Free speech in schools

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

According to the Times Higher, Kemi Badenoch MP, the Tory leadership contender who recently said that “some universities spend more time indoctrinating social attitudes than teaching lifelong skills or how to solve problems” is set to be education secretary in the new government.  Wednesday update  she wasn't and but is now secretary of state for international development.

As I've noted before Badenoch has a dim view of much civil servant practice, so cats and pigeons come to mind in her new post.  I don't think that she has as clear a view on schools as she does on HE, but we shall see.  I urged my MP to support her in the recent leadership contest as the best candidate on offer, but to no avail.  My MP, having supported a mix of no-hopers and the wacky along the way, eventually settled on supporting the winner.  She pursued a courageous strategy when she resigned in principle from her dream job in the cabinet as others clung selflessly on to theirs (for the good of the country). Wednesday update  she's now Culture secretary of state.

School free speech is an issue, of course; and not only because DfE policy tends to restrict it.

The Free Speech Union has, on Tuesday 13th September, a webinar on free speech in schools.  You can register here to receive the Zoom link.

The panel of experts includes anti-racist campaigner Adrian Hart of Don’t Divide Us, critic of gender ideology and co-founder of Conservatives for Women, Caroline Ffiske, and Clare Page, a London parent who raised the alarm over highly politicised teaching materials being used at her child’s school. The common thread uniting the panellists is the fact that they are all campaigning for the right of parents to access and challenge ideologically driven teaching materials in English schools.

The FSU notes that free speech issues crop up so frequently now in primary and secondary schools.  It says that there "have obviously long been clashes over sex education, often pitting religious parents against their children’s schools, but in recent years we’ve seen a marked increase in instances of parents and schools coming into conflict over the interpretation of more secular values such as ‘anti-racism’ and ‘inclusivity’, and even over the teaching of history, literature and biology. Many of the parents that contact the FSU for advice on these issues are concerned that the range of views considered up for debate within schools is too narrow and that, as a result, there may be repercussions, from teachers or pupils, should they or their children ever dare to question beliefs that are currently fashionable."

Sustainability is one of the areas that the DfE wishes to constrain discussion of, and so it will be good to hear the issues being aired.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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