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Home News Chris McGovern: Lessons in FGM, anti-homophobia, porn, British Values and radicalisation. No...

Chris McGovern: Lessons in FGM, anti-homophobia, porn, British Values and radicalisation. No time for maths then

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The Government has put teachers on the ‘front line’ in its fight against terrorism. Guidance being sent out to both primary and secondary school heads informs them that radicalisation must be treated as a “safeguarding issue”. A Whitehall source told The Times that radicalisation “is grooming and should be dealt with in the same way as child exploitation. The extremists use the internet to recruit young people and schools should be teaching about the dangers of that.”

In an apocalyptic opinion piece in the same newspaper, headlined “Cameron prepares to drain the terrorist swamp”, Rachel Sylvester writes of this battle as “a defining issue of his [Cameron’s] time as prime minister.”

What are classroom teachers, struggling to meet more and more academic targets, going to make of this latest responsibility to be imposed on them? Their response might justifiably be the proverbial: “When you are up to your a*** in alligators it is difficult to remember that the initial objective was to drain the swamp.”

The ‘baggage’ of social work and surrogate parenting attached to teaching these days grows ever more burdensome and includes, for example: female genital mutilation, forced marriage, anti-homophobia, obesity, financial literacy, healthy eating, drug abuse, how to use a toilet, how to eat with a knife and fork, sex and relationships education, anti-gang measures, anti-social behaviour, internet porn, ‘British Values’ and now, radicalisation.

With all of this, and more and more of the same, how on earth are teachers going to have time properly to cover the traditional school curriculum centred on academic subjects, the arts and physical education? Should politicians be dumping so many of society’s ills on the laps of schools?

Small wonder that four in ten new teachers quit the profession within a year. Most of us become teachers in order to teach, not to become social workers, police officers, care assistants, promoters of political correctness, arbiters of ‘British Values’ or, now, with the new anti-radicalisation responsibility, an arm of MI5.

This latest measure, combating radicalisation, illustrates an alarming muddle in Government thinking. The previous initiative with regard to so-called “British Values” requires schools to teach to pupils, tolerance and understanding of a full spectrum of views and beliefs, even those with which they may disagree. The underpinning philosophy is ‘value-relativism’ – all opinions are equally valid. On the academic level this is why Russell Brand and Dizeee Rascall are now offered alongside Shakespeare and Jane Austen for A-Level English. How worthy each is to be studied for advanced level is dependent on your personal point of view. This may dumb down the study of literature but it is unlikely to threaten national security.

However, once we set the beliefs of religious fundamentalists alongside the beliefs of Western democracies and, in line with “British Values”, see them as different but equally valid, we are in dangerous territory. Through its “British Values” initiative our hapless Government is promoting the likelihood of radicalisation rather than diminishing it. Can it be prosecuted?

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Chris McGovern
Chris McGovernhttp://www.cre.org.uk
Chris McGovern is the Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education. A retired head teacher with 35 years’ teaching experience, Chris is a former advisor to the Policy Unit at 10 Downing Street under two Prime Ministers.

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