War on woke in the classroom: Teachers banned from discussing 'contested' political topics

17 February 2022, 09:24 | Updated: 17 February 2022, 09:40

Activist teachers banned from discussing “contested” political topics in classrooms. Picture: Alamy

By Liam Gould

School teachers will be banned from using their own views when discussing politically-charged topics in the classroom, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said in new guidance this week.

The new guidance outlines certain topics that “should be taught in a balanced manner” and urged teachers to “stop promoting contested theory as fact".

Topics like racism, the British Empire and the Israel-Palestine conflict are all included within the new guidelines.

This comes after a primary school in Nottingham encouraged children to criticise the Conservative party by writing letters about the Partygate scandal.

The guidance adds: “Partisan political views must not be promoted to pupils” and should “make things easier” for teachers unsure of how far to express their own views.

Historical figures “with contested legacies” should be taught for “what they are most renowned for” and simply “provide factual information” to younger children that are unable to understand complex debates.

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Older secondary school pupils are to be presented both side of the argument when discussing contested political issues.

Mr Zahawi stressed that while these issues are important to discuss in the classroom, “this must not be done in a partisan way".

“In our schools, brilliant teachers explain incredibly sensitive issues that attract opposing views in a balanced and measured way," he said.

“It is a difficult job, and I commend them for the incredible work that they are doing.”

But, teachers have been urged to not lead pupils to any “conclusions” and should refrain from expressing their own political views to their students.

The guidance notes that while there are exceptions, care should be taken in ensuring political bias doesn’t enter the classroom.

“Where staff do share their personal political views, they should ensure this is not presented as fact and note there are opposing views," Mr Zahawi said.

“I am reinforcing that no subject is off limits in the classroom, as long as it is treated in an age-appropriate way, with sensitivity and respect, and without promoting contested theories as fact.”

Mr Zahawi added in a later Tweet: “Children must be given the opportunity to shape their own views on political issues, without being swayed by what others think.”

He vowed that schools existed for “education not indoctrination".