong to do so, in my opinion as well as the opinion of the vast majority of RE teachers.
The school is dealing with it internally and he has apologised.
I have made several mistakes as a RE teacher with my choice of resources when teaching something. I probably do it daily and learn from it each time, but I am lucky I have never had a protest outside my school, it being in the public domain and me having my career under threat when I have made such mistakes.
There was no need for anything to come out onto the streets from the community (and frankly looking like hooligans) or for the teacher to be named in public (which a certain charity did and put it on social media).
An email exchange with the Headteacher/meeting with those affected would have nipped this in the bud privately and he could carry on with his career learning from his mistake.
If he deliberately showed an image to provoke/insult, then this is a different conversation but I am going to assume the best of my fellow professional. Hence I would caution any action/statements apart from: Let the school deal with it internally.
Those who made this issue public through protest dealt with this emotionally and not with wisdom, which results in the ugly face of Islamophobia rearing its head again through the responses we are now seeing.