IEA Conversations

School vs Parents: Who should have the final say?

June 20, 2019

The No Outsiders programme was created in 2014 by Andrew Moffat, the assistant headteacher at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham. The programme aims to teach children about the characteristics protected by the Equality Act - such as sexual orientation and religion. Books used in the programme include stories about a dog that doesn't feel like it fits in, two male penguins that raise a chick together and a boy who likes to dress up like a mermaid.

But some parents at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham say lessons featuring books depicting same-sex relationships are not age-appropriate.  The lessons have created a furious debate, involving court injunctions and many pages of opinion columns. 

The debate ultimately raises the big question about to what extent societies need to share the same values, and how those values are communicated to the next generation. Does a cohesive society have to uphold a shared and single version of the Good? 

Or is okay for views on this topic to diverge? Should there be many different schools teaching different perspectives? Is it right for a state education system to impose a particular set of moral values on everyone, even if we are sympathetic to them? To what extent should the state shape and determine attitudes and feelings, and thought?

Joining the IEA's digital manager Darren Grimes to discuss is Joanna Williams, associate editor at spiked and Benjamin Butterworth, Weekend Editor and reporter for the i newspaper