Schools in England should not use anti-capitalist and other extreme materials in teaching, the UK government told them on Sept. 24.
The advice comes as part of the extensive Department of Education (DfE) guidance announced for schools on setting their relationships, sex, and health curriculum.
Schools should not “under any circumstances” use resources developed by groups that “take extreme political stances” even if the resources themselves are not explicitly extreme, the government said in a statement.
Banned materials include those from organizations that want to “overthrow democracy, capitalism, or to end free speech and fair elections,” it said.
Opposing Free Speech
Resources from such organizations opposing free speech, and the freedoms of association, assembly, religion, and conscience are out of bounds, it added.
The guidelines met with criticism from Labour members of Parliament.
On Twitter, Beth Winter called the guidance “sinister and alarming” in a post agreeing with Shadow Chancellor John McDonell that it was indicative of a “growing authoritarianism” on the part of Britain’s Conservative Party.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International UK (AIUK) said the government guidance was needed but had overreached when it came to banning anti-capitalist materials.
“While it’s clearly necessary to avoid materials with homophobic, racist or similarly extreme content being used as teaching tools in our schools, it’s a step too far to ban materials which question an economic model such as capitalism,” Allan Hogarth, AIUK’s head of policy and government affairs, said in an emailed statement.
“The only extreme view here is the one which suggests that it’s somehow illegitimate to even consider the validity of socio-economic systems other than the prevailing one,” he added.
A Variety of Views
Minister of State for School Standards Nick Gibb said the curriculum guidelines would help schools provide an environment echoing a variety of views and supporting individual pupils.
“These materials should give schools the confidence to construct a curriculum that reflects the diversity of views and backgrounds, whilst fostering all pupils’ respect for others, understanding of healthy relationships, and ability to look after their own wellbeing,” he told reporters.
The government guidance also tells schools not to use materials produced by organizations that use or support “racist, including antisemitic, language or communications.”
It warns against the use of materials from groups that promote or fail to condemn illegality or violence committed directly in their name or in support of them.
Another example of an extreme position was given as “promoting divisive or victim narratives that are harmful to British society.”