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Meet the Author: Andrew Moffat

The No Outsiders programme is a resource which helps teach children about diversity and tolerance. The aim is to bring the world into the classroom and to talk about ways that we are different and ways that we are the same. It is just about being. We are diverse, so let’s talk about it.

As part of our Meet the Author feature, our Managing Director, Ian Fitzpatrick, had the opportunity to sit down with Andrew Moffat MBE to discuss his No Outsiders programme. Andrew has years of teaching experience, which aided his creation of the No Outsiders programme. The vision: inclusive education, promoting communitive cohesion, to prepare young people and adults for life as global citizens.

About Andrew:

Andrew Moffat MBE is a British teacher at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham, and the author of several books and educational resources, including the No Outsiders programme, an approach to teaching primary school-aged children about diversity and tolerance

In 2017, Andrew was rewarded an MBE for services to equality in education. In 2019, he was listed as a top 10 finalist at the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, received an honorary doctorate from the University of Worcester, and was appointed as visiting professor at the University of Sunderland.

Following protests about the inclusion of LGBT+ equality in his work, he was also named ‘Hero of the Year’ in the European Diversity Awards and ‘Role Model of the Year’ in Pink News.

Read below for his insightful Q&A:

What is the No Outsiders programme?

The ethos behind the programme is that there are no outsiders because everyone is welcome. The phrase was coined by Desmond Tutu, who quoted:

“Everyone is an insider; there are no outsiders, whatever their beliefs, whatever their colour, gender, or sexuality”.

The aim is to bring the world into the classroom and to talk about ways that we are different and ways that we are the same. It is just about being. We are diverse, so let’s talk about it.

I based the No Outsiders programme on the Equality Act.

I use picture books and images - I like hanging a lesson on a picture book, also I think it makes it accessible for teachers. When I was teaching, I grew up in the era of SEAL (social and emotional aspects of learning). I loved the aims of SEAL, but practically I found it very hard to teach from. So, I used the objectives but narrowed them down by linking the picture book, and story, to the objective.

What were the main barriers you faced with regard to the children?

Confidence, self-esteem, and life experience. Deprivation and poverty also played a part. There are lots of reasons why children feel like outsiders and feel like they don’t belong.

As teachers, we must ensure that every child knows they belong. But also, as a gay man growing up in the eighties, I definitely felt like an outsider. I didn’t see any representation of what a gay person was around me.

It’s about showing children you haven’t got to fit into one box. There are all kinds of differences around us, and you belong here. Whoever you are, you belong here. I accept you, and I like you.

How did your teaching experience shape the creation of No Outsiders?

I started teaching in 1995 and have spent much of my career working in behaviour units where my job was to reintegrate children into mainstream education.

I think that’s where my passion for inclusion really came from. I worked with children who definitely felt like outsiders, and it’s about how to make sure that no child feels like an outsider.

In 2014 I went back into mainstream education and have proudly worked as a class teacher for the last two years, which I’ve really enjoyed.

How do you implement this in schools?

I carry out teaching dates which are incredibly popular. I go into schools and deliver a half-hour No Outsiders lesson using a different picture book for each year group (EYFS to Year 6). The aim is for all the staff to see their children engaging with No Outsiders. I find the lessons joyful – it is wonderful to be able to go into all these classrooms, and over the last year, I must have taught approximately 10,000 children. It leaves the schools enthused and confident about a way forward. I can show the teachers how you do it and then leave them with lesson plans or follow-up work to choose from.

There are 42 lesson plans, one for each picture book. The books are wonderful, and you can teach the programme as part of literacy or PSHCE.

 

What impact have you seen in schools because of your programme?

I think there’s been a huge impact. When I first started in 2015, my school in Birmingham got an Outstanding in Ofsted, and No Outsiders was a key strength of that. I’ve had two Ofsted’s since at different schools, and in both, No Outsiders have been mentioned. I get tweets and letters from schools across the country saying we’ve had off Ofsted, and they’ve mentioned No Outsiders.

But it’s not just about off Ofsted, is it? It’s about seeing your children become confident about knowing who they are and knowing they belong. We’re now doing lots of work with oracy and Voice 21, and it’s really about children learning how to articulate and express themselves.

When I think about the children using the programme two years ago and then think about them now, they are much more open to debates and discussions.

Have you got materials for parents or guardians at home?

Yes. Twice a year, parents are invited to a No Outsiders open lesson. I’ve written a scheme for this, but you can just use normal No Outsiders lessons – the aim is really to show what it’s about.

Also, as we are a charity, we’ve produced a No Outsiders parent guide which I give out free if people email me from the website. The guides highlight all the books that we’re using and include information about the Equality Act. They also have questions that children have asked that parents might find tricky to answer. The aim is to have the same dialogues going on in school followed up at home.

Other resources are available on the No Outsiders website. There’s no subscription or registration. Anyone can get them.

What books on culture and diversity would you recommend?

I do a newsletter called Agents of Hope which I started in lockdown. The aim was to give schools resources to really talk about hope and communication during the lockdown. My argument was that teachers have to be the agents of hope for children right now because children are losing their faith in adults knowing what to do. So, I’ve carried on with that. I do it once a month, and I show new books that I like.

Some of the books we use on the No Outsiders programmes are:

  • Bathe the Cat by Alice B. McGinty . It is a book about a family and includes children with all different skin colours, so it’s a great story where children see themselves but also see diversity.
  • Nefertiti by Annemarie Anang. This book is about getting names right. Just a lovely, lovely book with a good lesson in there. It’s a simple message about belonging.

For secondary school, the programme includes books such as:

How can teachers and schools encourage culture, diversity, and inclusivity?

I think it’s just about your ethos, really. No Outsiders works because every child understands what it feels like to be left out, and no one wants to be left out.

It’s about ensuring you’ve got an ethos that is strong and that everyone understands.

What are your hopes for the future?

I have funding to do a national No Outsider's film. I've done a couple of films in my school showing children talking about equality and different diversities. I want to make a film that shows this happening all around the UK. That children are confident about the future where everyone belongs.

How can schools reading this get involved?

Anyone can get involved via:

People can also follow me on Twitter @Moffat_andrew.

Thank you to Andrew for answering all our questions. We are pleased to be involved in helping him to spread this message and programme to schools.

Watch the full interview with Andrew Moffat

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