Celebration of Queen ‘sidelines devolved regions’
A new book celebrating the life of the Queen is to be distributed to all schools in Northern Ireland despite the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales deeming it “too English”.
Queen Elizabeth: A Platinum Jubilee Celebration was due to go out to every primary school pupil this month, but at the request of the Scottish and Welsh governments, schools in those jurisdictions will be asked to opt in to receive copies.
The book was originally intended to be sent to schools within the next few weeks, ahead of the jubilee weekend next month, and was to have been available in the major regional languages, including Gaelic and Welsh.
New details and images of the book reveal the narrative will focus on the adventures of a little girl called Isabella who visits her great-grandmother and finds out about the highlights of the Queen’s 70-year reign.
Put together in collaboration with royal experts and historians, the book includes quotes from the Queen, facts on her coronation and anecdotes about the lives of famous Commonwealth figures, such as Nelson Mandela, and Prime Ministers such as Margaret Thatcher. It also contains information about notable kings and queens and a timeline of Queen Elizabeth’s life.
A local Platinum Jubilee education programme is running a range of projects aimed at different age groups and aspects of the school curriculum throughout the summer term.
The programme includes jubilee curriculum resources, a poem-writing competition, a jubilee summer fair for schools and a bake-off-style competition for pupils.
Schools will also be invited to take part in the Big Northern Ireland Jubilee Message, congratulating the Queen on reaching the milestone.
The Department of Education confirmed the book would form part of the local programme.
A spokesperson said: “The Department of Education can confirm that the publisher will distribute Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee commemoration books directly to all primary schools in Northern Ireland.”
Westminster awarded a £12m contract to London-based publisher DK books to produce 211,000 bilingual copies of the book, which will be distributed to children at just under 3,000 schools and educational establishments in Wales.
After viewing early pages, members of the Welsh government felt it would be inappropriate to distribute to every pupil.
Instead, they asked that the decision be left up to schools.
The book has been described as taking an Anglo-centric line that does not give due regard to the history of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The curricular resources for schools in Northern Ireland will include a history module on the role of the monarchy, an interactive timeline of the Queen’s reign and lessons and resources focused on the world, society and daily life in the 1950s.
There will also be a selection of short films highlighting the Queen’s connection with Northern Ireland.
As well as being distributed to schools, the book will be on private sale from June 23