A teacher at a Birmingham school where 99% of students are Muslim has been shortlisted for the ‘World’s Best Teacher’ prize.
Andrew Moffat, who is the assistant head teacher at Parkland Community School, joins fellow Brits Emma Russo, a physics teacher from London, and Jimmy Rotheram, a music teacher from Bradford, as finalists for the gong.
Along with his duties as assistant head, Mr Moffat teaches personal social health education (PSHE) at Parkland, where he has spearheaded his ‘No Outsiders’ programme. The after school club gives students the opportunity to meet people of different races, religions and backgrounds from around Birmingham, while informing them about the importance of values like inclusiveness and tolerance in society today.
Mr Moffat, who is openly gay, previously resigned from a different Birmingham school in 2014 after parents expressed concern about him teaching their children.
“It was a very difficult time and I was quite damaged by the experience,” he told The Guardian.
Yet four years down the line, Mr Moffat’s efforts to promote understanding and dialogue have seen him awarded an MBE in 2017 and a nomination for the best teacher gong. So while we can’t personally vouch for his abilities as a teacher (our school days finished a long time ago) we reckon he’s doing pretty well at Parkland.
His work at Parkland is arguably all the more impressive given the school’s recent history. In 2013, it was at the centre of the ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal, when several schools in Birmingham were allegedly part of an ‘Islamist take over’.
While the story certainly whipped the media into a frenzy, the conspiracy proved to be completely false.
Mr. Moffat’s success seems to only show how bizarre the whole episode was. Whatever did (or did not) take place in Birmingham, the ensuing years have certainly shown how schools like Parkland, far from turning inward, are championing an openness that reflects the diversity of their students (there are over 20 nationalities represented at the school).
Mr. Moffat will head to Dubai for the award ceremony at the Global Education and Skills Forum in March of 2019. The winner will be selected with a shortlist of 50 finalists.
Congratulations to Mr. Moffat and good luck!