Dem tell me wha dem want to tell me

The new guidance on political impartiality in the classroom seems designed to strike the fear of God into teachers for stating certain facts and to prevent them from saying anything deemed anti-establishment, says Anjum Peerbacos

Yesterday I was teaching the famous and fantastic poem by John Agard Checking Out Me History. And I’ve taught this poem on numerous occasions to numerous classes and students across the years.

But today, I had to stop and pause and just take a moment to think about what I was saying to the students in front of me.

The students asked me: “Miss, what’s wrong?”

I replied by asking: “Did you watch the news last week?” and they said “yeah Miss, Russia”.

“Yes, but did you see or hear about the news in education? What was happening in education?”

They had no idea what I was referring to. I told them what education secretary Nadhim Zahawi had said regarding the new guidance around impartiality in schools (DfE, 2022). I explained how he had said that as teachers it is not a good idea to state your opinion in a classroom, and that teachers need to be able to retain impartiality.

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