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'Education needs to be objective, not subjective': Rev Steve Chalke responds to latest government guidance for schools

by Alex Collett

Schools in England are going to be given new "impartiality guidance" to help them teach sensitive political issues.

The rules say schools should be free to teach students about controversial events - but it may need to be reserved for older pupils.

They also suggest the focus should be on "balanced factual information" rather than "promoting theories".

Founder of the Oasis network of schools, Steve Chalke tells Premier it is important for teachers and students to welcome open conversations.

Chalke said: "I think the new guidance issued this morning by the DofE, around how schools should be providing balanced education and teaching around contentious issues without a political bias is important, but I think that this doesn't really go any further than the guidance that schools already operate within. 

"More than that, I think that all teachers understand intuitively that education isn't indoctrination and it's not proselytisation either. 

"Education needs to be objective, not subjective. 

"That doesn't mean of course, that in a classroom, students, children and older students won't ask a teacher, their teacher their point of view on something, but a good teacher just understands in their core, it's baked into them, that you discuss things in an objective way."

Steve went on to say that it's important that school's set the right tone: "The other thing I'd say, is a tone around all of this is set from above, isn't it? 

"I was taught as a kid, that fish rots from the head down. 
"In other words, if we live in a society where people are rude to one another and dismissive of one another, and it's not just politicians that do that and it's not just social media that does that. 

"What it's fine for people to have different points of view, but we're not aiming at tolerance are we're aiming at a respectful discussion."

"We employ some 6,000 teaching staff. They've always understood that their job is to be is to be open minded, respectful, and to try to hold balanced conversations around important subjects."

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