Schools receive threats after fake mum and dad ban headlines

Posted On 25 Feb 2022 at 9:55 am

St Luke’s Primary School by Hassocks5489 on Wikimedia Commons

The headteachers of four Brighton schools who were falsely reported to have banned children saying mum and dad have received threatening and abusive emails as a result.

The Daily Mail and The Argus both ran headlines which made the inaccurate claim about St Luke’s, Elm Grove, Carlton Hill and Saltdean primary schools.

This is, the heads say, despite the council’s press office telling them this was not the case.

The Argus also ran a separate story quoting Hangleton councillor Dawn Barnett – who is not on the council’s education committee and whose ward is several miles away from the schools – calling the school staff “raving lunatics”.

And the Mail story was shared on Facebook by Hove councillor Robert Nemeth, who refused to take it down even after being told by many school parents the headline was factually inaccurate.

They both quoted school policies which said teachers were encouraged to use the word grown-ups when talking about parents and carers collectively – a practice which has been commonplace in schools up and down the country for many years now.

The policies made no mention of any directive for children themselves. The schools have also made it clear that teachers are free to refer to individual children’s carers by whichever term is appropriate.

In a letter published by the Argus yesterday, the heads said: “As headteachers of four busy, thriving and family diverse schools in Brighton, we have been shocked and saddened by your recent stories claiming we are “scrapping” the use of the words mum and dad.

“We can assure you and your readers this is not the case. No one has ever mentioned banning or cancelling the use of mum and dad, and never will.

“As school staff, we have long used the words “grown-ups” and “parents and carers” when addressing the children collectively to respect family diversity.

“Our parents and carers, as well as our children, know this and support us. We also have the support of Brighton and Hove City Council.

“When we talk to children about their individual families, we use whatever is appropriate to them eg mums, dads, mum and dad, dad, mum, grandma, grandpa, foster mum, foster dad etc.

“We are told this was clearly pointed out by a council officer, but still the stories went ahead.

“We’ve all received threatening and abusive emails, not from parents and carers who know and agree with how we address our children, but from readers of your newspaper and others who read the national media’s misleading articles also.

“Running a busy school is difficult enough and the last two years have been extremely tough on children, parents, teachers and support staff.

“Articles such as these only serve to make our jobs even harder.

“The headteachers of Carlton Hill Primary, Elm Grove Primary, Saltdean Primary and St Luke’s Primary.”

  1. Sandy Jones Reply

    It is less than six months since an MP was murdered. It is disgusting that Councillors Barnett and Nemeth are pushing these damaging conspiracy theories and putting these teachers in danger, in the hope of some form of party political gain. They should be ashamed of themselves.

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