A Birmingham primary school that taught pupils about LGBT rights as part of a programme to challenge homophobia has suspended the lessons indefinitely until a resolution is reached with protesting parents.
Parkfield community school in Saltley has been the scene of weekly protests over the lessons, which parents claim are promoting gay and transgender lifestyles.
School chiefs have now said the No Outsiders lessons, which teach tolerance of diverse groups, including those of different races, genders and sexual orientation, will not be taught “until a resolution has been reached”.
Previously Parkfield said they would continue as normal after the Easter holidays.
This month about 600 Muslim children, aged between four and 11, were withdrawn from the school for the day, parents said. Parkfield would not confirm the number.
It was cleared on Tuesday of any wrongdoing by Ofsted, with the schools watchdog praising Parkfield’s record on promoting “tolerance, acceptance and mutual respect” and confirming its Ofsted rating of “outstanding”.
On the same day talks took place between parents, education chiefs and the Excelsior Multi Academy Trust, which runs Parkfield, leading to the announcement that the lessons would be suspended.
In a statement, the school said: “Nothing is more important than ensuring our children’s education continues uninterrupted.
“Both parents and the trust held constructive discussions with the regional schools commissioner, and, as a result of these discussions, we are eager to continue to work together with parents over the coming days and weeks to find a solution that will support the children in our school to continue their education in a harmonious environment.
“Until a resolution has been reached, No Outsiders lessons will not be taught at Parkfield and we hope that children will not be removed from school to take part in protests.”
In January, the Guardian reported that the assistant headteacher of the school was forced to defend the lessons after 400 predominantly Muslim parents signed a petition that called for them to be dropped from the curriculum.
Andrew Moffat, who was awarded an MBE for his work in equality education, said he was threatened and targeted via a leaflet campaign after the school piloted the No Outsiders programme. Its ethos is to promote LGBT equality and challenge homophobia in primary schools.
Moffat, who has been shortlisted for a world’s best teacher award, resigned from another primary school in Birmingham, Chilwell Croft academy, after a similar dispute. He is also the author of Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools, a teaching document.
At one of the Parkfield protests, parents held signs that read “say no to promoting of homosexuality and LGBT ways of life to our children”, “stop exploiting children’s innocence” and “education not indoctrination”.
Parkfield parents’ community group, which has organised protests, said members had a positive meeting with the Department for Education (DfE) to discuss “serious concerns” with the programme.
Welcoming the suspension of the lessons, the group called off its protest for this week and said it would keep the option of future ones “under review”.
Mohammed Aslam, a spokesperson, said: “We welcome these developments and reiterate that the school needs to work with parents in a spirit of partnership and cooperation and not against them in educating their children.”