Schools must teach children ‘how to think, not what to think’ – Zahawi

The Education Secretary says children are not “snowflakes” and must be exposed to all points of view.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi during the Conservative Party Spring Forum at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool (Peter Byrne/PA)
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi during the Conservative Party Spring Forum at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool (Peter Byrne/PA)

Nadhim Zahawi said young people “aren’t snowflakes” and schools must teach children “how to think, not what to think”.

The Education Secretary said the issue of political impartiality in classrooms is “a complaint I’m hearing more and more” as he urged teachers to cover “the full range of political issues they need to”.

In a speech to the Conservative Spring Forum in Blackpool, Mr Zahawi said “none of us want to stop children learning about politics, quite the opposite” – but said there are some who are “keen to either shut down free speech or to only present one side of an opinion”.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi during the Conservative Party Spring Forum at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool (Peter Byrne/PA)

“We all know that political issues are complicated and often sensitive,” he said.

“And this is especially the case in schools where children start questioning the world and wondering why things are the way they are.

“This can include questions about our history, how to tackle climate change, all the way through to the contested views on race and identity issues.”

It was announced this week that schools will have a new “model history curriculum” by 2024 as part of the Inclusion Britain strategy, which is a response to a controversial report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (Cred) last year.

Writing in the Daily Mail, equalities minister Kemi Badenoch said: “We need to be able to talk about race and tackle racism without creating a more racialised society.”

The Daily Telegraph reported that Ms Badenoch told an event launching the strategy on Thursday that the use of critical race theory to teach anti-racism in schools is “morally wrong”, adding: “What you are seeing in schools… it is absolutely terrifying.”

Mr Zahawi said on Friday that he recognises some issues are “challenging to teach”.

But he said it is “important, very important, that where concerns about impartiality arise, they are treated seriously and handled with the necessary sensitivity”.

He said: “That is why I have issued updated guidance to help schools understand how they should go about meeting their legal duties, allowing issues to be resolved through constructive dialogue and agreement.”

He added: “After all, as Ronald Reagan once said, how do you tell a communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in