'Teach impartially' advice may cause avoidance of 'difficult' topics, fears ASCL President

17 February 2022, 20:58 | Updated: 17 February 2022, 21:00

By Tim Dodd

President of the Association of School and College Leaders Pepe Di’lasio fears government guidance to schools to teach sensitive issues in an unbiased way could cause teachers to 'steer clear' of them altogether.

New Government guidance on political impartiality in schools will help teachers avoid "promoting contested theories as fact", Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said.

Schools are already required to teach in a politically impartial way, but this is the first Government guidance of its kind on how schools should approach the teaching of sensitive issues

"Welcome. Is this guidance welcome?" Eddie asked.

"I think we would welcome the guidance Eddie, yes," Mr Di’lasio replied.

"Teachers want to be able to share lessons both in the moment and of contemporary issues, but some of them may well be worried about not dealing with it appropriately, impartially, or sensitively.

"And what this guidance does is help reassure teachers that they should be dealing with these issues, but do so with impartiality."

Read more: Ideas such as 'white privilege' should not be taught as fact in schools, says Govt

However, Mr Di'lasio also expressed his concerns: "My greatest fear with the guidance which has come out is that it could be seen as overly prescriptive, and perhaps have an unintended consequence of encouraging some teachers to think 'I'm better off steering clear of that subject, it's a hard subject, it's a difficult subject', when in fact they are the very subjects that we should be addressing.

"And we should be supporting our young people to understand better how they can navigate through them and make sure they're able to make a balanced and informed viewpoint."

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