Sheffield school apologises for 'racist' comment

A Sheffield school has apologised for a 'terrible error of judgement' after parents claimed that pupils were exposed to a 'racist' comment by a member of staff.

Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 2:54 pm

The comment is alleged to have been made during an online safety workshop on December 11 at Pye Bank Primary School, Pitsmoor.

Parents claim a staff member asked pupils taking part in the workshop: "Would you rather blow yourselves up or leave your Quran on the floor?”

It is understood the workshop was discussing the experiences of Veerender Jubbal, a Sikh who was wrongly accused of involvement in the Paris attacks when a selfie he took was digitally altered, at the time the comment was made.

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Pye Bank School.

Contacting the Star to voice her concerns, one parent said: "As around 90 per cent of the children at Pye Bank are Muslim, we find the comment ignorant and racist. It's far too serious to ignore.

“Staff should be clued up on how to deal with children from all cultures and backgrounds.”

School chiefs, who say they are 'deeply regretful for any upset caused', launched an investigation into the claims and held a meeting with parents last week.

Headteacher Mo Andrews said: "The workshop was part of Safeguarding and Prevent work for children, run by an experienced external organisation, which by its very nature sparked challenging debate.

“In the course of one session the debate took an unexpected turn.

“The staff members present were, by their own admission, challenged by the issues raised and having to think carefully about their responses, particularly in terms of dealing with the very sensitive conversation about the sanctity of life and the precious nature of the Quran.

“A member of staff made a comment that was open to interpretation and that caused offence. This was not their intention.

“The member of staff involved is mortified by any unintentional upset caused and has apologised unreservedly."

Ms Andrews added that the school leadership team along with the Diocese of Sheffield Academies Trust have arranged to meet with parents for a second time this Thursday.

She said: "This is to update them on the situation, restore any lost confidence and give assurance of the training that will take place in the New Year to prevent such an issue happening in the future.

“The school serves the diverse community of Pye Bank and all our staff are very respectful of the different ethnicities and religions.

“These are challenging subject areas for staff and the leadership of the school take full responsibility for the issue. We will ensure lessons are learned.

“The school’s leadership team are deeply regretful regarding the upset caused, but we are confident that our reputation for proudly representing this community and our relationship with our parents will help everyone to accept this for what it was- a terrible error of judgment with no malice."