Social Transition within the Law

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

Kemi Badenoch MP wrote in the Sunday Times recently of her experiences with civil servants when she was a minister.  It turned out that these well-meaning, expensively-educated, dedicated servants of the people would rather she had thought little and then done nothing about certain matters which I'll not reference at this time but which you can read about here.  These were not DfE civil servants, but they might well have been as the mentality criss-crosses Whitehall.  In a nutshell: professional civil servants inevitably and always know better than here-today-gone-tomorrow amateur politicians.

And dirty tricks are clearly not unknown. Badenoch writes: "The government machine wants to be comfortable and consensual and campaigners and activists know how to take advantage of this. A minister asking tricky questions can be stopped in their tracks by accusations of stoking “culture wars”. Minutes of private meetings with whistleblowers and concerned citizens can be selectively leaked or become the subject of numerous innocent-looking freedom of information requests, designed to identify targets for harassment on social media, as I discovered in one unfortunate case."

Meanwhile, on a similar theme, Suella Bravaman MP, the Attorney General, recently gave a talk to the Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project. This focuses on the proper scope of judicial power within our constitution and highlights how and by whom public power is exercised.  Her talk was on Equalities and Rights: Conflict and the Need for Clarity.  She focused on schools for a great deal of her talk, and reminded her audience of "the DfE guidance published in February this year which makes clear that where partisan political views are covered, schools [need to] ensure that these are presented with the appropriate context, which supports a balanced presentation of opposing views.  It is important to be clear what are scientifically tested and established facts, and what are questionable beliefs."

Her context was not environmental or climate change protests or the transition to net zero, though it might have been.  Getting this balance wrong puts schools at risk of an Ofsted scolding.  Getting it egregiously wrong, for example in wilfully defying the law and parental wishes, puts it at risk of something much more serious: legal action.  If I were still a school governor or, say, the CEO of an academy chain, I'd be asking urgent questions.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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