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Experts write open letter to Secretary of State for Education

Mr David Lundie Wednesday 27 July 2016

More than 37 headteachers and representatives from the major professional associations in citizenship, religious education and philosophy of education have signed an open letter to Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening calling for a renewed commitment to the teaching of PSHE, Citizenship and Religion in post-Brexit Britain.  

The letter, dated Wednesday 27th July, warns that values education such as PSHE, Citizenship and Religion are already “increasingly being squeezed out” by time pressures for core academic subjects, and “of the dangers of some schools misinterpreting the need to promote fundamental British values in ways which close down meaningful discussions.”

The letter is the result of a colloquium organised by Liverpool Hope University’s Faculty of Education immediately after the referendum result.

The letter emphasises how the area of values education has been a beneficiary of a number of positive European collaborations such as the Foundation for Peace’s European-Commission supported education tool ‘Extreme Dialogue’ designed to help schools to challenge extremism.

It says, “We acknowledge that the referendum has raised deep questions about identity and belonging for many young people… Now is the time to commit to a renewed conversation about our shared national values, ensuring that young people’s voices are heard.”

Noting that RE, Citizenship and assemblies often function as spaces where local and pupil led concerns can be addressed, the signatories call on government “to enable teachers to continue the good work of asking challenging questions, acknowledging the discomforting nature of some of the answers, and promoting a vision of our young people as global citizens.”

It also notes the All Party Parliamentary Group on RE’s recommendation that the impact of the EBacc on GCSE RS be reconsidered, and that four Parliamentary select committees, the Children’s Commissioner, the Chief Medical Officer, the Association for Directors of Public Health, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, the Association of Independent Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards Chairs as well as the vast majority of children, teachers and parents support compulsory PSHE education, and urges the government to act on this advice as a means of ensuring that this is an entitlement for all children and young people.

Dr David Lundie, Senior Lecturer in Education at Liverpool Hope University, and who organised the discussion, said: “It is vital that in times of unprecedented change like this, that we pay special attention to the impact that Brexit is already having, and will have, on young people. They and their families are already experiencing the results first hand. They are seeing reports on the news of attacks on immigrants, or worse, experiencing it themselves.

“The term ‘British values’ is itself in a state of flux at the moment, as we begin to contemplate the long term implications of leaving the EU. This letter calls for the government to help put a joined up plan in place when it comes to meaningfully communicating and engaging young people with an understanding of what is going on around them.”

 

Read the full letter: An open letter to the Secretary of State for Education

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