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Time to take politics out of the classroom, says ex-cabinet minister

Former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey said pupils were being ‘indoctrinated’ in some schools.

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Ex-work and pensions secretary Esther McVey (Danny Lawson/PA)

Ex-work and pensions secretary Esther McVey (Danny Lawson/PA)

Ex-work and pensions secretary Esther McVey (Danny Lawson/PA)

Left-wing views being pushed by teachers in the classrooms could be putting working class pupils off their studies, according to an ex-cabinet minister.

Former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey told a panel event at the Blue Collar Conservatism conference in Mansfield that pupils were being “overly indoctrinated” in learning settings.

She said: “I would say for a long period of time, I would never have known what my teacher thought, politically or in any other way.

I think that needs to be removed from the whole educational system - a left-learning bias in the whole education platformEsther McVey MP

“They wouldn’t have tried to indoctrinate me.

“I am now hearing that people aren’t teaching you what they need to – they’re overly indoctrinating you, it’s gone political, people are saying it has gone to the left, they’re forcing ideas on you.

“And that I think needs to be removed from the whole educational system – a left-learning bias or an educational bias in the whole of the education platform.”

The Tory MP for Tatton added: “The reason I bring that up, when we talk again about white working class lads maybe being disengaged, I’m thinking about what was the vote in Mansfield? What was the vote in Ashfield? It was a very big Brexit vote.

“And I’m thinking to myself, are people thinking, ‘Why do I want to be engaged in a classroom if somebody doesn’t think like me, doesn’t vote like me, and you know what, they’re now telling me what is it and questioning my belief or my family’s beliefs’.

“And that’s why I think you need to remove all of that from the classroom.”

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Education Secretary Gavin Williamson took part in a question and answer session during the conference (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson took part in a question and answer session during the conference (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

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Education Secretary Gavin Williamson took part in a question and answer session during the conference (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

In a later question and answer session, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said “political impartiality” needed to be respected in the classroom.

Mr Williamson, who was not asked about the current Covid-19 cases spike at UK universities in a pre-recorded interview with Ms McVey, said: “We’ve got to ensure there is political impartiality right across the spectrum.

“Educational organisations are state funded and you’ve got to ensure that you do have that impartiality and that you’ve got to make sure there is a broad spectrum of views.

“I’m sure you’ve spoken about it, I’ve spoken about it, of the importance of freedom of speech, of making sure people aren’t ‘no platformed’.”

The Cabinet minister said the situation of “no platforming” mainstream politicians “shouldn’t be tolerated” in higher education, calling the decision by an Oxford University society in March to cancel a talk by former home secretary Amber Rudd “crazy”.

PA