I have been writing for just under a year and I started by writing a regular blog about my local football team. Late in 2022, I had my first opinion-based piece published in the Daily Sceptic on the effect of lockdowns on schoolchildren and have continued to publish in a range of conservative outlets, including an article on the modern use of words in the European Conservative. I have also published on issues affecting young people such as disposable vapes in Country Squire Magazine and bus crimes. My grandfather, who helps to edit my articles, told me I would have to be thick-skinned as people would attack me and as a precaution paid my subscription to the Free Speech Union. Other than a few keyboard warriors claiming that I do not exist, I have had few problems.
However, recently, I am having a little problem at my school. While many of my teachers do support me, opposition is coming from some teachers who are objecting to my opinions. I am the only budding journalist with publications in the school and I naïvely expected them all to support me, even if they do not all agree with me.
The careers advisor pulled me out of class one day, causing me to miss half a lesson, and took me into her office. On that day, I had published a piece on gender ideologies in Country Squire Magazine which many thought was a good article. I thought she wanted to discuss the opportunity I had been offered to write reports for the local women’s football team, a potential break into sports journalism. Instead, she said that my recent article was controversial. Apparently, I should not be writing about this because it will make people, possibly the ones at the local football team, refuse to work with me. It is possibly no coincidence that I heard no more from the women’s football team.
I am learning that some people may only work with you if you have a Left-wing opinion, and life will be easier if you do. This may be true but surely it is not right. We live in a country where we allegedly have freedom of speech, whether coming from the Right or Left. It seems that not everyone accepts that. If people I was going to work with had a different opinion from mine, I would not care; they should not care about mine. However, I thought that my meeting with the career teacher was the end of the matter. I also resolved simply to carry on regardless.
I wrote several more articles and I regularly send them to my teachers. I like sharing my success and believed that my teachers would share in that success. However, I received an email responding to an article, in which it was said I should listen to the advice of the careers advisor. I was informed that a digital footprint can be a curse as well as a blessing. The same teacher congratulated me for one of my less opinion-based articles and said that I should stick to writing about those topics because I will do better in life. Again, I resolved to carry on regardless.
Walking into school one day I met a teacher standing near the entrance and he asked me to talk to him. He agrees with me on the topics I write about, and he is one of my preferred teachers, but he said that he has to check who I am sending my articles to and remove some of them from my email distribution list because I am ‘upsetting’ some teachers and some are complaining that I should not be writing about the topics I choose to write about. It seems that there may be an issue over freedom of speech in my school.
Beyond these issues there is the relentless indoctrination about issues such as climate change; why people have far-Right extreme views (never far-Left); and extremism and terrorism (again, excluding far Left). I believe the teachers are not to blame for this; these are aspects of the curriculum that are being pushed by the Government.
Each Friday at school we participate in VotesforSchools, where the Government gives us a question to discuss. Recently, the question was: “Are far Right views persuasive to young people?” These ‘far Right’ views are not defined but, presumably, include questioning gender ideology, climate change or the Covid narrative. There has not been a follow-up question about far Left views despite their influence lately.
I have already written about how we were learning about the ‘dangers’ of climate change. In my French lessons, at the start of every half term, we have a new script to study. The first few were on school life, what instruments and sports we like to play, and describing our school. But, randomly, after Christmas we were learning about climate change, in French, which is absurd. We went from learning about our life to the ‘worries’ of climate change. We have returned to learning about what we want to do in the future but the fact that climate change is featured in French lessons at all is evidence of how it is influencing the whole curriculum. If only it stopped there.
In PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic education), we moved from learning about drugs and now we are learning about terrorism, extremism and conspiracy theories. However, extremism and conspiracy views seem exclusively to be far Right; none of them are far Left. Therefore, we are looking at conspiracies such as ‘9/11 was faked and an inside job’, ‘we never landed on the moon’ and ‘secret societies control the world’. According to my school, they are teaching this to “make us aware of all forms of terrorism – far Right as well as Islamist extremism”.
It seems that schools may have issues with people who have Right-wing views and consider that they are dangerous people. At least, that is what we are being encouraged to believe.