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CofE criticised for advising schools to teach on ‘white supremacy pyramid’

by Heather Preston

The Church of England has been criticised for teaching pupils about white privilege in anti-racism guidance issued to educators.

Resources produced by the Diocese of Coventry to teach about racism in schools encourages educators to teach pupils that their white privilege allows them to “benefit from the systematic oppression of People of Colour through racist policies and practice,” and that white privilege means “no one questions your citizenship” or harasses you “just for existing in public places”.  The material has also been issued to teachers in the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.

It suggests that white privilege be combatted through education, by “amplifying the voices of People of Colour", and being "more than just ‘not racist’ but actively ‘anti-racist’ and confronting racial injustices.”

Teachers using the materials are also encouraged to use what's termed the 'White Supremacy Pyramid' or 'Allport Scale of Prejudice in Society', to help pupils understand how bias, stereotypes and prejudice can lead to racist words and actions, leading to physical harm and death.

A report from Don’t Divide Us (DDU), a racially diverse group that contests the idea that Britain is "systematically racist", says the guidance helps promote radical political beliefs and divisive teaching around race theory in schools.

The campaign group says it aims to be a “common sense” voice on race and “to push back against key ideas in critical race theory".  According to DDU director Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, this includes that Britain is an institutionally racist country, with white people having special privilege and “black people needing white people to get out of the way for them to succeed.”

The report, 'Who are the Experts' investigates anti-racist third party organisations (3PO) in schools for their impartiality.  It claims that the model of racism and anti-racism promoted by many 3PO’s is rooted in Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Referring to an excerpt from the Church of England’s school guidance, the report says it “shows it is highly partisan and has a strong activist orientation."

Nigel Genders, the Church of England’s chief education officer, told Premier in a statement: "Racism exists in our society, and both children and staff experience racism in schools every day.

“The Church of England is committed to addressing racial injustice and we encourage children in our schools to be courageous advocates for equality and to challenge prejudice without political partiality."

He says the Church’s aim is to help “celebrate equity, diversity, belonging, inclusion and justice at every opportunity, and to ensure that staff and children can flourish irrespective of ethnicity.”

The DDU says its report highlights ethical and potentially legal boundaries being regularly crossed and that 48 out of 49 3POs it surveyed “promote contested political beliefs from Critical Race Theory” as fact.

“This is in breach of the duty of schools to provide impartial teaching,” it adds. The report claims 52 per cent of surveyed parents (excluding those who answered 'don't know') believe schools should not teach pupils that Britain is "structurally racist".

Don't Divide Us is now calling for the government to commission an independent review into third-party organisations who provide lessons, materials and instruction to schools on “contested assertions about race, gender and other contentious issues".

Their report was officially launched on Tuesday evening 11th July.

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