Schools have a responsibility to maintain political neutrality. The Education Act (1996) states that governors and head teachers have a duty to secure balanced treatment of political ideas. The Teachers’ Standards says ‘teachers uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour, within and outside school, by ensuring that personal beliefs are not expressed in ways which exploit pupils’ vulnerability or might lead them to break the law.’
Why, then, have schools been getting away with teaching highly contested political ideas as if they are accepted facts? The idea of ‘white privilege’, for example, is the principal element of Critical Race Theory, which teaches that white people are at a natural advantage and that black people are oppressed, based on nothing but the colour of their skin. CRT encourages a victimhood mentality among young black people, perpetuating the myth of white supremacy, and aligning blame for all societal problems on the white man.
CRT tells white people they are not only privileged but racist, either overtly or unconsciously. Under these rules, a white person can either admit their racist tendencies and be labelled with ‘white guilt’, or they can deny their unconscious bias and be accused of ‘white fragility’. It is a lazy Kafkaesque trap, completely closed off from challenge and criticism by design.
That is why it was so encouraging to see yesterday that Kemi Badenoch MP, the Equalities Minister, make a rousing address to Parliament during a Black History Month debate, in which she made clear that this is no longer to be tolerated. She said the government are avidly and actively against Critical Race Theory, and it has no place in our schools; any school politicising the curriculum is breaking the law.
— Calvin Robinson (@calvinrobinson) October 20, 2020
The Equalities Minister could not have been clearer:Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory are political and do not belong in schools.Teaching ideas such as 'white privilege' as a factual reality is breaking the law! 🚫👨🏫 pic.twitter.com/6VoIDVJxLi
During the debate, Mrs Badenoch also batted against arguments to ‘decolonise’ the history curriculum, pointing out that it has not been colonised to begin with.
The history curriculum is broad and balanced and contains key events that shaped this nation and the world around us. What we don’t do, and what we mustn’t do in schools is shape lessons around the identities of our pupils, or as a reaction to current events.
There is room to adapt the curriculum, but any changes should be backed up empirically and logically with robust educational reasoning – not as a reaction to the latest fad or social media trend.
There have even been calls to decolonise maths, engineering, and the sciences. Mrs Badenoch was right to point out that the last thing we want to be doing is making race the defining principle of what we teach and study. That would be entirely misguided and opposed to the fundamental principle of education. Education is not a political tool; it’s an acknowledgement that civil society is a repository of knowledge and one that is worth maintaining.
Expecting political neutrality in our schools shouldn’t be controversial. Surely, we all want our young people to be taught how to think, not what to think? Why then, was there such a tremendous backlash from the Labour backbenches during the Black History Debate yesterday? Labour MP Kim Johnson, for instance, referred to Winston Churchill as ‘a controversial figure’. There is this constant attempt to re-write history and judge influential figures of the past by today’s standards.
As with all forms of identity politics, Critical Race Theory is a tool used by activists in order to divide and conquer. By labelling people, and splitting them up into groups, the hard-left are able attempting to stoke up further division. What’s worse is we’re seeing a rise in racial tensions, where there were little or none to begin with. The United Kingdom has long been celebrated as one of the most tolerant and welcoming nations in the world. We must not let a very vocal minority on the far-left of British politics drag us back to racial segregation through indoctrination of our young people. It’s fantastic to see Her Majesty’s Government taking a decisive stance on these matters.
The tide is changing. People are waking up to the culture wars. With a Conservative government with a strong 80-seat majority, they finally have the power to reclaim British culture. It’s pleasing to see that some on the front benches also have the will to do so.