Zahawi intervenes over Brighton schools' 'concerning' race classes

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi steps in after 300 schools in Brighton and Hove tell children as young as seven they are not ‘racially innocent’ because they ‘see whites as top of the hierarchy’

  • Mr Zahawi said the law is clear that contested ideas must not be taught as facts
  • Materials from training say white children see themselves at top of race pyramid 
  • MPs have called for Green-led council to be investigated by EHRC commission
  • Former education minister Sir John Hayes said training ‘warps’ young minds
  • But the council says programme feedback has been ‘overwhelmingly positive’
  • The Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has sent officials to investigate Brighton and Hove Council over reports that ‘concerning’ race theories are being taught in the 300 schools run by the Green-led local authority. 

    It comes after 4,700 people signed a petition, slamming Brighton and Hove Council for allegedly teaching primary school children they are ‘racists’ or ‘victims of their classmates’.

    Children as young as seven are being taught that they are not ‘racially innocent’, because they view ‘white at the top of the hierarchy’, according to the Sunday Telegraph, who were leaked slides from race training given to teachers in Brighton and Hove schools. 

    Mr Zahawi said: ‘Every day in schools across the country, brilliant teachers are teaching sensitive issues in a balanced and inclusive way – which is why reports like this one are so concerning.

    ‘These issues can be divisive if covered the wrong way, and I am clear – as is the law in the country – that any contested theories and opinions must not be presented to young people as facts.’  

    Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has sent officials to investigate a Brighton and Hove Council teacher training course, which propounds the idea that children as young as seven are not 'racially innocent'

    Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has sent officials to investigate a Brighton and Hove Council teacher training course, which propounds the idea that children as young as seven are not ‘racially innocent’

    ‘My officials are in contact with Brighton and Hove to understand the exact nature of these materials. 

    ‘I know as well as anyone that race can be a tricky issue to cover, but we should strive to show young people that those things that we have in common are much greater than anything that might separate us.’ 

    The training has not been fully rolled out across Brighton and Hove, with only around 300 school staff having completed the Racial Literacy 101 course.

    According to the Sunday Telegraph, the course propounds critical race theory and white privilege, racial ideologies which have attracted criticism for sowing the seeds of inter-race resentment and division.

    The Racial Literacy 101 course materials informed teachers that ‘between the ages of three and five, children learn to attach value to skin colour: white at the top of the hierarchy and black at the bottom’.

    Over 4,700 people have signed a petition in Brighton and Hove entitled, ‘Stop the council teaching our kids that they are racists or victims of their classmates’.

    The petition accuses the council of teaching a ‘warped ideology’ and alleges that the council has refused to release the training materials under the Freedom of Information Act, citing the commercial interests of the training providers.

    At the same time, the council’s ‘Anti-Racist Schools’ strategy document calls parents who object to critical race theory, a controversial racial ideology, as ‘potential barriers to implementation’.    

    Former education minister Sir John Hayes told the Telegraph: ‘This echoes the kind of indoctrination used by Maoists and Marxists — there is nothing more cruel than those with duty of care warping the minds of young children.

    ‘I will be raising this as a matter of urgency in the House of Commons and expect the Secretary of State for Education, in defence of Brighton’s children, to crack down on these militant extremists.’  

    Brighton and Hove council is under fire after unveiling plans to make its schools 'anti-racist' (pictured above is Brighton's Royal Pavilion)

    Brighton and Hove council is under fire after unveiling plans to make its schools ‘anti-racist’ (pictured above is Brighton’s Royal Pavilion)

    Meanwhile, two dozen parliamentarians have written to the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate whether Brighton and Hove Council may have fallen foul of the 2010 Equality Act and the public sector equality duty, requiring taxpayer-funded bodies to promote positive relations between people of different races.

    Brighton council launched its plans in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, when protests swept across the US, UK and many other Western countries.

    Its chair of children, young people and skills, Hannah Clare, said training has been ‘co-developed with people affected by racism, and addresses the urgent need to tackle issues that have historically led to inequalities for people of colour’.

    She added: ‘Education settings have confirmed that there is a need for this strategy and commitment to the work. It includes behaviour management, recruitment and retention of staff and helping young people understand the complex issues of race.’

    Ms Clare said feedback on the programme had been ‘overwhelmingly positive’.