A primary school in Nottingham has hit back after an MP raised concerns over pupils being told to write a letter condemning Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Pictures of Year 6 pupils at Welbeck Primary School in the Meadows were posted on Twitter, prompting concern from a Nottinghamshire MP.
They depicted children in front of a whiteboard, on which a words such as ‘lies’, ‘selfish’ and ‘mistrust’ were used to describe the Prime Minister, who has been at the centre of the ongoing investigations into a number of parties at Downing Street.
The children were then said to have written a letter, addressed to Nottingham South’s Labour MP, Lilian Greenwood, expressing the they feel “infuriated and enraged” and that Mr Johnson should resign.
Brendan Clarke-Smith, who represents Bassetlaw for the Conservatives, said he was “gobsmacked” when he saw the tweet from the school’s Twitter account.
He told Nottinghamshire Live: “It looks like they have done some sort of lesson about the PM breaking rules.
“It is very, overtly political and it is very, very one-sided and the letters do not look like they have been written by 10-year-olds. [The tweet] has been swiftly deleted.
“I was a headteacher and I was gobsmacked. I’ve even taught politics. It crosses several lines in the profession. Doing a class debate on it is fine, but I have never seen it framed like that before and directed in that sort of way.
“It uses it to promote certain causes. It is an unusual thing for a school to do. In your spare time people are entitled to their opinions but it seems [the headteacher] has taken it to school with her.”
The tweet has since been deleted along with the school’s Twitter account.
This, headteacher Rebecca Gittins says, was because it had received a number of “abusive” responses.
Lilian Greenwood says she is not aware of any complaints from parents or staff members, despite reports in national media outlets stating parents had been outraged.
She said: “Welbeck Primary School is an outstanding school that makes sure children have a fantastic experience and opportunities to engage with their MP and they should be encouraged to do so.
“I’m not aware of any parents or staff who have raised their concerns. If Brendan Clarke-Smith is he should raise it in the correct way.”
Nottinghamshire Live approached the school, and Nottingham City Council as the responsible authority, for comment.
Both the headteacher and the leader of the council replied.
Rebecca Gittins, the headteacher, said: “As part of a democracy topic, the Year Six class has been looking closely at national politics, our leaders and decision-makers, while discussing fact and opinions.
“There is no ‘teaching’ of politics. We explain processes and structure, with the children encouraged to express their thoughts.
“Year Six pupils watched recent coverage on Newsround about Downing Street and some of them asked to write to their local MP to share their views. This lesson was linked to the English curriculum where children constructed letters using their skills to form arguments, assess evidence and develop their critical thinking.
“A tweet displaying the work received five abusive responses, which was really disappointing. The decision was quickly taken to remove it before these were seen by the pupils.”
And councillor David Mellen, the leader of the Labour-run city council who also represents the Dales ward, added: “Learning about democracy, our political leaders and the way the country is governed is a vital part of any pupil’s knowledge, and has been taught, discussed and debated in schools across the country for decades.
“It remains a key part of the curriculum and, together with the councils’ work through our Primary Parliament, helps to provide children with an appropriate understanding of the world they live in. We are supportive of Welbeck Primary’s work in this area and would never discourage young people from engaging with local representatives and politicians.
“Learning to write in a variety of ways is also part of the curriculum and our schools strive to give children meaningful opportunities to exercise those styles.”
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