UK's Batley Grammar School reinstates teacher who showed pupils Prophet Mohammed cartoons

Independent inquiry rules staff member had no intention of causing offence

Police were called to Batley Grammar School following protests. SWNS
Police were called to Batley Grammar School following protests. SWNS

A teacher who was suspended from an English school after showing pupils satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed has been reinstated.

The drawings, taken from French magazine Charlie Hebdo, were shown to students in a religious studies lesson at Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire in March.

Protests outside the school gates led to the Batley Multi Academy Trust, which runs the school, launching an independent inquiry.

On Wednesday, the Trust published the report's findings and revealed the religious studies teacher would be reinstated.

“We accept the recommendations of the independent expert investigation and will put them into practice immediately," it told The National.

"The investigation recommends that the issues raised can be effectively dealt with through additional management guidance and training.

"The findings are clear, that the teaching staff involved did not use the resource with the intention of causing offence, and that the topics covered by the lesson could have been effectively addressed in other ways. In the light of those conclusions, the suspensions put in place while the investigation was under way will now be lifted.

"The Trust deeply regrets the distress caused by the use of this resource."

Gary Kibble, headmaster of Batley Grammar School, apologised to parents for the “completely inappropriate” showing of the cartoons.

He said the school had removed the images from the religious studies coursework.

The Trust confirmed it would no longer be using the material in its schools.

"The Trust is clear that it is not necessary for staff to use the material in question to deliver the learning outcomes on the subject of blasphemy," it said.

"Additional guidance and training will also be provided to teaching staff to help them to take full account of the needs of different student cohorts and their contexts when planning the delivery of lessons.

"The Trust will not avoid addressing challenging subject matter in its classrooms but it is committed to ensuring that offence is not caused and that this is always done with care and sensitivity, enabling students to build empathy, mutual respect and understanding."

The incident came after French schoolteacher Samuel Paty was killed by an extremist in October in the Paris suburbs after he showed students the Charlie Hebdo cartoons during a lesson on free speech.

Updated: May 26, 2021 10:12 PM

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