Chulmleigh Community College accused of being ‘propaganda tool’ for Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Chulmleigh Community College with executive headteacher Michael John

Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Chulmleigh Community College with executive headteacher Michael Johnson. Picture: Tony Gussin - Credit: Archant

Chulmleigh Community College has defended its decision to host Prime Minister Boris Johnson on his General Election campaign trail.

It has been alleged the school was used as a 'propaganda tool' for the Conservatives by hosting Mr Johnson during an active election.

The Prime Minister and his election 'battle bus' visited the school to be met by staff and all the students on November 28.

But executive headteacher Michael Johnson has defended the decision, saying nothing would have been gained by refusing the visit from a serving prime minister.

On his visit, the PM personally greeted many, joined a science class and had a private meeting with the school senior management team.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit Chulmleigh Community College pictured with students whil

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit Chulmleigh Community College pictured with students while on the General Election campaign trail. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire - Credit: PA

In a letter to the school's senior team, which was shared with the Gazette, Jan Stapley from Wembworthy said he would be investigating the legality of what happened.


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In his letter, he said: "I was quite frankly disgusted how the school was used as a tool for the wheels of power especially as the whole reason for school is to learn to question and think critically.

"I am truly gobsmacked at the timing of the visit and cannot understand where your impartiality comes into play. Other public organisations have to adhere to very strict guidelines, why do you not? Using children like this is truly maddening and you should consider what your practices should be in the future."

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Chulmleigh Academy Trust is a charitable company and Mr Stapley said Charity Commission guidelines showed charities should not support a political party of candidate and should remain independent and balanced.

He said charities should not 'support any one political party', adding: "So how does entertaining and pushing out the red carpet to the current Prime Minister as well as disrupting students in their day to day operation at the school not constitute this?"

But in a reply to Mr Stapley, headteacher Mr Johnson said: "The Prime Minister sets the national; agenda and less than nothing would be achieved if I had said 'no' to a request from the person who runs the country to visit our small rural school and talk to senior staff about our challenges and ambitions.

"We made a big point of offering all our pupils the chance to get within touching distance of a serving prime minister and scores got the opportunity to shake his hand. I guess we would have received a letter of complaint if we had refused his visit."

Mr Johnson pointed out the school had also welcomed Liberal Democrat candidate and former Chulmleigh student Alex White for a visit in the past week too.

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