A chilling effect: Unease at political impartiality advice for schools

“A chilling effect.” Deep concerns have been voiced about the impact that the government’s guidance on political impartiality in schools could have on open classroom discussions.

The guidance suggests that teaching about movements such as Black Lives Matter could break the rules on teaching about “partisan political views”.

It suggests that advocating specific views on “how government resources should be used to address social issues” could be considered “partisan”.

It states on climate change, “where teaching covers the potential solutions for tackling climate change, this may constitute a political issue”.

It advises that when teaching younger students about historical figures, “it may be advisable to focus on teaching about what these figures are most renowned for and factual information about them”.

Critics of the guidance (DfE, 2022), which has been published by the Department for Education, say that rather than clarifying existing legal duties for schools, it adds “new layers of mystification and complexity” and introduces “obfuscation about what is and is not a ‘political’ issue”.

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