Parents demand right to view lesson plans over 'indoctrination' fears

Parents demand legal right to view school lesson plans after removing daughter from London secondary over fears she was being ‘indoctrinated’ by classes on white privilege and gender

  • Parents at a London school are battling to see ‘secret’ lessons on white privilege
  • Mother Clare Page was stunned at how her child started speaking about race 
  • Haberdashers’ Hatcham College refused to show her a copy of the lesson plans

A mother who is pulling her daughter out of a London school is battling to see lesson plans, after being shocked about how their child spoke about white privilege and gender.

The school denied parent Clare Page’s request to view some of the materials used in lessons, saying they were ‘commercially sensitive’.

Mrs Page said she fears her child is being ‘indoctrinated’ and that white pupils are being told they are ‘privileged simply because of their skin colour’.

Over the past three years she and her husband have become increasingly concerned about the Ofsted-rated ‘good’ Haberdashers’ Hatcham College in southeast London.

The state secondary school used to be known as Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College, but dropped the name of a 17th-century benefactor, Robert Aske, because of his links to the slave trade. 

Most of its 1400 pupils are black or from an ethnic minority, while about 17 per cent are white.

Currently parents are allowed to ask to see a lesson plan but the school is not legally obliged to provide it.

Mrs Page has written to the Information Commissioner’s Office about the issue. 

A parent of a pupil at Haberdashers’ Hatcham College (pictured) in London, is fighting to see ‘secret’ lesson plans after the school told her she could not see them. Clare Page believes the school is indoctrinating pupils  about white privilege

Haberdashers’ Hatcham College (Interim principal Rob Thomas pictured) have denied indoctrinating their pupils but conceded there were some mishaps in their lessons 

‘I am speaking out, because I think this is such an important issue,’ Page told The Times. ‘Parents have a right to know what is being taught to their children, and to expect that opinions and theories will not be presented to them as if they are fact.’

A violent image, called ‘Die’ which pictured white and black people stabbing each other, was shown to 13-year-olds in online art classes to inspire them to make their own posters after the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests.

The pupils created posters that included a girl being shot in the head; a bloodied Black Power fist and slogans such as ACAB (All Cops Are B******s).

After the art class and other similar lessons, Mrs Page told the school she had serious concerns they were ‘politicising children’ with American identity politics.

Some of the pupils’ artwork featured a bloodied Black Power fist (pictured: A large black power fist being held at a protest in 2020)

Another complaint from Mrs Page was that there was a school assembly about ‘white privilege’ and ‘discriminatory systems of power’, where pupils were told that people perpetuated their privilege just by being white.   

Page also told The Times that her daughter ‘had never been referred to by her race’ before 2020.

The school said the imagery in the art class was upsetting and that playing a rap song in which Boris Johnson is called a racist was also inappropriate.

They agreed that the head teacher would oversee school assemblies but it denied that children had been indoctrinated.

The school said: ‘Hatcham College is confident in the PHSE (personal, social, health and economic) education that it provides its students. Many of the issues covered are sensitive and handled appropriately with the students.

‘All our teaching adheres to the secretary of state’s statutory guidance and recommended best practice. We are aware that some parents object to the concept of PHSE and do not believe that issues of sexuality should be taught in schools.

‘The PHSE curriculum was discussed at a parent forum where all parents were supportive of the schools’ approach apart from one. We continually review and revise our PHSE provision to ensure it is right for our school community.’

Rows between parents and schools over areas of the curriculum are becoming more frequent and Baroness Morris of Yardley, a former Labour education secretary, has tabled an amendment to the Schools Bill to give parents a legal right to see all teaching materials.

She said: ‘I want it established that parents have a legal right to see what their child is being taught. This must be resolved.

‘There is a lot of contested information about sex and gender. It is not unreasonable for parents to say to the school: “Let me see what you are going to show my child”. The race issue has also been brought to my attention.’

Paul Conrathe, a solicitor from Sinclairslaw, said: ‘It is unacceptable for schools to hide behind commercial confidentiality in refusing to disclose curriculum resources. There is a dear public interest in parents knowing what their children are taught.’

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