HS2 Ltd have signed a £280,000 contract to ‘educate’ children in primary schools as to the benefits of the HS2 project, with Key Stage 2 pupils are being encouraged to make a ‘Zoom Train’ from cardboard and straws, powered by a balloon. This follows on from a programme in secondary schools along the route of HS2, which encouraged pupils to look at possible routes for ‘Zoom Rail’ from London to Birmingham.
Whilst the pack contains the disclaimer “The materials in this pack are for educational purposes only and are not intended to be a representation of any particular project”, it is exceptionally clear that it represents HS2, with several references to HS2 sources and the entirety of the documents are produced in HS2 Ltds format, with the ‘Zoom Train’ containing HS2s’ logo and ‘engine from growth’ slogan. There are no references to any sources which provide a negative view of HS2.
The tender document for the ‘Primary School Engagement Programme’, which was awarded at a cost of £280,000, £8,000 above the stated maximum cost of the project, states:
“The Education Programme is an integral element of HS2 Ltd’s broader approach to creating skills and employment opportunities. It aims to educate and inform children, young adults, and their families about HS2 and the employment and training opportunities it will create and support, prioritising schools closest to the line of route, stations and depots, with a focus on schools that are in more deprived areas and score below average for educational attainment.”
Joe Rukin, Stop HS2 Campaign Manager responded:
“Just when we thought HS2 Ltd couldn’t sink any lower, we find they are spending over a quarter of a million on targeting primary school children along the route of HS2 for brainwashing.”
“The concept of state-sponsored propaganda, which is tailored so children in communities impacted by HS2 must come to the conclusion HS2 is a brilliant idea, is truly Orwellian.”
Sally Kinkaid, Divisional Secretary of Wakefield & District NUT (in a personal capacity), one of the areas where the primary school programme is being pushed, said:
“This stuff going into schools is just complete propaganda. We know how busy teachers are, so when someone gives them a lesson plan, a lot will take it, but this is blatant marketing. If schools are going to use this, I would very much encourage them to invite campaigners against the project to put their case, so there is a balance of views, which is an essential part of the learning process.”
Jonathan Pile, a spokesman for Yorkshire against HS2, said
“Many teachers in the region were furious that the company had decided to target schools this way. If this wasn’t so sinister and unacceptable it would be funny, but to the hundreds of families facing enforced relocation by HS2, and the thousands being financially blighted and facing years of noise and construction pollution, it is anything but a joke.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said,
“Reading through the information presented to students and teachers, there are some bizarre assumptions in it.”
“For example, if you were to believe the information packs, there are no advantages to building stations along the route, only in London and Birmingham, the route cards only give disadvantages for building stations at Milton Keynes, Bicester and Warwick. Only journey times from city centres are considered not overall journey times.”
“It should be remembered that all HS2’s money comes from the Government. These resources are not being paid for by other companies, they are being paid for by taxpayer’s money. And when these students become earners, it is their taxes which will be paying for HS2.”
Homepage for HS2 schools project: http://www.plotr.co.uk/educator-zone/resources-from-employers/hs2-for-teachers/