We recently received an email from a parent who was both concerned and very angry at the PSHE work sent out by her child’s secondary school.
The school had linked to a website called ‘The Day’; an online newsletter which produces ‘talking point’ articles looking at current affairs and linking them with various school subjects. The Day claims to look at current events ‘without bias’ and to help students to ‘think for themselves and talk about everything’.
The article tagged under ‘PSHE’, ‘English’, and (ironically) ‘Biology’ for the 10th June is an astonishingly biased and defamatory article about J.K. Rowling and her recent comments in favour of women’s rights to single sex spaces.
The question asked is not ‘Was J.K.Rowling right to say what she did?’; nor ‘Why might women and girls need single sex spaces?’; nor, indeed, ‘Why might women not want to be called ‘people who menstruate’?’ (the subject of her original tweet).
No: the only question asked is whether people should ‘boycott Harry Potter’.
Young readers are given to understand from the text that J.K. Rowling is ‘deeply unpleasant’, ‘harming minorities’, a ‘bad person’ and has ‘done something terrible’. To complete the picture, the article goes on to compare Rowling to the anti-Semitic composer Richard Wagner, and (with incredible insensitivity) the painter Pablo Picasso, who it says has been ‘accused of a celebration of sexual violence’.
The parent who sent this to us was outraged that her school would send her child a piece of writing which implied that women should be silenced, boycotted and erased for questioning sex self-identification, and which portrayed her exercising of free speech on a matter of public debate as hateful.
When questioned, the school told her that ‘The Day’ is linked to by the DfE as a resource for home learning during the school closures.
As indeed it is, at every level from age 5:
We are horrified that the DfE is promoting a resource which gives such an unbalanced view of issues affecting women and girls to impressionable teenage boys and girls.
We would like to know how the DfE is fulfilling its Public Sector Equality Duty to ‘advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic (in this case, sex) and persons who do not share it’ when it recommends resources like this.
We call upon the DfE to urgently review its promotion of this resource.
The parent who contacted us has given permission to share an anonymised version of her letter.
Although her school have now responded and removed the link from their homework portal, we wanted to share the letter because it demonstrates so well why parents need to check the work set for subjects like RSE and PSHE, which are so often outsourced to third parties with a questionable understanding of the law and child safeguarding.