School sparks fury after asking students to pen forgiveness letter to Manchester Arena terrorist

Published on 18 December 2019 by Kirsty

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Last modified 19 January 2021

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Children have been asked to write an essay as a parent of a Manchester bomb victim on the topic: “All terrorists should be forgiven”.

On May 22, 2017, Bomber Salman Abedi killed 22 people, mostly children, and injured 139 at an Ariana Grande gig at the Manchester Arena.

The shocking homework was set for Year 7 pupils at Bridlington School in the East Yorkshire town.

It read: “Imagine that you are a parent of one of the Manchester bombing victims.

Write a response to the point of view that ‘All terrorists should be forgiven’.”

Angry parents blasted the school and branded the homework “disgusting” and “shocking”.

James Colangelo-Cole, 36, whose son was set the homework at Bridlington School in the East Yorks town, said: “To ask a child firstly to imagine they had a child murdered and then to link it to the Manchester attack just beggars belief.

“My missus sent me a screenshot and I just said straight away ‘there’s no chance I’m letting him do that’”

“I posted it online and someone contacted me who had lost someone in the attack. I could only apologise.”

One mum said: “It’s bizarre and disgusting. Why would you put those thoughts in children’s heads.”

Campaign for Real Education chairman Chris McGovern: “Many parents will be shocked, appalled at this assignment.

“It’s small wonder that some parents choose to home school.”

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: “I doubt children of that age would have the level of maturity to cope with this without it doing them emotional harm.

Headteacher Kate Parker-Randall apologised for any upset caused.

She said it was important to ask kids “challenging questions” but added that it should have been put differently.

“The essay was set as part of a personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) lesson which was considering the consequences of crime and the aims of different punishments.

“It followed a discussion in class about a newspaper report that the mother of one of the victims of the Manchester Arena attack had forgiven the bomber for killing her son.

“The essay was intended to allow students to formulate their own views about whether hate or forgiveness is the best response to even such terrible crimes.

“I do understand that some people may find it difficult to understand why a school would ask students such a challenging question.

“However, having reflected on the matter we would in hindsight have posed the homework question in a different way.”