Ofsted finds ‘no serious concerns’ at ‘cat gender row’ school: Watchdog says leaders created ‘culture of kindness’ at college where teacher called a girl ‘despicable’ in row over someone ‘identifying as a cat’
- Rye College in East Sussex was reported to Ofsted by Kemi Badenoch
Ofsted has found ‘no serious concerns’ at a school where a teacher allegedly called a girl ‘despicable’ for refusing to accept her classmate identified as a cat.
Inspectors said they found a ‘culture of kindness’ after being sent to probe Rye College in East Sussex by the Women and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch who said the reported incident had raised ‘issues about safeguarding at the school’.
The school said none of its pupils ‘identify as a cat or any other animal’, in a statement last month following allegations that during the row the teacher told two 13-year-old girls there are ‘lots of genders’, which Ms Badenoch said breached the legal requirement for political impartiality in classrooms.
In a letter from Ofsted to the College, Ofsted inspector Matthew Haynes said the event that led to the inspection ‘does not reflect pupils’ normal experience at school’.
Ofsted focused on relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) and teaching of protected characteristics, because of the nature of the complaint.
Inspectors said they found a ‘culture of kindness’ after being sent to probe Rye College in East Sussex by the Women and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch
Ms Badenoch who said the reported incident had raised ‘issues about safeguarding at the school’
RSHE at Rye College was found to meet national standards and allowed students to tackle a range of issues in a ‘well-informed, articulate way’ and teach them to ‘debate contentious subjects’.
The inspector said: ‘Discrimination of any kind is not tolerated by either leaders or pupils.
‘Leaders have created a culture of kindness and mutual support in the school. Pupils work together well, encouraging and supporting each other to learn and achieve.’
A spokesperson for Rye College said they were ‘very pleased’ with the inspectors’ findings.
They said: ‘We welcomed Ofsted’s visit, as we were confident in what they would find and in the conclusions they would reach.
‘We remain committed to offering our community an inclusive education, in line with best practice that prepares our young people for the world in which we live.’
They said the school will give further training to classroom staff to support them in managing ‘complex and contentious’ discussions in lessons and on protected characteristics and implement further guidance from the Department for Education on gender identity when it is received.
In a letter to Ofsted last month ordering the inspection, Ms Badenoch claimed that a ‘widely circulated recording of a teacher acting inappropriately regarding her pupils’ beliefs about sex, gender and a fellow pupil who claimed to identify as a cat’ in the minister’s view ‘raises issues about safeguarding at the school’.
But Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said her intervention was ‘unnecessary, unhelpful and smacks of grandstanding’.
Teachers are awaiting guidance for schools in England on issues around gender identity which, on June 7, education minister Nick Gibb said was to be published ‘very shortly’.
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