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23rd May, 2022

QUESTION: Should children be taught the national anthem in schools?

Malvern Editorial 13th Jan, 2022

Recently, Andrew Rosindell MP urged the BBC to return to playing the National Anthem on television to increase ‘unity and pride in our nation.’

This was met with support from the Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries MP who could be heard saying “fantastic” and Culture Minister Chris Philp MP who told fellow MPs:

“We fully support the signing of the national anthem and other expressions of patriotism – including the flying of the Union Jack.”

Now an award-winning teacher who is also the founder of Conservative Friends of Education, Mr Stephen James is calling for children to be taught the national anthem in schools.

Mr James says the start of his journey into teaching led him to this conclusion. Mr James, now a specialist Leader of Education says:

“At the start of my professional career, one event signalled to me that something wasn’t right…

“My graduation ceremony was at Canterbury Cathedral, the home of the Church of England, and after we received our degrees, shook the hand of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Vice-Chancellor – the Anthem was the final item on the programme.

“With over 1200 people in attendance, the Anthem should have been heard in Buckingham Palace. Instead, a lacklustre rendition that Church mice would have difficulty hearing. In fact, I could be heard singing over the Archbishop and I was sitting at the back. Slightly embarrassing when I started belting out the second verse when all around me were silent… but that’s another story.”

Now, as a professional who has worked with children, Mr James says he has directly experienced children’s lack of national anthem knowledge. He says:

“To be fair, some do know it but that is usually as a result of a football-loving family… So, I made it my mission to remedy this as children passed through my class and I am proud to say that all the children who had me as a teacher could recite the National Anthem with a flair that would bring a tear to the eye of Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors.”

The patriotic teacher proposes Gareth Malone OBE is appointed as Choirmaster General to oversee the project. Mr Malone is the English choirmaster and broadcaster who readers might remember from his television appearances on programmes such as The Choir, which focuses on singing and introducing choral music to new participants.

Mr James says schools could then devote time during assemblies, music lessons and English lessons (under the guise of reciting poetry) into learning the national anthem. He suggests the curriculum should be structured as below:

  • EYFS learn the first verse.
  • KS1 learn the first and second,
  • KS2 learn the first, second and third.
  • KS3 learn the first, second, third and fourth.
  • KS4 learn all five.

What do you think? Would you be keen for your children to learn the national anthem at school? Would it be a nice thing to introduce this year in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year? Or do you think it’s too patriotic? Let us know your thoughts.




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