Excited by stories of the Second World War during school classes, Steven Cheek did what generations of young boys have done before him. Making an imaginary gun with his fingers, the nine-year-old pointed it at a classmate and said: ‘We’ve got to shoot the German army.’ Moments later he found himself in front of the deputy head, who accused him of racism because his ‘victim’ had been a Polish boy. He was made to stand in front of the class and make an apology while his mother, Jane Hennessey, was called in by the head of Purford Green Junior School in Harlow, Essex. She was informed that a permanent record of her son’s misconduct would be placed on file. Miss Hennessey yesterday accused the school of overreacting. ‘Steven has always wanted to join the Army when he grows up,’ she said. ‘That’s his burning ambition and he loved learning about the war in class. ‘In the week leading up to what happened, the school had been telling the children about the history of the war and he had come home every night talking about it. ‘He’s not a racist. He’s only nine years old and he didn’t single out the Polish boy, who is one of his good friends. This just happened to be who he was playing with. The deputy head shouted at Steven and said, “That’s racism”, which is ridiculous because Steven has a Polish aunt and they were on our side during the war. ‘He didn’t understand what he had done wrong. He was just playing a game like kids always do. He came home after being told off and said, “Mum, what’s racism?” The school has overreacted and been very heavy-handed. They could have quietly told him off instead of turning it into a big issue.’
Miss Hennessey, 37, who lives in Harlow with Steven’s father Darren Cheek, 39, an electrician, said her son got carried away during a class where the war was being discussed. He had never been in trouble before and had been bullied by other pupils since having to make the public apology. My main concern is that this will stay on his record and count against him when he goes to secondary school.’ Miss Hennessey added: ‘Other teachers have told me that they think he has been harshly treated. Everything was blown completely out of proportion. ‘This young Polish child had only started at the school in September and I thought he and Steven got along well. ‘He speaks perfect English. I don’t think Steven even really knew or understood he was Polish and from another country. Children don’t see differences between people like adults do.’
Nick Seaton, of the Campaign for Real Education pressure group, accused the school of ‘absurd political correctness’. He said: ‘It’s a shame that teachers these days all too often fail to crack down on real problems like bullying but overreact to a child with a healthy imagination. Boys will be boys and what the teacher should have done was ask Steven not to play in the classroom, instead of sending him to the deputy head who then humiliated him in front of his class.’
The school, which has around 175 boys and girls aged between four and 11 and was rated ‘good’ in its last Ofsted report, yesterday claimed Steven’s class had been learning about space, not the war, when he was reprimanded and denied he had been accused of racism. Headmistress Viv Perri said: ‘When a pupil uses inappropriate language or terms that could be offensive, we have a responsibility to explain to them why their behaviour is wrong. ‘We want to give all our pupils the best possible start in life which can mean educating them about knowing right from wrong. ‘The incident in question involved a short conversation with a pupil to explain the inappropriateness of his comments and then a meeting with the parent to explain the context.’
It was the Germans’ invasion of Poland in 1939 which led Britain and its Allies to declare war and Russia to take control of the east of the country after signing a pact with the Nazis. More than 3million Poles died during the Second World War – around 17 per cent of the population. During the war, the Nazi government set up seven extermination camps in Poland, the most infamous being Auschwitz-Birkenau where up to 3million died, mainly Jews. Poland became a Communist state after 1945 under the control of the USSR and did not embrace democracy until 1989.
 ANDY WHELAN, School raps lad for ‘racist’ game, The Sun, 25 September 2009
 JONAH GOLDBERG, Oh Jeez, National Review, September 24, 2009 7:37 PM