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London school closes amid protests as pupil 'barred from wearing Palestine flag', as head slams 'malicious' parents
21 December 2023, 14:18
A London school has had to close after protests erupted outside following a claim that an eight-year-old pupil was barred from wearing a pro-Palestine badge sewn into his school uniform.
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Images posted to social media showed large crowds outside Barclay Primary School in Leyton, east London, after the claim that the boy was "bullied for being Palestinian".
A TikToker had claimed that the pupil had been " harassed and mentally traumatised by his teachers" for his heritage.
School bosses said there was "no evidence to support any allegations of bullying or misconduct".
Protesters gathered outside the school on Thursday to shout: "Barclay, shame on you" and "education is under attack".
BREAKING: Parents are protesting outside London's Barclay Primary School amid a row with Muslim parents over alleged anti-Palestine censorship. pic.twitter.com/32E8XEV74K— 5Pillars (@5Pillarsuk) December 21, 2023
The school had been scheduled to stay open until the end of Friday, but closed early amid "escalating threats against staff and the school". The school said that the decision had been made with the safety of pupils and staff in mind.
The school's executive headteacher Aaron Wright said in a letter to parents on Monday: "Over the course of the weekend, a video was published on TikTok which has made and amplified a series of false and malicious allegations against Barclay Primary School and a Lion Academy Trust board member."
The letter, seen by Sky News, added: "This has been further shared on social media and misdirected and unhelpful commentary about the school and our staff are being circulated.
"Sadly, it seems that there is a tiny minority of carers/parents who have elected to work against the school have been directly responsible for the malicious and false content being published online."
The allegation of bullying was "formally referred by the school to the relevant external safeguarding authorities who have reviewed the allegation and found it to be false".
A previous letter, said to be addressed to parents on November 17, asked them to be "role models", warning that "extremist or divisive comments" could lead to referrals to Prevent, the government's early-stage anti-terror intervention programme.
The Lion Academy Trust, which manages Barclay, said that pupils were "being directly impacted by the actions of a misdirected and misinformed few, seeking to disrupt a primary school from exercising its proper function to educate children."
The trust added: "We will never tolerate bullying or intimidation from any source - and have the full support of the Department for Education, Ofsted and the police in this matter.
"We will take any and all necessary steps to protect our pupils, staff and values."