Investigation into school at centre of cat gender row finds ‘no serious concerns’ at school of ‘kindness’

Rye College

The UK’s education watchdog has given the all clear to an East Sussex school at the centre of a ‘culture war’ gender controversy after it was falsely reported that a student identified as a cat.

Ofsted investigated after a recording made at Rye College appeared to show a teacher calling a pupil “despicable” during a dispute about identity.

In the recording, which was shared with the press, the teacher is also heard saying that a student had upset a fellow pupil by “questioning their identity” after the student asked, “how can you identify as a cat when you’re a girl?” The teacher is also heard saying “gender is not linked to the parts that you were born with, gender is about how you identify”.

The school later issued a statement shutting down reports from publications such as The Telegraph, stating that none of its students identify as a cat.

‘A culture of kindness and mutual support’

A snap inspection was demanded by equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, which was conducted on 29 June by inspectors Matthew Haynes and Sue Keeling.

In a letter to the school, Haynes said there were no serious concerns, Schools Week reported.

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Instead, his letter stated: “The vast majority of pupils develop a secure understanding of protected characteristics and why they are important.

“They learn about the law that underpins them, the variety of views in our society and the importance of debating these and respecting each others’ views.”

Haynes also wrote that leaders at the school had “created a culture of kindness and mutual support” where “teachers have good subject knowledge and very largely promote debate and manage pupils’ discussions well”.

It also said Relationships and Sex Education lessons covered the requirements of statutory guidance.

A Rye College spokesperson told the outlet the school had been “confident” about conclusions the inspectors would reach and were committed to “inclusive education in line with best practice”.

“As an organisation, we seek to improve by continuously reviewing our actions and will enhance our current practice, including all classroom-based staff receiving further training to support them in managing complex and contentious discussions within a classroom setting and on protected characteristics status.”

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