ASCL comment on Kemi Badenoch’s letter to Ofsted

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the letter from the Minister for Women and Equalities to Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman requesting a snap inspection of Rye College, in East Sussex.
“There is a need for a sense of proportion here. This involves an incident at one school in which the trust has already met with the Department for Education to share an update on the events that took place, and the school has said that no pupils identify as a cat or any other animal.
“Now we have politicians, including the Minister for Women and Equalities, weighing in over this matter in a manner that is unnecessary, unhelpful and smacks of grandstanding.
“To be clear, we have never heard of any issues arising at any schools over children identifying as animals. However, there are nine million children in England’s schools so all sorts of discussions are bound to crop up in classrooms. Teachers and leaders are very good at dealing with whatever situation arises.
“On the separate subject of guidance over matters affecting transgender pupils, we have spent the past five years constantly asking the government to provide a sensible and practical set of guidance to schools about how they should navigate this sensitive territory, but they have been left to do this entirely on their own and without any support whatsoever.
“Now, we have the government giving the impression that they are riding to the rescue over this matter, when the truth is that they have done absolutely nothing until this point in time. It is of the utmost importance that this guidance – which we believe to be imminent – is genuinely helpful and supportive to schools and pupils, and that it is not intolerant and burdensome.”