'Re-educate' children who make non-PC comments, trust tells teachers

‘Re-educate’ children who make non-politically correct comments, Christian trust which runs 11 schools tells teachers

  •  Christian trust told teachers to ‘re-educate’ kids who make non-PC comments
  • Aquinas CoE Education Trust warned by ex-No10 adviser it appeared ‘sinister’

A Christian trust running 11 schools has told teachers to ‘re-educate’ children who make non-PC comments in the playground.

The Aquinas Church of England Education Trust was today warned by a former Downing Street adviser that its approach appeared ‘very sinister’ – and could even backfire by turning controversial phrases into ‘forbidden fruit’.

The trust, named after noted medieval philosopher and theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas, set out its move to challenge ‘negative language and actions’ in its Equality, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion policy.

In the latest woke move, its schools, in south-east London, Kent and East Sussex, are urged to ‘challenge negative language and actions, re-educating and using sanctions where appropriate’.

The trust says teachers ‘must challenge’ pupils using phrases such as ‘that is mental’ – an expression heavily used by celebrities – and ‘stop acting like a girl’.

A Christian trust running 11 schools has told teachers to ‘re-educate’ children who make non-PC comments in the playground (File image)

It advises teachers that initially they should reason with children and explain why the terms are offensive or inappropriate.

But the policy goes on to say: ‘If repeated, the form tutor needs to ‘re-educate’ the student. More than two occasions = sanctions.’ It adds that for ‘direct name calling’ involving sexuality or disability, ‘the form tutor/pastoral leader MUST give a sanction, eg a phone call home, detention, community service’.

Retired headteacher Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education and a former education adviser to David Cameron when he was Prime Minister, said the trust’s approach was wrong.

He said: ‘It’s very sinister. The phrases are in common use in the playground and if you start to focus on those for re-education, pupils could actually be drawn to them because you are making them forbidden fruit.

‘While certain children will take the policy seriously, others could be drawn to the phrases deemed as not acceptable and will see it as a challenge. Re-education is a very unfortunate term as it is associated with authoritarian and totalitarian thinking.’

Mr McGovern said the schools should instead ‘give a broad view’ of the issue and ‘talk about how certain types of language can be considered’.

He criticised the wider situation, including revisions of books by children’s author Roald Dahl, as ‘a narrowing of language to suit an increasingly woke ideology’. He added: ‘I don’t think the great St Thomas Aquinas would have been happy about this.’

Retired headteacher Chris McGovern (pictured), chairman of the Campaign for Real Education and a former education adviser to David Cameron when he was Prime Minister, said the trust’s approach was wrong

The trust runs ten primary schools in Bromley, Chislehurst and Penge in south-east London, Keston and Westerham in Kent, and Rye in East Sussex, and one secondary school, Rye College.

A parent at St Nicholas’ Church of England Primary, Chislehurst – one of the schools run by the Aquinas Trust – said children are ‘far too young’ to understand the language policy.

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The 30-year-old administration assistant, who asked to remain anonymous, said: ‘It’s too confusing for children at that age to be told they can’t say certain things.

The mother-of-three, who has three children at the school, added: ‘They’re far too young.’I think schools should at least wait until they’re older and they’ve got more knowledge and their brain can actually understand these things.’

Another mother, whose son attends St Nicholas’, raised concerns the policy is pushing an ‘ideology’ rather than promoting equality.

The 36-year-old finance assistant said: ‘I honestly think these subjects should be left until they’re older.

‘I’m very much for equality and education, and all identities should be celebrated, but our children need to come first.

‘Lobby groups have so much influence on the government. It needs to be looked into as to whether this is equality or whether it’s going further and pushing some kind of ideology.’

The controversy comes after Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s £172,000 chief fire officer said use of the word ‘firemen’ will no longer be tolerated.

Meanwhile, Dahl’s classic books have been changed, altering references about weight, mental health, violence, gender and race.

The Aquinas Trust, whose schools are rated ‘good’ by Ofsted inspectors, said ‘all staff, pupils and volunteers’ have a ‘duty to act in accordance with this policy and treat others with dignity at all times, and not to discriminate against or harass others’.

The trust, based in Bromley, added: ‘This policy has been developed with the trust’s Christian values and principles as its basis.

‘The entitlement to develop, learn and work in an environment free from discrimination is implicit in the Trust’s Christian ethos, the core of which is the ultimate worth and dignity of every human being before God.’

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