"No teacher lambasted students with their opinions: this was student-run, student-led, student-orientated"

Posted on: 30 Jun 2016
Posted by: Richard Dain

Responding to a comment in TES, Richard Dain, senior deputy head at Godolphin School in Salisbury says it was the school's responsibility to allow its pupils to 'debate and explore' the politics of the EU referendum.

This comment is in response to an opinion in TES by Joe Nutt, who said "every teacher who thought it was important that their pupils were engaged in the Brexit debate, and organised special events beforehand, should be hanging their head in shame."

Has Mr Nutt realised how absurdly contradictory his article in the TES is? On the one hand, he condemns schools for organising pre-referendum events for the students to engage in the ideas and debates around the topic of the EU referendum, but then, paradoxically, states "children have a right to find their own way with the help of objective, knowledgeable, skilled teachers."

At Godolphin School, led by pupils from the lower sixth, the students were invited to post their thoughts and opinions on a wall for others to consider; then, in a pre-election assembly, two girls, having first clarified what the EU actually is, expounded on the ideas of both the leave and remain campaigns. No teacher lambasted students with their opinions: this was student-run, student-led, student-orientated.

My year 9 class was eager to debate and explore the topic and to deny them this opportunity on what will probably be a once in a lifetime event, that would have been irresponsible.

To deny students the chance to explore, research debate and write about their desires for the political future of the nation, would be tantamount to saying that the young should not debate adult issues, that their voice does not matter. It does matter because they matter.

No wonder society has lamented in the past the lack of a turnout at elections by those in their twenties if Mr Nutt thinks teachers should ban politics from the classroom. The one who should hang his head in shame is him.

Richard Dain

About Richard Dain

Richard Dain is senior deputy head of Godolphin School, a day and boarding girls' school in Salisbury.