UK Government say they will ‘work with’ Welsh Government on Queen book for every school child
The UK Government have said that they will work with the Welsh Government to ensure that they are happy with a book on the history of the Queen’s reign which they plan to distribute to every school child in Wales.
The Welsh Government had previously said that the decision on distributing a ‘patriotic’ history book in Wales will be up to Education Minister Jeremy Miles – not the UK Government.
The book contract awarded to DK books by the UK Government notes that 211,000 copies of a dual language version of the book will be sent to pupils in 1,290 schools and other educational establishments in Wales.
“We are not contributing to the cost of these books,” the Welsh Government had told Nation.Cymru. “As Education is devolved in Wales, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language will make a decision on whether the book will be circulated to Welsh Schools once he has seen the final version.”
The UK Government have now responded to criticism of the £12m spend on the books by saying that they will ask for feedback from the governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on drafts of the book.
A Government spokesperson said: “The commemorative book for the Queen’s Jubilee is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth over the last 70 years.
“The ambition for the book is to be inclusive and speak to all children across the UK and we have been working with the publisher and the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, for feedback on drafts of the book.
“It will not be a textbook for use in classes, but a chance to engage children in historic events during the Queen’s reign.”
Last week Brent Central MP Dawn Butler criticised the book, saying said that although she had a “huge amount of respect” for the Queen, the book would risk her becoming embroiled in political debate.
In a letter to Boris Johnson, she said: “At a time when the Department for Education has failed to ensure all schools have adequate ventilation, £12 million would go a long way to improving the situation and providing a bulwark against further spread of Covid-19 as infection rates remain high among young people.
“It is very rare for democratic states to send children commemorative books about their heads of state, and I hope the Government will reconsider this proposal: avoiding political controversy for the monarchy and putting the £12 million of public funds to better use.
“An alternative and more modern solution might be to make the proposed book an online resource.”
The contract agreed with published DK Books includes a clause that the books must be delivered to at least 99.5% of schools in Wales by 11 July 2022.
The book contract says that the supplier will provide a book “written with the aim of being inclusive, patriotic and ‘speaking to all children’ with regard to all regions of the UK”.
“The Jubilee itself will help communicate a narrative about modern Britain and its connections with the rest of the world, through local, community driven events,
including those led by schools, alongside national and Commonwealth events,” the contract says.
“The book will be a key part of this strategic aim, by ensuring that pupils, families, and teachers develop a collective understanding of the Queen’s reign, and by providing children with an appropriate legacy through personal ownership of this high-quality book.”
It adds: “The book shall be inclusive and patriotic, capturing a spirit akin to the London 2012 Olympics.”
The book is set to cost £12 million to produce with around 4.5 million copies sent to schoolchildren in the UK. However, the individual costs of producing a version for Wales and its distribution has been redacted from the document.
A Gaelic language version of the book will also be produced but will not be dual language.
The Queen became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne, on 6 February this year.
Celebrations will culminate in a four day UK bank holiday weekend from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th June.
A Platinum Jubilee Celebration on 12th -15th May will also see over 500 horses and 1,000 performers create a 90-minute piece of arena theatre.
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