Year 8 pupils at Bridlington School, Yorkshire, were given a controversial homework assignment, which left parents enraged, asking them to imagine themselves as parents of victims of the 2017 Manchester bombing and if they would forgive the terrorist responsible.
The assignment was as follows: ‘Write a response to the point of view that: ”All terrorists should be forgiven.”
Adding insult to injury, locals from Bridlington were present at the Ariana Grande concert where 22 people were blown up by suicide bomber Salman Abedi.
A cousin of one of the pupils was a victim in the bombing.
The headteacher apologized for the assignment but said that they wanted the pupils to “formulate their own views about whether hate or forgiveness are the best response to even such terrible crimes.”
One mother, who was so upset by the assignment, withdrew her child from the school until she could obtain answers, told local press, Hull Live: “There are children at the school who attended the concert and were there when the attack happened. There is even a cousin of one of the victims at the school.
“My daughter is only 12 years old and should not have to be thinking along these lines.
“How can we imagine what the parents of those killed are thinking? I know I could never forgive that attacker in the same way I could not forgive a drink-driver if they killed my daughter.
“I have not let my daughter attend school today until I can find out more about what the school is teaching our children. There is only a carol service today so she is not missing out on lessons.
“We have not been told anything but I know a lot of parents have complained and are very angry about this.”
The grandmother of one of the pupils said: “I think this assignment is absolutely disgusting for all sorts of different reasons.
“It seems to me to be brainwashing the kids and they should not have to be thinking about this kind of thing, particularly at Christmas.
“What are the families of the bombing victims going to think when they see this?
“I think the school needs to take this homework straight off and apologize to the children and parents.”
The anger spilled over to social media where one woman remarked: “My son was very seriously injured at the Manchester Arena while going to pick my granddaughter up but we were blessed he didn’t lose his life.
“I am absolutely disgusted with this and will be phoning the school later to let them know. People don’t see the aftermath of such horrific acts of hate. What a completely inappropriate thing to do.”
The headteacher, Kate Parker-Randall, tried to explain that the question was set to get the pupils thinking about the consequences of certain crimes and the aims of different punishments, according to The Daily Mail.
She said: “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 are the best response to even such terrible crimes.
“I would like to reassure parents, pupils and the community that the feelings aired on social media were totally unintentional consequences of setting this homework, however, I do understand that some people may find it difficult to understand why a school would ask students such a challenging question.
“It is important that students should be able to express their own thoughts and give reasons for their feelings.
“However, having reflected on the matter we would in hindsight have posed the homework question in a different way.”