Bridget Phillipson says ministers should not micromanage the books pupils read in classrooms

Earlier this month, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said that children were not 'snowflakes' and should be allowed to read books featuring racial slurs.

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Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson has said ministers should not micromanage the books pupils read in classrooms.

Speaking to the NAHT school leaders’ annual conference in Telford, she said there was an “irony” that the Government is seeking to take politics out of the classroom but simultaneously telling teachers what books to teach.

“I think we need a school curriculum that inspires and supports every young person… I think children should expect to see their lives, their communities, their experiences reflected in that,” she said.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi.

“I think it is not for secretaries of state to dictate which books should or shouldn’t be taught within a school. I think you all have expertise and professionalism that allows you to deliver that.”

Speaking to the press, she said that she did not think “it’s the role of the secretary of state to micromanage which books teachers choose to teach within the classroom” and that the Government’s “attention will be better focused on what’s within their immediate control, such as delivering a proper children’s recovery plan that allows all of our children to make up for that lost learning”.

Earlier today, Phillipson told GB News Richard Holden was wrong to ask officers to re-examine the gathering, as she insisted no rules were broken.
Earlier today, Phillipson told GB News Richard Holden was wrong to ask officers to re-examine the gathering, as she insisted no rules were broken.

“Too often ministers seem fixated on smaller issues that… don’t reflect the concerns of most parents,” she said.

“I think there’s a certain irony that secretaries of state say they want to keep politics out of the classroom and then seem to micromanage the books that teachers will be using in that way.”

She added that this was not the primary role of the Education Secretary.

Earlier today, Phillipson told GB News Richard Holden was wrong to ask officers to re-examine the gathering, as she insisted no rules were broken.

The Labour leader has said there is "no comparison” between the gathering in the Durham constituency office of local MP Mary Foy last year and the rule-breaking in Downing Street that has seen Boris Johnson fined by police.

Joining Anne Diamond and Stephen Dixon on Breakfast with Stephen and Anne, Phillipson said: "I think there is no comparison between the two.

"The police have looked into the matter, there’s no case to answer, no rules were broken.

"I can see why Tory MPs ahead of the local elections want to spend their time seeking to drag us all into the gutter and make out that we’re all the same.

"But really, you look at the number of fines that have been issued at Downing Street. The fact that the Prime Minister lied to the British people, that he’s lied to Parliament, we’ve got the only Prime Minister in modern times that’s broken the law and still in office.

"I understand why they’re getting so desperate around this.