Saturday, September 24, 2016

UK: Teacher sues school for showing a YouTube video of 9/11

(Birmingham) Teaching assistant Suriyah Bi lost her job at Birmingham's Heartlands Academy after just a week last year after she opined about how children studying Out of the Blue, by Simon Armitage, a poem about a victim of the 9/11 terrorist attack (the poem is part of the AQA GCSE syllabus) were shown a YouTube clip of 9/11, which she thought was inappropriate.

Bi wasn't employed by the school but rather by an agency, and when the school said they no longer wanted her services, she lost her position. She cited that showing children the video of 9/11 was offensive and also illegal as it had a 18 certificate.
'Most of the children in the class didn't even know what 9/11 was. The kids thought it was a robbery. Imagine what their parents must have thought when they went home and told them what they had been watching.'
All that was a year ago and now it seems Bi is taking the school to court for - wait for it - unfair dismissal and religious discrimination.

Well, as this is the UK, her claim has been upheld and she can now pursue her cash grab after it was sanctioned at an employment tribunal which has approved her bid to pursue legal claims against E-Act who sponsor a number of academies, including Heartlands.

Outside the hearing, Suriyah said:
“It was shown to some 30 children during class. I understand the video was shown without the permission of the authorities. It raised questions about what safeguards there are in schools to protect children. “These were children aged 11, of whom many knew little, or nothing, about the 9/11 horror. “They were subjected to graphic scenes and some were shocked and upset. The video not only showed the plane crashing into the Twin Towers but also showed people committing suicide by jumping to their deaths from the tower blocks. Such young children should not been shown things like that because it is well-known that it can play on their minds and even induce them to kill themselves. I was in the classroom when the video was shown and I quickly objected. Later, I was told to leave the school."
Now why were children made to watch a video of 9/11 as part of their English lesson? Here is the poem in question, make your own mind up.

Out of the Blue, by Simon Armitage.

You have picked me out.
Through a distant shot of a building burning
you have noticed now
that a white cotton shirt is twirling, turning.

In fact I am waving, waving.
Small in the clouds, but waving, waving.
Does anyone see
a soul worth saving?

So when will you come?
Do you think you are watching, watching
a man shaking crumbs
or pegging out washing?

I am trying and trying.
The heat behind me is bullying, driving,
but the white of surrender is not yet flying.
I am not at the point of leaving, diving.

A bird goes by.
The depth is appalling. Appalling
that others like me
should be wind-milling, wheeling, spiralling, falling.

Are your eyes believing,
that here in the gills
I am still breathing.

But tiring, tiring.
Sirens below are wailing, firing.
My arm is numb and my nerves are sagging.
Do you see me, my love. I am failing, flagging.
Simon Armitage