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Q&A with Andrew Moffat of No Outsiders

Jan 26th 2022

When we were asked to take part in an upcoming poetry project at Storyhouse Theatre, Chester linked to the No Outsiders programme we jumped at the chance. Over the course of the last month, we have been busy writing a poetry unit around the theme of refugees with a strong focus on performance and can’t wait to launch with schools next month. You may have seen No Outsiders on Twitter or noticed the signs around schools but we thought this was an ideal opportunity to find out more and who better to tell us than founder Andrew Moffatt MBE.

Andrew Moffat MBE (born 1971) is a teacher at Green Meadow Primary School, which is part of Excelsior MAT in Birmingham, and the author of the No Outsiders programme, an approach to teaching primary school-aged children about diversity and tolerance. In 2017, Andrew was awarded an MBE for services to equality in education and in 2019 he was listed as a top 10 finalist at the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize. In 2019, following protests about the inclusion of LGBT+ equality in his work, Andrew was named “Hero of the year” in the European Diversity Awards and Pink News “Role Model of the Year”. In the same year, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Worcester and appointed as visiting professor at University of Sunderland.

How did you get started with No Outsiders?

I wrote a series of lesson plans for my school in 2007 with a focus on LGBT equality and challenging homophobia, using picture books as a starting point. A few years later, I realised that the most effective way to teach about equality was to include all differences together rather than split them up, so you don’t have a lesson on race, a different lesson on gender and another on LGBT; you talk about difference as a living thing and you bring in examples of ways we are different. Archbishop Desmond Tutu first used the term No Outsiders in 2004; he said, “Everyone is an insider, there are no outsiders – whatever their beliefs, whatever their colour, gender or sexuality.”


Why did you choose texts to deliver the themes to schools?

Since becoming a teacher in 1996, I have always used picture books. I love a good story and so do the children in my class. Today, I teach in Year 5 and the children still love a good picture book. But another reason is so I could engage with parents and demonstrate exactly how I was going to teach this – there was no hidden agenda, I could show this was really simple and I could show the picture books I was using.


How did you choose the range of texts?

By spending hours in book shops and reading. The most important element is the story; there are no issue-based books in the scheme. It’s got to have a good story that I can hook the children with. The stories are not split up in to “race books”, “LGBT books” etc, rather the stories are about difference and show characters overcoming adversity (and sometimes not overcoming it) so that we can then discuss issues through the characters.


What has been the impact of No Outsiders?

No Outsiders has had a huge impact; it’s being used in hundreds of schools and every day I receive emails asking for advice or training. As a teacher myself, I can measure the impact on the children in my own class; they are passionate about diversity and difference and they are confident standing up for equality and justice.


What’s next in store for No Outsiders?

In 2020, No Outsiders was launched as a charity which has enabled me to take the ethos out of the classroom. For example, in 2021 we held a No Outsiders Family Festival for families in Birmingham which was an incredible day of arts workshops and creativity. It’s wonderful to have a body of people with me to develop this work and make even more impact.


How can schools reading this get involved?

There is a website www.no-outsiders.com which gives lots of information and includes some short films about the work in schools. There is a contact email on the website. People can also follow me on twitter @Moffat_andrew


What message would you like to share with our readers?

My message is that you belong; everyone is welcome. There are no outsiders here!

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.


You can find out more about No Outsiders here or follow Andrew on Twitter.