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The document, titled ‘Birth to 5 Matters from the Early Years Coalition’, was drawn up by a group of trade union and charity figures. These included a representative from the National Education Union, Britain’s main teaching union.
The report does not reflect current Government advice and is being presented as an alternative to upcoming official Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) guidance, which is due later this year.
It urged education focused on “white privilege, systemic racism and how racism affects children and families”.
This should combat “the widespread notion that ‘children do not see race’ and are colour blind to difference”.
If implemented the recommendation would mark a major departure from current official guidelines which say children must “know some similarities and differences between different religious and cultural communities in this country”.
A new report urges nurseries to combat “white privilege”
“Talking about race is a first step in countering racism”
The 128-page document comments: “Talking about race is a first step in countering racism.
“It is a mistaken assumption that treating all people in the same way and ignoring differences in race is a sufficient response to racism.
“This approach simply allows the continuation of bias in society which disadvantages people from black and minoritised groups.
“Instead of a colour-blind approach to race, more proactive anti-racism is needed.
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A Tory MP labelled the report “destructive to the welfare of children”
“Practitioner training is an important step toward opening dialogue and developing understanding about white privilege, systemic racism, and how racism affects children and families in early years settings.”
Earlier this week a controversial review set up by 10 Downing Street concluded Britain is not an institutionally racist society.
The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities said: “We no longer see a Britain where the system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities.”
Instead it emphasised other factors like socio-economic background, class and family structure to explain life outcomes.
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“When adults are silent about race, children’s racial prejudice can be maintained”
The new report argues conversations should take place with young children about race.
It argues: “It is also time to challenge the widespread notion that ‘children do not see race’ and are colour blind to difference.
“When adults are silent about race, children’s racial prejudice and misconceptions can be maintained or reinforced.
“Encouraging dialogue and conversation about difference can evoke children’s strong sense of fairness and break down false assumptions about everyone being able to succeed on their merits, so that children recognise racist behaviours and develop anti-racist views.”
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However the document was sharply attacked by critics who argue it will harm child welfare and entrench divisions.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph Robert Halfon, Tory MP and Education Select Committee chair, commented: “This is just unacceptable.
“This dogma and doctrine is totally out of place. We have all got to combat racism but this is the absolute wrong way to go about it, and insults white working-class people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“The whole purpose of children learning is to learn, not for some kind of political Soviet indoctrination session.”
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Conservative MP Sir John Hayes made similar points arguing: “Most parents would be horrified by the idea that their toddlers are going to be lectured about how privileged or underprivileged they were depending on their race.
“If you tell some children they are privileged you have to by definition tell some others that they are not, that they are somehow disadvantaged or underprivileged.
“It is really destructive to the welfare of children.”