School tells abusive parents "you are not welcome" after racism and threats of violence

By Emma Gill

A school has warned parents they are not welcome if they are behind 'a campaign' of racist abuse and threats of violence.

Co-op Academy Swinton has been in the spotlight because of parents petitioning over 'pedantic' school rules and teachers striking because they're unhappy with the way the secondary is being run.

Last week we reported how pupils had climbed onto the roof of the school and a child's finger was injured during the first day of the strike, which continued yesterday with the first of three strike days planned this week.

Read more: Pupils claim school assembly blamed short skirts for sexual abuse

Bosses at the Co-op Academies Trust have now written to parents about the abuse the school is receiving - and warning it won't be tolerated.

The letter from chief education officer Ian Burchett says: "I’m truly saddened that in 2021 I am having to write a letter like this. Over the past fortnight we have had a number of concerns raised from parents through the appropriate channels and we will look at this and respond accordingly, including meeting with individuals and groups.

"You will be well aware that this has resulted in media coverage in the local newspaper.

Co-op Academy Swinton (STEVE ALLEN)

"Sadly, as a result of this increased coverage there has now begun a campaign of racist abuse, threats of violence, hate speech, ‘trolling’ and defamation.

"We are reporting, and will continue to report, this to Greater Manchester Police and we will work to ensure that people are held accountable."

He makes it clear that any families behind the abuse - or supportive of it - are not welcome at the school and that the headteacher Zarina Ali, who has been in the post since Easter, has the full backing of the Trust.

"To be very clear, this is totally unacceptable behaviour regardless of your point of view," says Mr Burchett.

"If you feel that this sort of behaviour is appropriate, and is a tone that you wish to set for your child, you are not welcome in our community. You are not welcome to engage with us on social media. And you are not welcome in our academy.

"Mrs Ali has the full support of governors, Trustees and of the Trust’s Senior Leadership Team in trying to create an outstanding learning environment. We have a duty of care to all of our students, our colleagues and our community and we will protect them."

More than 30 members of staff have been picketing outside the Sefton Road school during the strike action.

Some year groups have once again been asked to learn remotely this week while the strike days take place from Tuesday to Thursday.

The union behind the strike, NASUWT, has written to the Trust saying members are 'deeply saddened and disappointed to learn of the completely unacceptable online abuse'.

"NASUWT members and representatives stand firmly against racism," says the letter. "Whatever differences exist in a dispute, or in any situation, there is no place, anywhere, for racist abuse, threats of violence, or personal attacks of any kind.

"Our dispute may be ongoing but the Trust and Mrs Ali have our full support in tackling this unacceptable behaviour, and the individuals responsible for it."

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