October 9, 2008

Violent Extremism ‘Creeping into Britain’s Primary Schools’

The examples are contained in new guidance for schools on how they can help prevent violent extremism.The guidance says schools should identify pupils at risk of being drawn into extremism and encourages teachers to allow classes to discuss controversial issues such as terrorism and racism.Schools should also have a named teacher to whom pupils can report any concerns of grooming by extremist groups.Schools Secretary Ed Balls said the new guidance was a direct response to calls from schools for more support, and follows consultation with young people, teachers and local communities.Specific incidents schools said they have had to deal with include:n A number of pupils brought far-right literature into schools encouraging violence towards a local ethnic community. The literature had been given out by a group who were at the school gates and in the school car park the previous night.n A primary-age pupil in the playground talked about the "duty of all true Muslims to prepare for jihad war as we grow up" and spoke of the "7/7 martyrs" with admiration.n During primary school "circle time" a number of pupils said they had been involved in physical attacks on children outside school "to make them go back to their own country".Mr Balls yesterday announced 4.68m in funding for the initiative and said schools will be supplied with a toolkit giving teachers practical advice about challenging extremism and building respect between pupils.Yesterday's announcement comes just weeks after Britain's youngest terrorist, 18-year-old Hammaad Munshi, of Savile Town, Dewsbury, was locked up for two years after plans to cause death and destruction were found hidden in his bedroom.He was just 15 when he was recruited into a worldwide plot to wipe out non- Muslims.In a visit to Hatch End High school in north-west London yesterday, Mr Balls said the new guidance was not about asking teachers "to be monitors and to be doing surveillance".But he added: "If something concerns them, we want them to know who to turn to for help."The initiative was welcomed by teaching unions. Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "Schools will welcome the fact that the guidance provides advice and support without imposing any new duties or requirements on schools."

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