Headteacher apologises over claims teacher told Sheffield pupil 'monkey drawing was a portrait of himself'

Lowfield Primary School, in Sheffield
Lowfield Primary School, in Sheffield

The headteacher of a Sheffield primary school where a parent claims her son was told his drawing of a monkey was a portrait of himself has apologised.

Christopher Holder, headteacher at Lowfield Primary School, in Lowfield, said the comment which was made to Isaiah Powis by a teacher was a unfortunate and a misunderstanding,

Lowfield Primary School, in Sheffield

Lowfield Primary School, in Sheffield

He apologised for any upset it may have caused and hoped the incident would not undo years of positive work the school had done in its multicultural community.

The school is one of the most multicultural in Sheffield - 33 languages are spoken by pupils and 90 per cent of pupils are black and ethnic minority children.

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The incident happened in class on March 7 when Isaiah, aged 10, was completing a task during a guided reading session during his class teacher's planning and preparation time.

As part of this work on rainforests he decided to draw a monkey's head within his poster.

When the teacher came to collect his work, she asked him if he had drawn a self-portrait and the rest of the table laughed.

His mother Paulina Francis, 33, is reported to have said the teacher's comment was 'disgusting' and 'unbelievable'.

She said her son expressed that he did not find the remarks funny while other children on his table began to laugh at him.

Mr Holder said he fully investigated the comments in line with the school's complaints procedure.

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He spoke to everyone involved, including the teacher, teaching assistant who was in the class and pupils.

"The teacher had walked past and glanced down at the table and made a throwaway jokey comment about what the child had drawn," said Mr Holder.

"Everyone at the table laughed as it was seen as a joke, but the teacher realised immediately what she had said and that it may have offended the boy.

"She was mortified and apologised immediately."

Mr Holder said he wrote to Miss Francis explaining the outcome of the investigation.

He added: "While it was an unfortunate and regrettable comment it certainly wasn't racist in intent.

"We are sorry for any upset that was caused as a result of what was said.

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"We are a very inclusive school and have a long and proud history of multicultural education and hope this misunderstanding doesn't undo years of work done in this community.

"The family are valued members of our community and we hope that we can put this behind us.

"We are a very inclusive school. It's a very multicultural place and this kind of thing is so out of character."