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Cancellation of LGBT author's visit to Catholic school 'left pupils unnerved', Ofsted report says

by Kelly Valencia
John Fisher School.png - Banner image
John Fisher School

A new report by Ofsted has said the decision by a Catholic secondary school in London to cancel a gay author's event at the school has left pupils and staff feeling "unnerved and upset."

Last month, Simon James Green was due to visit The John Fisher School in Croydon as part of a World's book day to talk about his novel Noah Can't Even, which features a gay character.

However, the event was axed after the Southwark Archdiocese, which oversees the school, decided his visit fell "outside the scope of what is permissible in a Catholic school."

Following the decision, Ofsted carried out a snap inspection concerned over the school's governance. 

The report found that the cancellation of the event left some leaders, staff, and pupils "feeling angry, confused and frustrated" while others are "worried about the impression these events might give of the school's ethos." 

It also described the school as a "caring" community, adding that "pupils described the school as one where, 'everyone just fits in', irrespective of faith, background or sexuality". 

Pupils said "leaders and staff make clear that 'it is okay to just be you'. Pupils are rightly proud that this is the case". 

At the time, the Archdiocese decided to make redundant some of the school governors who backed the event. 

As a result, 90 per cent of members of the National Education Union (NEU) at the state school have voted for strike action during six days against "a discriminatory working environment."

Ofsted's report said the Archdiocese's actions were "made unilaterally and without due regard to the published statutory guidance regarding the appointment of IEBs" and called for "immediate steps" to "restore stability to governance" and "ensure that leadership is provided with the support and challenge needed to build further on the school's strong provision for pupils' personal development."

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