UK Education Reform: ‘Cancel Culture’ Is A Form Of Bullying And ‘No Platforming’ An Attack On Free Speech, Pupils Will Be Taught

  • Date: 26/09/20
  • Daily Mail

Teachers will tell pupils ‘cancel culture’ is not part of a ‘tolerant and free society’

Pupils will be taught that ‘cancel culture’ is a form of bullying and ‘no platforming’ an attack on our freedoms.

As part of the Government’s drive to protect freedom of speech, secondary school students will learn that people with controversial opinions should be respected.

In Department for Education training manuals, teachers are instructed to tell pupils that the ‘cancel culture’ which has taken root at many universities – where individuals call for a boycott of a person or company whose views they don’t agree with, in the hope they lose their job or clients – is not part of a ‘tolerant and free society’.

Pupils will be taught that 'cancel culture' is a form of bullying and 'no platforming' an attack on our freedoms [File photo]
Pupils will be taught that ‘cancel culture’ is a form of bullying and ‘no platforming’ an attack on our freedoms [File photo]

The move appears to be a direct response to incidents where mainstream speakers, including former home secretary Amber Rudd, have been blocked from speaking at universities by political opponents.

The comments are part of a slide presentation in a module on ‘respectful relationships’, as part of the new relationships and sex education curriculum beginning this year.

One slide says: ‘Reinforce that everyone needs to show the same respect to others regardless of how different they are to them. Explain the harm caused by ‘cancel culture’ and the importance of freedom of speech and freedom of association to a tolerant and free society.

‘Teach that censorship and ‘no platforming’ are harmful and damaging. Explain that seeking to get people ‘cancelled’ (e.g. having them removed from their position of authority or job) simply because you disagree with them, is a form of bullying and is not acceptable.’

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has repeatedly threatened legislation unless universities do more to protect freedom of speech on campus.

In another section, the department says teachers must not suggest that ‘children might be a different gender based on their personality and interests’.

It also warns schools not to work with organisations that promote the idea that ‘non-conformity to gender stereotypes should be seen as synonymous with having a different gender identity’.

The rules appear to be a response to increasing criticism of activist groups seen as pushing children and young people into transitioning gender, with many children saying later they regret their decision.

‘We are aware that topics involving gender and biological sex can be complex and sensitive,’ the guidance says. 

‘You should not reinforce harmful stereotypes, for instance by suggesting that children might be a different gender based on their personality and interests.

‘Resources used in teaching about this topic must always be age-appropriate and evidence-based.

‘Materials which suggest that non-conformity to gender stereotypes should be seen as synonymous with having a different gender identity should not be used and you should not work with external organisations that produce such material.

‘While teachers should not suggest to a child their non-compliance with gender stereotypes means either their personality or their body is wrong and in need of changing, teachers should always seek to treat students with sympathy and support.’

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