Safeguarding political impartiality?
This week the UK Government published new guidance to ‘support’ teachers in tackling sensitive issues in the classroom in a politically impartial way. Read it here.
Some may be puzzled at being urged to promote ‘freedom of speech and protection from violence and criminal activity’, by a Government that has authored a police and crime bill that imposes the greatest curbs on civil liberties in the UK’s recent history. And older members may be bemused at the instruction to avoid expressing homophobic views by a political party that gave us the horrors of Section 28 in the 1980s (which was still in force when I started teaching in the 1990s), but this is at least a reflection of positive change. Other aspects are not so progressive.
This guidance purports to provide extra support to safeguard political impartiality in schools. However, we have to ask ourselves: What constitutes an extreme view, biased resource, ‘individual with contested legacy’ or an undesirable external agency?
And, who makes these judgements? Which artists would be on the list of undesirables promoting extreme political views? Hogarth? William Morris? Katie Patterson?
NSEAD raised the alarm when the DFE published their Relationship, Health and Sex Education (RHSE) Curriculum Guidancein September 2020. We warned then that this would be a blueprint for future policy, and our prediction was correct.
Be assured! This guidance is neither impartial nor supportive of any educator who believes that the purpose of education is to better understand ourselves through multiple perspectives and viewpoints.