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The Battle at Batley Grammar: Is there a Culture War in Schools?

A teacher is in hiding after teaching an RE class in which were shown images of Mohammed. Pupils were asked to not attend the school and are being taught remotely and a demonstration is taking place in the street outside the school. Some pupils have set up a petition calling for the teacher’s reinstatement, whilst his headteacher has apologised for the content of the lesson.

How can people deny there is a culture war when events like this seem to becoming more common place. Who should decide what is taught and how? Parents? Pupils? Politicians? Teachers? And who carries the can when things go wrong?

In this discussion we look at Owen Jones’ comments about flags and whether the tories are trying to distract people away from the real issues of the day through culture war rhetoric and we look at the flag that flies over at Pimlico Academy, asking why some pupils saw fit to bring it down and burn it.

We look at whether Harry Potter books should be in school libraries and how many genders should teachers teach there are? And what of RE teachers, how to deal with the changing ideas of religion and the challenges of a multi-faith and no-faith society.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith has said that that “It’s going to be very difficult for teachers to teach.” But is he a hypocrite? On what side do Conservatives sit in the Culture Wars?

In 1991 the sociologist James Davison Hunter wrote the book ‘Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America’ about how progressives and conservatives continue to argue but this argument is no longer about class war but, being shaped by identity politics, it has meant new and surprising friends and enemies are made…

We ask, whose side are you on?

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