Scotland has been pursuing a radical course when it comes to social justice recently. The government has introduced a hate crime bill that seeks to create the offence of ‘stirring up hatred’; it has attempted to redefine the definition of ‘women’; and one SNP MP has even supported taking a drag queen to a primary school.
So Mr Steerpike was not exactly surprised to see that the social justice state is now looking to force its teachers to toe a similar line.
This year, the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) has been consulting on new ‘Professional Standards’ for teachers, which will come into force in August 2021. In June, the GTCS approved a final draft of the new standards, which it has now published online and asked for feedback.
As part of its powers, the GTCS is able to strike off teachers who do not meet its professional standards, and they are a benchmark of competence for all new teachers joining the profession. In other words, any teachers who do not subscribe to them will not be teaching for very long.
Rather worryingly then, Mr S has spotted that the teaching body has decided to adopt a left-wing political framework for its new standards.
The GTCS lists three professional values that all teachers will be expected to have in Scotland in 2021: ‘trust and respect’, ‘integrity’, and ‘social justice’.
Some of the qualities the GTCS describes as belonging to social justice are innocuous enough. It is hard to object to the idea, for example, that teachers should promote the health and wellbeing of students in their care.
Other qualities are more controversial. If the standards are enacted, it will become compulsory for teachers in 2021 to be:
“‘Committing to social justice through fair, transparent, inclusive, and sustainable policies and practices in relation to protected characteristics… and intersectionality.’
Exactly how teachers are meant to demonstrate their commitment to ‘intersectionality’ (a rather nebulous strand of identity politics that stresses the importance of competing levels of privilege) in their day to day practice, as the standards command, is beyond Mr Steerpike’s imagination.
The full list of social justice qualities the GTCS provides are here:
At the moment, the GTCS standards are still open for consultation – although ‘consultations’ don’t count for much in the Scottish state these days. But if Scotland does end up adopting these standards by August 2021, it looks like any teachers who do not subscribe to the philosophy of social justice are going to be heading for a bumpy ride.