Liberate Our Classrooms - Defend Our Civil Liberties
Liberate Our Classrooms - Defend Our Civil Liberties
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Latest: Oct. 21, 2020
We need your help
We wanted to update you on where we are. Before we formally issue a judicial review of the Department of Education’s new guidance on the curriculum for PHSE, we had to send a letter to the Secr…Read more
We, Coalition of Anti-Racist Educators (CARE) and Black Educators Alliance (BEA), need your support. We are taking legal action on defending the classroom against the Department for Education’s guidance to school leaders who set the relationship, sex and health curriculum, which was released on the 24th September. The guidance has been heavily criticised by teachers, parents, MPs, students and human rights organisations for its implications on free speech, free expression and having a chilling effect on conversations in the classroom.
On the 1st October 2020 we sent a pre-action letter to the Secretary of State for Education which has set out our proposed application for Judicial Review, which you can read here.
Our grassroots groups include teachers, workers, students and parents within primary and secondary school settings. CARE and BEA campaign to ensure that classrooms remain open spaces for young people to engage with anti-racist teaching and pedagogy, and we believe that the latest guidance from DfE obstructs this work.
This guidance is a thinly veiled attack on a wide range of movements fighting for urgently-needed social justice causes and will also prevent pupils from learning about alternative political ideas. The guidance ensures only the Government’s political preferences are taught in classrooms with the banning of teaching materials. As educators committed to anti-racist work, we are also gravely concerned about the way this guidance appears to censor materials produced by anti-racist organisations and activists.
Actions like this cost money and we need your help. This is a serious attack on civil liberties, which seeks to erase identities and silence discussions that are integral to the development and wellbeing of students. We believe that education in the classroom is the root to effectively challenging the disproportionate power and privilege that exists in our society and beyond. Please donate whatever you can to support us in not just securing legal representation for the Judicial Review.
We have an initial target of £15,000 in the first instance to cover our legal costs for pre-action work and to initiate proceedings. However if the Secretary of State for the Department refuses to withdraw the guidance without further legal action then it will be necessary for us to raise further funds to cover this work.
All of us at CARE and BEA would like to thank you for your generous donation and joining us in the fight for justice and liberation for all in the classroom.
We promise to keep you updated with developments from our legal team on this page and we would recommend you follow @Care2Liberate and you can find info on our progress on our websites too:
Coalition of Anti-Racist Educators & Black Educators Alliance
Oct. 21, 2020
We need your help
We wanted to update you on where we are. Before we formally issue a judicial review of the Department of Education’s new guidance on the curriculum for PHSE, we had to send a letter to the Secretary of State for Education to explain our position and to invite them to withdraw the guidance. The Secretary of State responded to our letter on 16 October 2020 and they have confirmed that they will not withdraw the guidance.
In our letter we set out four arguments: Firstly, the Secretary of State has purported to use a statutory power to set the curriculum in the wrong way. They replied that the Secretary of State has said that they don't need a statutory power to publish the guidance, they haven’t said what power they do have, or whether this guidance is consistent with that and the statutory guidance.
Secondly, the guidance is so poorly written and vague that it interferes with the rights of educators (namely Article 10 ECHR – freedom of speech). On point 2, they have cherry picked terms from their guidance, but they failed to explain what these mean. We gave them a list of things that we think might fall foul of the guidance, and their response seems to suggest that they do not know whether it would do or not. They say things that would not fall in guidance by quoting one part of the guidance, but ignoring another part of the guidance which may apply
Thirdly, we have said it's straightforwardly irrational. Finally we have said they've failed to think properly about discrimination matters when publishing this guidance. Finally, in terms of discrimination, they said they complied with this by preparing an equality impact assessment prepared for the statutory guidance. They do not say that they completed an assessment when they published this guidance. They have simply said the Secretary of State is aware of the public sector equality duty. They have not demonstrated to us how this duty has been fulfilled.
Next steps: we need your help
Call out for Evidence
We would like to have more information as to how educators and school pupils are impacted by the new PHSE guidance. We would like you to send information to our legal team directly, particularly if:
1. You are a school educator who has previously distributed materials or relied on teaching aids in the class room which you think may now be prohibited under the PHSE guidance (or you’re simply confused as to whether they would be prohibited)
- What materials or teaching aids did you use?
- Were they from an external organisation?
- Do you know if they are prohibited under the new guidance? Why?
- Would you rely on the same materials now in light of the new PHSE guidance?
2. You are a school educator who has materials you would like to distribute but you are now hesitant to do so
- What materials or teaching aids would you like to use?
- Are they from an external organisation?
- Do you know if they are prohibited under the new PHSE guidance?
- Are you hesitant to distribute? Why?
3. You are a school educator who thinks they may need to change the way that they teach in order to comply with the PHSE guidance (or you are confused as to whether you should be)
- What do you think you will change and why?
4. You are a school pupil or parent of a school pupil who has benefitted from class room discussions/activities, external speaker talks and distributed materials which you think schools/educators may now avoid due to the new PHSE guidance.
- Please provide examples and how you/your child has benefitted.
Please get in touch with Rachel Harger of Bindmans LLP firstname.lastname@example.org if you are an educator or school pupil who feels impacted by the new guidance, where possible please use the points between 1 and 4 above as a guide for information that would be useful for us to have.
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