1. Introduction and background
Since 2003, the UK government has had a strategy in place to counter the threat to this country and to our interests overseas from international terrorism. The strategy is known as CONTEST and its aim is „to reduce the risk to the UK from international terrorism, so that people can go about their lives freely and with confidence‟.
This strategy for challenging violent extremism has four dimensions; Prepare, Prevent, Protect and Pursue and in June 2008 the Government published guidance to local partners on preventing violent extremism, which stressed the importance of empowering learners to come together, with their families and members of the wider community, to expose and challenge such extremism.
This resource pack has been created to work under the Prevent dimension of the strategy, to reduce the likelihood of young people becoming radicalised and then engaging in any form of violent extremism.
There are five strands to Prevent, one of which is to:
Increase the resilience of communities to violent extremism.
This is mirrored in the OFSTED inspection framework:
Schools are required to be inspected at prescribed intervals and inspectors must report on the contribution made by the school to community cohesion.
In order to further support schools and colleges the Department for Children, Schools and Families published „Learning Together to be Safe‟, a toolkit introduced to schools from autumn 2008, and there is an updated electronic version included in this pack.
The other resources in this pack are intended to support schools and colleges by identifying the key issues raised by the toolkit, linking them to the national curriculum, and then providing lesson plans and associated teaching and learning materials that can be used in the classroom.
The Crown Prosecution Service defines „Violent extremism' as:
‘The demonstration of unacceptable behaviour by using any means or medium to express views which: foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs; seek to provoke others to terrorist acts; foment other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts; or foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.’
Extremism affects individuals and communities and can be a catalyst for alienation and disaffection, potentially leading to violence. There is a need to:
-- empower learners to come together, with their families and the wider community,
- to expose extremism to critical scrutiny and reject violence and cruelty in whatever forms they take and whether it be from animal rights activists,
- ecological protesters,
- Al Qaida-influenced groups,
- Irish republican terrorists,
- racist and fascist organisations or
- far-right extremism groups.
Learners need to be equipped with the knowledge, skills and ability to reflect on and be reflexive about current and historical debates. Schools can do this by giving learners the opportunity to learn about different cultures and faiths and to debate shared values, so as to enable them to become involved in decision- making about important and real issues. It is real people, concerned with real tasks in real places that can make a difference.
So the task facing schools is to:
- raise awareness;
- provide information;
- enable learners to make a positive contribution;
- protect the wellbeing of learners; and help manage risks.
In order to do this there are at least five elements to a whole school approach:
- understanding how to challenge the extremism narratives that can lead to harm;
- understanding how to prevent harm;
- understanding how to support vulnerable individuals;
- increasing the resilience of learners and their communities;
and allowing grievances to be aired.
A whole school approach would involve:
- focusing on the leadership, values and ethos of the school;
- focusing on learning, teaching and the curriculum;
- focusing on learner support processes;
- focusing on the management of risks and responding to events;
- focusing on the relationship between the school and its community;
and focusing on the evaluation of the progress being made.
This resource pack focuses directly on the learning, teaching and curriculum aspects of a whole school approach. It is important, however, to see the connections between the learning, teaching and curriculum elements and the other dimensions of a whole school approach. Also it is important to recognize the links between the materials contained in this resource pack and other learning opportunities throughout the school. These materials will also assist schools in meeting its commitments towards enhancing community cohesion.