Following information that Brighton and Hove Council are planning to implement a new anti-racist policy that promotes beliefs from Critical Race Theory, Don’t Divide Us have written a letter explaining our concerns based on official council meeting agendas. If uncritically rolled out by teachers to pupils and parents, the council risks creating social divisions and a cultural climate of intolerance. If you are a parent concerned that your child’s school is promoting similar beliefs, with no or insufficient balance, read DDU’s guidance for parents on what impartiality in schools means. Read our letter below:
Thursday 6th May 2021
We are writing to you to express our concern about the adoption by Brighton and Hove City Council of their Anti-Racist Strategy for Schools as discussed at the meeting of the Children Young People and Skills Committeemeeting of November 9th 2020.
We wish to make it clear that our concerns are not because we object to the principle of tackling racism in schools, but arise from the fact that these initiatives are based on Critical Race Theory (CRT). From the evidence, it appears the Strategy has been undertaken with the intention of instilling a CRT outlook into Headteachers, Governors, teachers, parents and pupils under the guise of ‘Racial Literacy’. As Kemi Badenoch stated in the House of Commons, CRT teaches pupils that “white privilege” is an uncontested fact. As you will see from the Strategy, it inculcates a political doctrine; first into teachers then into their pupils. If this Strategy is pursued, schools would also need to be instructed to teach the version of anti-racism that is based on liberal-humanist principles. These principles, which acknowledge uniqueness of individual experiences, but emphasise our commonality and judge people according to what they do rather than skin colour (and imputed privilege) have underpinned legal and social progress in Britain’s race relations during the post-war period. They are also principles which a majority of citizens support, and thus contribute to social solidarity. If schools avoid this, or limit alternative accounts to a tokenistic mention, they would be breaking their educational and legal responsibilities to maintain impartiality when teaching controversial content. The Strategy document makes no mention of the need for impartiality.
‘This training will provide: an understanding of structural/institutional racism, white privilege and a critical race theory approach’.
As the Strategy document shows (see note 2), it is intended that ‘Racial Literacy 101 Training’ should become mandatory in schools in Brighton and Hove and that it should be used even for children within Nursery provision. Such a programme, advocated by an external agency being consulted by the council, explicitly endorses a CRT approach. This not only over-rules many decades of established liberal-universalist approaches to ‘race’ but appears to make no provision for the withdrawal of those (be they teachers or parents on behalf of their children) who object to the CRT approach. It is our view that this proposal does not meet the standards found in the Education Act (1996) s406 and s407.
We are very concerned to note in council minutes that unelected, unaccountable external groups appear to have been established to approve the CRT strategy. We note these groups are referred to as ‘Brighton and Hove Educators of Colour Collective’ and an internal group called the ‘Anti-Racism Community Advisory Group’ (or simply CAG). With non-voting ‘POC’ Standing Invitees now appointed to some of the councils most powerful committees, the racialised strategy under development discriminates against white people, including those from minority groups classified as ‘White Other’ and other ethnic groups. This is a prescription for division.
There is no provision for over-sight from accountable bodies or from the general public for the training which is being proposed. As shown in the literature from which the programme has been designed, this training has been devised to condition children to accept Critical Race Theory beliefs, including the idea that all white people are immoral oppressors and that all non-white people are permanently victimised by them. It is a revolutionary, political view because if racism is imputed to all aspect of public institutions and activities, then wholesale, revolutionary change becomes the logical solution.
While teachers, as individuals in a democratic society, must be free to hold whatever views they wish, in their public role as educators, they should adhere to impartiality and not promote their particular political outlooks and values as uncontested norms. It is our view that Critical Race Theory is a doctrine that re-introduces racial thought, and that is a prerequisite for racist social practices. The children of Brighton will be taught to stereotype and judge others on the basis of their skin colour. We believe that this is likely to contribute to increased racial tension, promote inter-ethnic disharmony, and damage community cohesion.
It concerns us that a public authority has deliberately chosen to follow this pathway. We ask you to consider the implications of this proposed programme and to consider what steps could be required of the council to re-commit to a dogma-free education in which discussion on ‘race’ do not delegitimise or marginalise majority accepted liberal-universal principles.
Alka Sehgal Cuthbert (coordinator at Don’t Divide Us)
Note 1. From https://www.beem.org.uk/Event/140031
‘With the many competing pressures in schools, and the discomfort for many with issues of race and racism, anti-racist work can be marginalised/ sabotaged. It is important to recognise that some staff/teachers/governors will be reluctant to acknowledge and participate in anti-racist work. This can lead to conflict and backlash that thwarts efforts for progress. It is advised that the program aims to initially engage with staff/teachers/governors that support the work and any mandatory engagement comes further down the line.’
(p218 Brighton & Hove Anti-Racist Schools Strategy)