Headteacher says bullying is fuelled by abhorrent views of politicians like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage

A headteacher’s heartfelt open letter on hate crime -which has blasted politicians for their ‘abhorrent views’ saying it fuels bullying – has gone viral.

By Poppy Kennedy
Wednesday, 03 July, 2019, 16:59
The letter has been shared more than 1,700 times

Andy Byers, who leads Framwellgate School, Durham, said he has published a letter he never thought he would have to write referring to an incident of bullying and an incident which happened outside the school gates – which is being investigated by police.

In the letter, which has been shared more than 1,700 times on Facebook, Mr Byers slams politicians Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage as ‘terrible role models’.

He has encouraged parents to have the discussion about hate crime with their children, tell them to be kind and not make hurtful and spiteful comments or laugh when others do saying “those who tolerate bullying or laugh along are part of the problem; as bad as the bullies.”

The letter has received overwhelming support on social media with hundreds of messages of applauding his attitude.

He says the school has students from all faiths; students who identify as straight, gay, and transsexual; students who have a range of special educational needs; and students from countries across the globe.

Mr Byers says he is proud to lead the school but says these incidents have left him feeling embarrassed and ashamed admitting: “I don’t feel proud of our school today.”

Framwellgate School

In the open letter, which was published on Friday, June 28, he said: “It is an inescapable fact that students are exposed to some abhorrent and unpleasant views.

“Our political leaders, perhaps the worst we have ever seen, espouse many of the things that we are teaching students to be wrong.

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“President Trump publicly mocked a disabled journalist and admitted (and boasted about) sexual violence against a woman; our possible next Prime Minister has made Islamaphobic remarks about the burka and, according to the news, racist comments about the French.

“Jeremy Corbyn tolerates anti-Semitism by allowing those members and MPs who are anti-Semitic to remain within the party, Nigel Farage, and a depressing number of politicians, have stoked up hatred of immigrants to justify their Brexit ideals.

“What terrible role models our young people have.”

“These views are streamed into households daily for all to see. Many parents take every opportunity to counter this hatred and teach their children about tolerance and respect.

“Sadly, there are some parents who share and agree with these views or leave them unchallenged.”

He adds: “Bullying is a terrible thing. It starts with little comments, and bullies, racists and homophobes will usually seek to justify their actions as ‘just having a laugh’ or criticise those who are being bullied as being too sensitive.

“Some national politicians justify their comments as ‘speaking directly’ or ‘using colourful language’. I need to be completely clear here. A ‘little comment’ or ‘joke’ about these issues is not acceptable under any circumstances.”

After the letter was published the headteacher and the school has received praise from parents as well as members of the public.

Natalie Fitzpatrick said: “Well written and heartfelt - well done! We need more people of authority speaking the truth and speaking for what our children should aspire to and what we need to support one another to stamp out. “

While Kate Macpherson said: “I’m really saddened that you have had to write this letter but I’m grateful for your honesty and clarity. Be assured that many of us are in full support of what you are doing and trust that our young people will bring real and positive change.”