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Political Impartiality in Schools

Volume 715: debated on Monday 23 May 2022

The law is clear that schools must remain politically impartial. I know that colleagues on all sides of the House relish going into schools for hustings during elections. Children need to learn about the yellow team, the blue team, the red team and the green team, but I recognise that some issues can be challenging to deal with, so my Department has recently published clear, comprehensive guidance to help teachers tackle sensitive issues in the classroom in a politically impartial way.

In April this year, members of the National Education Union claimed that it was somehow impossible to teach history in a balanced manner. Does my right hon. Friend share my concern that some children are at risk of being indoctrinated by political activists masquerading as teachers? Will he bring forward powers in the new Schools Bill to strike off those who repeatedly fail to comply with impartiality guidelines?

Our knowledge-rich history curriculum requires teaching methods of historical inquiry. We should be teaching children how to think, not what to think, including how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims and discerning how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed. Our guidance supports this, and schools already have powers to take disciplinary action where teachers repeatedly breach their legal duties.