The BNP Threat to Classroom IdeologyEducation has always been the ubiquitous election argument and as Britain heads into the campaigning stage for the most important general election in decades, the topic is high on the agenda of all of the major political players.
Classrooms are havens for diplomatic preaching and human engagement from politicians whose rigid guise often softens and paternalises in the face of a bright and enthusiastic youth.
Speculation has rallied in recent months regarding the safety of British classrooms from extremist political preaching. Last month ministers dismissed calls from the National Union of Teachers (NUT) to place a ban on teachers who were aligned with the right wing British National Party (BNP). An independent inquiry found that such a move would be “disproportionate” despite wide claims that several boroughs boasted school’s under the destructive leadership of BNP members.
It seems that the institutional removal of BNP members (prison officials for example are not allowed to be members of the party) stops at the gates of Britain’s schools and that in the coming weeks as politicians queue up to return to the classroom and preach the party line, among them will be candidates loyal to the racially ambiguous cause of Nick Griffin.
In a revealing investigation, the Guardian went into a variety of schools to record the diverse opinion from the student, teaching and parental body upon the prospects of students being wooed by the tongues of politicians from the appreciated centre to the questionable and queried extreme left and right.
Under a charter laid out by the Citizenship Foundation, a charity which professes to instigate social equality within schools and has received over £1million of government funding to do so, the BNP should be allowed to address any classroom within Britain.
“Unless and until the law decrees any political party to be undemocratic, illegal, or in contravention of human rights law, schools must treat all parties equally,” the guidance presently states.
Ian Morrel, the deputy head of Titus Salt, a school in Bradford which has previously invited political candidates to address politics students, voiced his insecurity with the idea of a BNP candidate addressing the students of Titus salt.
“Fundamentally, what we want to do is to challenge those opinions, and it is about allowing people to tackle extremist views,” he said, stating that if a BNP candidate should address a classroom “It wouldn't be an autonomous school decision. It would have to be a corporate view from the local authority.”
The students of Titus Salt are more starkly opinionated. 13-year old Josh Parkinson explained how he would be unperturbed by the presence of a BNP candidate in his classroom.
“The way I've been brought up is that we need to listen to different people's views, even though we might think some of them are racist. Why shouldn't we listen to them? Personally, I want to know more about politics while I'm young.” He said.
While 16-year old Elisha Lau said that she would be uncomfortable with the idea. “I think it should be up to the students of the school to say if the BNP should be allowed in. I don't think many people would like for them to come in, because nobody agrees with what they say,” she said.
Amanda Brown, assistant secretary of the NUT, stated that many school’s had suggested to her that if there was a question of having to elect a BNP candidate to speak to the school audience in the interests of fairness, then they would not invite any candidates at all.
Under very careful scrutiny, very few British schools have faced charges of inviting racist ideology into their classrooms. However, the very justice driven ideals of British fairness have demonstrated a clear loop hole for potential racist ideology to enter through. We’ve seen how impressionable a desperate electorate can become. Now the danger is how impressionable will an audience of intrigued children be. And to whom.

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