Teacher who was suspended after showing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad to pupils during RE lesson can RETURN to his job because he did not mean to cause any offence, school probe concludes

  • The teacher, who is not being named, was head of RE at Batley Grammar School
  • Report has concluded he is to be allowed to return to his job despite the uproar
  • But he remains in hiding with his family following furious protests in March

A teacher who was suspended after showing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad to pupils during an RE lesson is to be allowed to return to his job because he did not mean to cause any offence, a report into the controversial incident has concluded.

The teacher, who is not being named, was head of Batley Grammar School’s RE department but remains in hiding with his family following furious protests in March.

Two of his colleagues who were also suspended for displaying similar pictures produced by him for the lessons at the West Yorkshire school are also being allowed to return to work.

A report into the affair at the West Yorkshire School conducted by the Batley Academy Trust, which runs the school said that although it was not necessary for the teacher to use the material in question, they ‘genuinely believed’ using the image had educational purposes and didn’t mean to cause offence.

The teacher, who is not being named, was head of Batley Grammar School’s RE department but remains in hiding with his family following furious protests in March. Pictured: Protests outside Batley on March 26

The report added: ‘The independent investigation has concluded, and the Trust has accepted that the teaching staff who developed and delivered the lesson genuinely believed that using the image had an educational purpose and benefit and that it was not used with the intention of causing offence. 

‘The image was included to initiate a discussion about the meaning of “blasphemy”.

‘Nevertheless, the Trust recognises that using the image did cause deep offence to a number of students, parents and members of our school community. 

‘The Trust deeply regrets the distress this has caused. The Trust also considers that the topics covered by the lesson could have been effectively addressed in other ways and without using the image.’

Despite the lifting of his suspension, the teacher’s father told MailOnline that he is unlikely to return to the school.

The father, who is not being named, added: ‘He’s not very happy. His whole life has been turned upside down.’

Neighbours of the teacher also told MailOnline that he had permanently moved from his family home just outside Batley and was now living in a secret location.

The report stated that in future, teaching materials will be subject to more rigorous monitoring and that staff will also be given more training on understanding the sensitivities of their students.

Commenting on the report, Stephen Evans, Chief Executive of the National Secular Society said: ‘The decision to lift the suspensions against the affected teachers is welcome.

‘But the trust’s stated commitment to ensuring offence is not caused is a route to censorship and sets a very poor precedent.

On March 24, the teacher was suspended and the school accompanied its unreserved apology with the announcement of an independent panel to investigate. Pictured: Protestors outside the school 

‘The outcome of this local investigation will affect teachers’ ability to do their jobs across the country. So, the government should face questions over its failure to show leadership when fundamental principles were at stake.

‘Teachers must be able to explore challenging issues in the classroom and shouldn’t face a religious veto on which resources they can use.’ 

The Mail on Sunday was told by a 14-year-old Muslim pupil that the row was sparked after cartoons depicting the Prophet were shown on an overhead projector along with other images of the former US President Donald Trump, Pope Francis and Boris Johnson.

The Prophet cartoons were first published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005 and again in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, later the target of a gun rampage that left 12 members of staff dead. 

The schoolboy said pupils were unaware of who was shown in the cartoons until the teacher spelled out it was the Prophet and asked for their reaction. 

‘No one said anything. I was just gobsmacked. But no one raised their hand to say anything,’ the pupil said.

The teenager said the teacher, a declared atheist, was popular with students and had never previously shown any disrespect towards Islam. ‘He never said anything bad, but he likes to challenge pupils’ minds. That’s the way he teaches.’

When the lesson ended and the students began to file out, the teacher asked: ‘So who is going to tell their parents tonight?’ 

The 14-year-old was one of those who did, initiating first an exchange of messages on a WhatsApp group for parents and then complaints to the school. 

One of the parents has claimed to have spoken to the teacher on the phone, writing on social media: ‘I got a call from Mr *****. I asked him to confirm what [my son] told me and he agreed. He [claimed] he has freedom of expression under his British values and could use that image. He stated he got consent from the children beforehand.’

By the following day, scores of Muslim protesters were at the school gates demanding the teacher be sacked.  

On March 24, the teacher was suspended and the school accompanied its unreserved apology with the announcement of an independent panel to investigate. 

More than 130 Islamic clerics – including Imam Shahzad – wrote an open letter to Boris Johnson, accusing the teacher of ‘white supremacist ideology’.  

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