Monday, October 8, 2007

British Schools (Embassy email)

[Note: the actual date of this email was October 8, 2008. The above incorrect date was forced for blog archiving purposes; please disregard it.]

This email is to advise you that an article matching one of your interests has been published: UK Schools to play a key role in preventing violent extremism.

Schools can play a key role in empowering young people to reject the messages of violent extremism, Schools Secretary, Ed Balls said as he launched advice for schools on how to contribute to the fight against violent extremism. The learning together to be safe toolkit aims to show how all schools can help build mutual respect and understanding, encourage debate and provide support to vulnerable pupils.

While violent extremism influenced by Al Qaida currently poses the greatest security threat other forms of extremism and hate- or race-based prejudice are also affecting our communities and causing alienation amongst young people. The toolkit shows how education can be used to tackle all forms of extremism and build a stronger, safer society based on core British values.

The toolkit responds to calls from practitioners for practical advice and is the result of extensive consultation with young people, teachers, and community representatives. It is part of to the Governments wider PREVENT strategy.

Local areas need to work together to address the particular issues they face. The Government is providing ᆪ4.68 million ($8.16 million) additional funding for local authorities and the police to provide customised local information and support schools in using the toolkit.

We are also making the Watch Over Me DVD  a resource for schools to use to explore controversial issues with pupils  available free for all schools for the next three years.

The toolkit aims to:

Raise awareness of the threat from violent extremist groups and the risks for young people and provide information on how schools can work with others in partnership locally;
Show schools the positive contribution they can make  equipping yo ung people to challenge extremist views through programmes like SEAL in primary schools and Citizenship in secondary schools; and
Encourage staff to support vulnerable pupils and manage risks.
Ed Balls said:

Dealing with violent extremism is nothing new for the UK and we have learnt from past experience that a security response is not enough. We need to address the underlying issues that can drive people into the hands of violent extremist groups and encourage local communities to come together to expose the flaws in extremists arguments, to reject cruelty and violence and promote our core British values of tolerance, liberty, fairness and respect of the rule of law.

Young people are already very much alive to these problems and are keen for the opportunity to express their views and air their concerns. A recent report by the UK Youth Parliament showed that 94% of young people think schools are the best environment to discuss preventing terrorism and violent extremism.

That is why I am publishing a toolkit for schools to help them contribute to the prevention of violent extremism. It shows how schools can help pupils of all ages to develop the knowledge and skills to challenge and debate.

The toolkit responds to feedback from teachers and others on the need for more practical advice on how to support pupils, working alongside other local partners and community organisations. And because a local partnership approach tailored to the needs of particular communities is so important, we are giving additional funding to all local authorities and to police to provide local information to go alongside the toolkit and to support schools in this work.

Ian Fenn, Head of Burnage Arts and Media College, Manchester said:

No one should doubt the importance of preventing violent extremism and the role that all schools can play. This comprehensive toolkit provides head teachers and schools with much needed advice and ideas that will help bring about a safer society. It w ill be an invaluable tool.

Jolie Kirby, Head of Cheney School, Oxford said:

The role of the school community is an important one in helping young people debate and discuss values and appropriate actions. I welcome the structure the toolkit provides to the school community. I believe it will assist staff in schools to further develop their work.

Peter Parker, Head teacher of King David Primary school, Manchester said:

There is no quick-fix but this toolkit will prove very helpful in tackling the complex issues facing all educational establishments and wider society.

Professor Lynn Davies, author of Education Against Extremism said:

This resource combines highly practical advice with engagement with deep and controversial issues. Education globally has a vital role to play in the challenge to violent extremism, and this toolkit starts to show how this can be done.

Usman Nawaz, age 18, Member of UK Youth Parliament for Rochdale, said:

The effects of terrorism and violent extremism have an impact on everyone in society, including young people. Young people from all backgrounds need to be empowered to discuss matters relating to terrorism and preventing violent extremism on their own terms.

We need more support for teachers who are dealing with such sensitive subjects. As a Muslim myself, to deal with extremism, we have to incorporate all faiths in these discussions. Teachers should be given support and materials which they can use to achieve this.

Please click on the link to view the article: here

Kind regards,
FCO Webmaster
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