New Union Takes on ‘Indoctrination’ of Scottish Education System

By Owen Evans
Owen Evans
Owen Evans
Owen Evans is a UK-based journalist covering a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in civil liberties and free speech.
February 3, 2023Updated: February 4, 2023

A new union has been founded to counter the Scottish government’s education policy, which the union claims is indoctrinating school children with ideas around “white privilege” and “transgender ideology.”

The Scottish Union for Education (SUE) was founded after concerned parents, grandparents, teachers, and ex-teachers raised growing concerns about schools incorporating critical race theory and gender ideology into teaching materials.

Stuart Waiton, senior lecturer in sociology and criminology at Abertay University, founded the union, which will operate under the banner of “education not indoctrination.”

Other members include Emeritus Professor Lindsay Paterson, one of Scotland’s leading educational experts, Penny Lewis, a Dundee University architecture lecturer, and teacher Stuart Baird.

‘Something Needs to Be Done’

In a Substack post announcing SUE, Waiton wrote that “much of the good work identifying the trends described above has been carried out by concerned Christians, but you do not have to be religious to recognise that there is a serious problem.”

“I’m an atheist on the left of politics but over the past few years I have worked with people from all sorts of backgrounds who recognise that something needs to be done,” he added.

Waiton told The Epoch Times that the union’s campaigning will “depend upon what people want to do.”

The union has been set up for its members to have a say about the SNP administration’s education system.

“But we will be having online events and public meetings across Scotland, as well as developing research and attempting to put pressure on schools to listen to parents. We also hope to change the direction of education, to reestablish an understanding that schools should be about knowledge and subjects, rather than about socially engineering ‘correct’ values,” he added.

Epoch Times Photo
Schoolchildren meet Clyde the Team Scotland Mascot and see the Queen’s baton at Priorsford primary School during the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay in Peebles, Scotland, on June 22, 2022. (Euan Cherry/Getty Images for the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay)

Social Justice

Materials in the Scottish education system, such as the Standard for Headship document produced by the General Teaching Council for Scotland, prioritise “social justice” in their values.

In the SUE Substack, Waiton warned that “part of the promotion of social justice, which starts in primary schools, is a belief in making children aware of ‘intersectionality, and ‘protected characteristics,’ and the need to understand ‘the influence of gender.’”

The Scottish government and education authorities have embedded anti-racism and race equality into many aspects of school.

In its “Promoting and developing race equality and anti-racist education report” (pdf), the Scottish government wrote: “As the child grows, they can see diversity for example in worked examples in mathematics, in literature and through interdisciplinary learning.” The report also mentions “white privilege.”

The Scottish government also promotes transgender ideology in its schools’ guidance document “Supporting Transgender Pupils in Schools” (pdf) which says that breast-binding can “have a positive impact on a young person’s mental health.”

“The fundamental question that still needs to be addressed is this idea of whether you can self-identify as something, and that’s ultimately the question that has to be answered. The only real answer is ‘no you can’t self-identity’ or you can, but the rest of society doesn’t have to then respond,” said Waiton.

The union will campaign on the issues, rather than seek legal challenges.

“I trust ordinary people and their common sense more than I do courts, judges, and lawyers,” said Waiton.

“In a democratic society that’s how I think things should develop, that the public voice becomes even louder and it becomes impossible for the government to ignore them,” he added.

Pushback

In the UK, there is some pushback to contested theories being taught as fact.

Last July, the Conservative MP Miriam Cates discussed in Parliament how materials are being introduced into schools by external providers who are exposing children to “deeply inappropriate, wildly inaccurate, sexually explicit, and damaging materials” in the name of sex education.

Last December Cates presented Education Secretary Gillian Keegan with research from Professor Eric Kaufmann, who had written a report for the conservative think thank Policy Exchange, arguing that UK education is almost as captured by ideologies as its American counterpart.

Cates said she was concerned that children are being taught that “the organising principle of society is racism, gender theory, the idea that there are many genders, and everyone has a gender identity.”

She called them “very destructive ideas that are really attacking liberalism, the foundation of our democracy.”

In Wales, parents are fighting compulsory education on subjects such as equity, sex, gender, and sexuality.

In December, child protection advocates Public Child Protection Wales lost a legal challenge against the Labour-led Welsh administration’s compulsory Relationships and Sexuality Education lessons for pupils aged 3–16 years. The team said it is preparing an appeal.

The Scottish government declined to comment for this article.

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