Decision not to distribute Jubilee book to all schools in Wales ‘insult to Queen’ says Andrew RT Davies
The Welsh Government’s decision not to distribute a history book made for the Royal Jubilee to all schools in Wales is an “insult to the Queen,” the leader of the Welsh Conservatives has said.
The UK Government want every school child in Wales to receive a copy of the “patriotic” book, but the Welsh Government has said that the decision will rest with schools on whether they want to opt in to receive it.
Andrew RT Davies slammed as “woke” the Welsh Government’s reasons for not distributing the book, after they revealed that they had asked historian Dr Elin Jones her opinion on whether it was appropriate to distribute it.
Dr Elin Jones, whose own book History Grounded / Hanes yn in Tir is to be distributed to all of Wales’ school children to aid in the teaching of the new national curriculum, had said that the book did not make enough mention of the indigenous languages and cultures of Britain.
In a letter to Andrew RT Davies, Welsh Labour education minister Jeremy Miles said: “Dr Elin Jones provided Welsh Government with an unpaid independent opinion on the content of the book.
“The advice from Dr Jones was that she felt its failure to address the early history of Britain, so as to explain the reasons for the existence of the indigenous languages and cultures of Britain, was a basic flaw in this book.
“This was exacerbated by the lack of reference to – let alone celebration of – these languages and cultures today. Concerns were also raised about the old-fashioned interpretation of English history and the lack of historical awareness.
“Dr Jones also felt the book did not support the Welsh Government’s Welsh language policy and undermines the efforts being made to develop an inclusive approach to culture in Wales.”
But Andrew RT Davies said the Welsh Government policy and reasoning was “an unnecessary insult to the Queen in her Jubilee year”.
He went on: “It’s sad that Labour, weeks before Her Majesty’s 70th Jubilee, have overcomplicated a simple way of sharing the story of her world-beating rule with our children.
“This woke justification won’t land well with the people of Wales who are proud of the UK’s compassionate history and Her Majesty’s leading role in our national story.”
The UK Government said that the aim of the book was to help children understand how the four nations came together as one United Kingdom, and that would include details such as Owain Glyndwr’s rebellion against the English in 1400 to take the title of ‘Prince of Wales’.
It also features the renaming of the Welsh Assembly to the Senedd, and a section on Hywel Dda, noting that he united most of Wales from his kingdom Deheubarth and “brought in laws that focused on fairness and justice”.
A page in the book reads: “During [the Queen’s] reign, the world has changed in so many ways… (this book) will help you understand the amazing life and times of our Queen and the magic of the unique, unshakable bond she shares with the people she serves.”
The UK Government had originally said that they wanted every school child in Wales to receive a copy of the “patriotic” book, which cost £12m to produce, whether they asked for one or not.
The contract awarded to DK books by the UK Government notes that 211,000 copies of a bilingual version of the book will be sent to pupils in 1,290 schools and other educational establishments in Wales.
But the Welsh Government said that education was a “devolved matter” and that they had “been clear that the book should be available in Welsh and English and schools only receive the book on an opt-in basis”.
Created with the help of royal historians, The Queen Elizabeth: A Platinum Jubilee Celebration will allow children to trace the highlights of the Queen’s reign through a story featuring a young girl called Isabella.
She is told all about the Queen and this year’s Jubilee during a visit to her Great Granny Joyce’s house.
Famous quotes from the Queen, along with details about the lives of significant Commonwealth figures such as former South African President Nelson Mandela, are to feature in the book.
Facts on the coronation ceremony, information about notable kings and queens and a timeline of Queen Elizabeth’s life will feature in the book aimed at “celebrating and showcasing the Queen’s incredible living legacy”, according to England’s Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi.
Mr Zahawi said: “Queen Elizabeth II is the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee and Her Majesty’s dignity, commitment and grace continues to inspire people all over the world.
“Millions of children will soon receive their own commemorative Jubilee book, celebrating and showcasing the Queen’s incredible living legacy.
“I hope all our pupils are as excited as I am to read about Her Majesty’s amazing life and the people and events that have shaped history during the last 70 years.”
The book is also part of the National Literacy Trust’s Platinum Jubilee Royal Reading Challenge.
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