Once again in recent weeks radicalisation hits our headlines – this time with the NUS protesting loudly at the the Government’s stance on anti-radicalisation training for tutoring staff. Yusuf Hassan, the vice-president of student affairs for an umbrella group representing 130,000 Muslim students across the UK and Ireland was quoted in The Guardian as saying:
‘Terms such as radicalisation have not been defined or quantified. It is open to interpretation, leaving us in a difficult situation. It is not, nor should it be within the ability of a student or lecturer to report on extremism of people showing signs of it.’
It’s this kind of challenge that led to GMLPF running radicalisation workshops over the summer. The sessions were designed to help equip our providers and their tutors with the understanding to approach the radicalisation issue with balance and sensitivity.
Spectrum of New Challenges
Following an OFSTED report revealing that radicalisation was a key concern at some schools, the government introduced the ‘Prevent’ strategy and hailed it as as anti-radicalisation initiative. From July 1st the legislation placed an obligation on education and training institutions to extend the safeguarding of students in their care to include anti-radicalisation.
GMLPF’s members are aware that extreme groups often focus their efforts on recruiting the younger generation. But whilst the legal obligation presents new challenges, it doesn’t necessarily change the existing beliefs or attitudes of our members which fundamentally embrace and encourage social diversity.
What Our Members are Doing
Debbie Tagoe, GMLPF Chair and a Director at Mode Training sums up: ‘Of course training providers need to be on the look out for for potentially vulnerable individuals just as much as anybody pushing any kind of propaganda. But the challenge is to develop an approach and ethos which both promotes British values as stipulated by the government, and equally embraces diversity.’
Brian Quinn, operations director at tpm on Merseyside explains: ‘We recognise that early intervention and prevention rather than cure is the best – or perhaps the only – approach. We have always believed that a proactive approach, closely managing situations to ensure a positive outcome, reflects our sense of public duty. To this aim we joined forces with fellow training provider Mode to tackle the challenge of ‘Prevent’ head on through a series of workshops’.
- Focusing on critical thinking in pupils
- Ensuring pupils are aware of bias and propaganda, especially online
- Rewriting of policies and ensuring curriculum plans reflect the appropriate requirements
- Look for practical ways to embrace diversity
- Equipping staff with clear steps to take if they encounter a student at risk
- Encourage a healthy approach to online citizenship and get students to take responsibility for the choices they make
James Glendenning, chief executive of GMLPF adds: ‘The implementation of the ‘Prevent’ strategy needs careful consideration so that acceptance of different faiths and beliefs is not compromised. We always recommend our members promote democracy, anti-extremism, individual liberty and mutual respect.’