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Benenden School head teacher hits out at 'woke' criticisms


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A Kent head teacher has hit out at adults dismissing young people as 'woke'.

Samantha Price said that teachers should challenge the 'older generation' for using terms including 'cancel culture ' or 'snowflakes'.

Samantha Price will be speaking to the Girls' School Association
Samantha Price will be speaking to the Girls' School Association

The Benenden School head teacher will be making the remarks in a speech today to the Girls' School Association, as this year's president.

In the speech, which was released to KentOnline ahead of Mrs Price's appearance this morning, she says that it is schools' jobs to help teach students how to conduct themselves while campaigning, admitting that sometimes they "don't always approach their protests in the best way".

"Every generation believes that the older generation does not understand them," she added.

"In recent years there have been many references to this generation being ‘woke’ – meant in a derogatory sense – and adults commenting that they feel today’s teenagers are speaking a different language to them and that they can’t say anything without being corrected or ‘called out’ by these politically correct, or ‘woke’, children.

"To a certain extent, as parents and school leaders, we can probably all relate to this in some way or other, but I am getting a little weary of hearing the older generation say, ‘You can’t say anything anymore’.

"The fact is that times have changed and we simply need to keep up with them. It would be unforgivable for the older generation to close its mind to new ideas, to retreat to ‘the good old days’ and dismiss the energetic changes of this generation as something to be referred to in derogatory tones and sighs.

“I would challenge us, the teachers in our staff rooms and the parents of the students in our schools to think hard about whether being ‘woke’ is something to be criticised for?”

Describing the definition of 'woke' as "someone who has woken up to issues of social injustice", Mrs Price said that the younger generation were "clearly in the right".

"Those who criticise what they are calling for (although not perhaps how they always go about it) are wrong," she added.

"As educators, it is our duty to help them develop their voice, to help them embrace who they are and to support them to fight for what they believe in with an informed, educated voice that actively listens to the same extent as it speaks.”

Mrs Price is the head teacher at Benenden School
Mrs Price is the head teacher at Benenden School

As part of the speech, Mrs Price called for relationships and sex education to be a compulsory part of teacher training, as well as defending the "demonised" independent schools sector.

A year ago, Mrs Price issued an apology after accepting pupils had become upset at a word she used in a Black History Month assembly.

She said her remark was intended to show how language had changed, but 'apologised unreservedly' for causing offence to students.

News from our universities, local primary and secondary schools including Ofsted inspections and league tables can be found here.

Read more: All the latest news from Tenterden

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