Professor Andrew Tettenborn, a member of the Free Speech Union’s Legal Advisory Council, has written to the Rt Hon Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, to respond to his Government’s consultation about its Race Equality Action Plan, an anti-racist initiative inspired, in part, by the protests that followed the death of George Floyd last year.
Professor Tettenborn has a number of concerns. For instance, he makes the following two points about the proposal to include mandatory anti-racism teaching in Welsh schools:
(i) Matters such as the pervasive existence of structural or systemic racism, the equal validity of ‘lived experience’ when set alongside other forms of knowledge, such as that based on empirical data, and the existence of ‘white privilege’, are extremely controversial and if taught as incontrovertible fact would require teachers to take a side in subjects of ongoing legitimate public debate. No child should be taught any of this as incontrovertible fact, but, rather, they should be introduced to these ideas alongside other points of view – such as the views expressed in the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities Report – in a politically balanced way.
(ii) Equally, in line with the aim of the education system to produce confident and articulate children, no child should be sanctioned, punished or disadvantaged for disagreeing with statements of the existence of such matters. For instance, a child should not be made to feel ignorant or morally blind by their teacher or by their classmates if they challenge the concept of ‘white privilege’.
You can read the full text of Prof Tettenborn’s letter below.
UPDATE: Dr April-Louise Pennant, the Race Equality Action Plan development officer, has responded. You can read the full text of her letter below.
The reply from Dr April-Louise Pennant.