Schools must promote ‘impartiality’ by avoiding being ‘woke’ or ‘intolerant’ in lessons: Ofsted

Schools have to tread a ‘careful path’ between being ‘damned for being intolerant’ or ‘slammed for being woke’, Ofsted’s chief inspector has said.

Speaking at an Office for Students event, Amanda Spielman said schools and colleges have to navigate the ‘whole landscape of equalities and rights’ with caution.

‘We want schools to children to become engaged citizens without tipping over the line of impartiality,’ she added.

The Government released guidance on political impartiality for schools in February, aimed at helping teachers avoid ‘promoting contested theories as fact’ in England.

It suggested the teaching of historical figures should focus on ‘factual information’ about them, while lessons on the British empire should be presented in ‘a balanced manner’.

Some anti-racism campaigners criticizing the guidance as ‘disturbing’, claiming it appeared to focus on ‘creating a debate about the ‘culture wars’ rather than helping pupils learn about racism and prejudice.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said the issue of political impartiality in classrooms is ‘a complaint I’m hearing more and more’, and that teachers should cover ‘the full range of political issues they need to’.

He said pupils should be able to read books containing racial slurs at school, adding it is ‘really important that children are allowed to be able to be curious… to understand where this stuff comes from, rather than (where you) create these sort of false filters for them’.

Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, (above) said teachers now had to tread a ‘careful path’ between being ‘damned for being intolerant’ or ‘slammed for being woke’

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi had urged teachers to cover 'the full range of political issues they need to'

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi had urged teachers to cover ‘the full range of political issues they need to’

Meanwhile, Ms Spielman said the pandemic is still ‘looming large over everything that we do’ from early years to universities, and schools and higher education institutions need to work together to give young people the ‘confidence’ to go on to further study.

‘A big part of that will always sit with schools and colleges themselves,’ she said. ‘They need to set a culture that values ‚Äč‚Äčlearning and one that sees the accumulation of qualifications as the natural by-product of a rounded education, rather than an end in itself.

‘In the wake of Covid and the learning gaps that so many young people have, it’s not good enough to cover the same ground at twice the speed – that won’t help these young people as they develop and it won’t help universities as you take on the next generation of students.’

She said schools are expected ‘to handle so much more than academic education, as society evolves, and sometimes, as support services are withdrawn’.

Schools’ vital role in safeguarding had been exposed during the first lockdown when social services referrals fell’ just as ‘children slipped out of sight of teachers, she said.

The Government released guidance on political impartiality for schools in February, aimed at helping teachers avoid ‘promoting contested theories as fact’ in England.

Some anti-racism campaigners criticizing the advice as ‘disturbing’, claiming it appeared to focus on ‘creating a debate about the ‘culture wars’ rather than helping students learn about racism and prejudice.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said the issue of political impartiality in classrooms is ‘a complaint I’m hearing more and more’.

He said pupils should be able to read books containing racial slurs at school, adding it is ‘really important that children are allowed to be able to be curious… to understand where this stuff comes from, rather than (where you) create these sort of false filters for them’.

Last month, equalities minister Kemi Badenoch said when she was growing up in Nigeria the legacy of the British Empire was taught in a ‘nuanced’ way.

She urged schools to emulate this and teach about both the positive and negative aspects.

Ms Badenoch had just published the Government’s strategy on tackling racial disparities, which includes plans for a new model history curriculum.

A world map showing the British empire in 1902. Britons were more nostalgic for an empire than any other former imperial power, according to a 2020 YouGov survey

A world map showing the British empire in 1902. Britons were more nostalgic for an empire than any other former imperial power, according to a 2020 YouGov survey

A 2020 survey found Britons were more nostalgic for an empire than any other former imperial power.

The polling, from YouGov, showed 27 percent of people in the UK would have liked Britain to still have an empire, 50 percent would not and 23 percent did not know.

It also found a third of Britons believe countries colonised by Britain were ‘better off’.

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