School apologises after pupils handed worksheet suggesting Polish migrants 'stealing' UK jobs

Posted on: 2018-09-28 07:15:00

A secondary school has apologised after a worksheet handed to pupils featured the suggestion UK jobs were being “stolen” by EU workers.

Year 8 Geography students at Walthamstow Academy in north east London were handed a booklet earlier this month titled “essential knowledge”, in which a section about migration implied Polish migrants came to Britain for “free healthcare” and “better schools”.

Listing “problems” caused by Polish immigration, the document stated “pressures on the NHS”, “many languages” in schools, "informal work" meaning the government "does not receive tax” and “unemployment for locals”.

The information on the worksheet is at odds with a government-commissioned study last week, which found that EU migrants pay far more to the public purse on average than British-born residents - at £2,300 more each year in net terms per person.

The research by Oxford Economics found that over their lifetimes, they pay in £78,000 more than they take out in public services and benefits - while the average UK citizen’s net lifetime contribution is zero.

Walthamstow Academy, which has a significant proportion of Polish students, was accused of distributing "Brexit propaganda" and "tapping into prejudices that are not factual" at the risk of "indoctrinating" pupils.

One Polish mother, whose 12-year-old daughter was given the document, said: "I found it deeply shocking and offensive that they targeted only one nation while talking about immigration.

"It is really disturbing that they are giving children biased information that isn’t based on any statistics."

After receiving a number of complaints, the head teacher at the school apologised “wholeheartedly” for the offence caused and acknowledged that parts of the worksheet were “inaccurate and insensitive”.

Nicholas Hatton, founder of the3million, a grassroots organisation representing EU citizens in the UK, told The Independent it was "really shocking" that the material had been distributed to pupils in the first place, describing it as a "dangerous document".

"Whoever has written this, is tapping into prejudice that are not factual. These arguments have already been discredited by academic reviews," he said.

“There’s no mention of freedom of movement. It’s imbalanced and has clearly been written by someone who doesn’t understand the fluidity of the job market.

“It’s a really dangerous document. Since the referendum, hate crime has been on the rise - especially against eastern Europeans. These myths about immigration have got no place in a school. It risks indoctrinating children. It’s disgusting.

“This serves as Brexit propaganda and in no case should it be allowed in any school.”

Responding to an email from a mother stating that she feared her daughter would be “stigmatised” as a result of the document, Emma Skae, the principal of the school, said: “I am truly sorry that you have been offended by what you have read.

“I can totally understand why this has caused you offence and I apologise wholeheartedly for that. I am upset about it as well.

“The context in which the information is given in the two-page [document] is regrettably not clear and some of the examples used are inaccurate and insensitive and do not reflect how we, as a school community, think and act."

Ms Skae said however that it was "important that students are able to understand that there are critics of immigration" and that "only by doing can students get a full understanding of the sensitivity of the subject".

She said the knowledge booklet had already been re-written to be "more explicit in the credence we give to the views argued by some".

May Bulman, Social Affairs Correspondent

Source: Independent

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