Britain’s largest teachers’ union has called for “activist training” on issues such as “whiteness” in order to make “white privilege and colonialism visible” in schools.
Guidance for teachers from the National Education Union (NEU) said that there is an “urgent” need to “decolonise” all phases of education in the United Kingdom in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, which spread across the Atlantic Ocean from America last year.
The over 450,000-member union suggested that specialists could “train teachers and schools on whiteness, anti-racism, creating tools for critical self-reflection and understanding the system”, and “make white privilege and colonialism visible” in schools, according to a document seen by The Telegraph.
The document said that all aspects of the education system including how classrooms are laid out, the curriculum, and the daily routines of pupils have all “been shaped by colonisation and neo-liberalism”.
The Critical Race Theory-style report went on to claim that there is a “silence around British imperialism and racism” in British schools and that British culture itself is “saturated with a longing for return to Empire without any understanding into what Empire is/was”.
Despite a parliamentary committee finding that working-class white students have been falling behind many of their counterparts, the NEU instructed teachers that the view that “white pupils, in general, are doing worse overall is not accurate” as more black pupils per capita are living in poverty.
The union said that the discussions around problems facing the working-class white communities served as “barriers and myths” about racism.
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The joint secretary of the union, Mary Bousted, said that Britain has ignored the role black people and former colonies had in its “island story” in schools and that the country is “still struggling with the idea that people of non-European descent can be European”.
Dr Bousted said: “What and how we teach, and whether we think about over-looked voices and untold histories, contributes to whether we’re giving young people equal opportunities to succeed at school.
“Decolonising can lead us to a more empathetic and fairer society, which is good for us all, but it’s also about high-quality teaching and more time for critical thinking skills in school.”
The chairman of the Commons Education Committee, Robert Halfon MP, said: “Privilege is the very opposite to what disadvantaged white children enjoy or benefit from in an education system which is now leaving far too many behind.”
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Responding to the leaked document, the chair of the Common Sense Group of Conservative MPs, Sir John Hayes, said: “This is sinister. To think that people with such a warped view of the past, present and future should be instructing our children is chilling.
“The truth is Britain has made disproportionately noble contributions to the history of the world.”
Former headteacher Mark Lehain of the Campaign for Common Sense added: “Schools are there to educate pupils, not evangelise for extreme ideologies or turn children into activists. It’s sad that a union would encourage its members to push things that are so divisive.”
In April, the National Education Union was accused of pushing Soviet-style “indoctrination” after guidance from the union called for toddlers to be schooled on the nature of “white privilege” with the aim of developing “anti-racist views” within the minds of young children.
“It is also time to challenge the widespread notion that ‘children do not see race’ and are colour blind to difference,” the guidance argued, adding: “When adults are silent about race, children’s racial prejudice and misconceptions can be maintained or reinforced.”
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