The No Outsiders programme created by Andrew Moffat, previously of Parkfield Community School in Birmingham and currently Personal Development Lead for Excelsior Trust, dates back to 2014. The aim of the programme is to teach children about protected characteristics as defined by the 2010 Equality Act, and supports schools’ efforts to be inclusive and cohesive.
While No Outsiders has been the subject of widely publicised and protests by some this BBC article explains more about this, and how challenging this has been for the schools affected), Andrew has delivered training in numerous schools and the programme has successfully been taught to many children.
I caught up with Andrew to find out more about No Outsiders, and what it looks like in schools. I asked him, why is there a need for a project like No Outsiders in our schools? He explained that, “statistics show that in the last few years in Britain there has been a significant rise in hate crime. What can we do about that? Should we just ignore it and hope it goes away and hope that perhaps things will get better on their own? Or should we be teaching an alternative narrative in schools; one where an inclusive ethos is developed so that all children understand about the diversity and difference that exists in our communities and furthermore, crucially, understand that they belong?”
It is clear that we need to ensure that all children feel safe in our schools and know that they are welcome, but there is a wider goal with No Outsiders. As Andrew explains, “The aim is to develop community cohesion outside the school gates in the future, but it starts inside the classroom.”
This naturally makes sense. We cannot expect children to know about the protected characteristics unless we are prepared to focus specifically on what they are and how we can behave in order to develop that cohesion that lies at the heart of No Outsiders.
I was curious to find out what No Outsiders actually looks like in schools. Reading about it is one thing, but like any education initiative, what happens in school communities is what really matters. Andrew explained that “No Outsiders is a whole school ethos that starts the moment a child enters Early Years. I work for Excelsior Trust and I am confident that every child in Excelsior schools will tell you there are no outsiders in their school, because everyone is welcome. There are lesson plans based on picture books for each year group; they are important to ensure consistency across the school and progression in understanding about equality from Reception to Year 6. But the lesson plans are just a small part of the ethos, it is the language used in school, the environment that is key to building real inclusion. The weekly assemblies are just as important; they are a great way of demonstrating no outsiders is real and happening everywhere.”
Inevitably, children gain from participating in such a programme. They appreciate the need to make everyone feel included and welcome, no matter who they are. In Andrew’s experience, children have a strong understanding of what No Outsiders give them. He told me, “If I use quotes from children you can see what they gain. These were quotes written by year 6 children at Parkfield School in September 2019, in answer to the question, “What does No Outsiders mean?”;
“No Outsiders makes our school a better school and a better community. It means everyone is welcome.”
“No Outsiders means no one is left out in a game or a talk. It doesn’t matter who you are – gay, lesbian, black, white, Muslim or Christian, it doesn’t matter. No Outsiders!”
“We are all different, unique and special inside, just the way we like it!”
No Outsiders has been in the news, and the protests that took place outside Parkfield Community School drew national attention. Yet Andrew explained that for the majority of schools there is no controversy around No Outsiders. He said, “In my new role as Personal Development Lead for Excelsior Trust I am teaching No Outsiders lessons, delivering assemblies and running parent workshops in all four schools in the MAT (multi-academy trust) and there has been no controversy or complaint since September 2019. Schools up and down the country buy me in for a day of No Outsiders teaching and training and in the last six months I have visited schools in Newcastle, Essex, Sheffield, Portsmouth, Manchester, Cheshire, Birmingham, Northwich, and Trafford, and there has been no controversy. Remember, No Outsiders was delivered with the full backing of parents at Parkfield School for four years between 2014-2018 without controversy. The controversy emerged because people who were not parents were able to stoke fear and mistrust within a community, based on misinformation and rumour.”
For Andrew, the protests that took place outside Parkfield School demonstrated how vital No Outsiders is today. “Schools must be delivering clear messages about equality to prepare children for life in modern Britain and to foster real community cohesion for the future,” he explained.
The consequences of not offering visible support to children and young people through a programme like No Outsiders are clear. “What is the alternative?” Andrew said. “Should we teach that there are outsiders? Should we teach children that some members of our community are not welcome, not good enough? Schools must find ways to teach about equality in a way that children can relate to. No Outsiders gives schools a framework to do that; everyone different, everyone equal, everyone welcome.”
Find out more…
- Andrew Moffat offers equality training days in schools and conferences nationwide. For details email firstname.lastname@example.org
- There is a new No Outsiders resource published by Routledge on March 27th; No Outsiders: everyone different, everyone equal
- No Outsiders book packs can be ordered at a discount here.
- Please see no-outsiders.com for more information about the resource, assembly plans and lesson plans.
About the author
After graduating with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading, Elizabeth Holmes completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London. She then taught humanities and social sciences in schools in London, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, where she ran the history department in a challenging comprehensive. Elizabeth specialises in education but also writes on many other issues and themes. As well as her regular blogs for Eteach and FEjobs, her books have been published by a variety of publishers and translated around the world.