Many organisations – including the government – view education as one of the best ways to challenge the rise of radicalisation and the influence of extremist groups of all kinds.
In previous blogs we have discussed Prevent, a strategy established by the government to fight against radicalisation and terrorism (see our blogs: What Is Prevent and Why Does It Exist? and Prevent and Fundamental British Values).
Now we are looking at Educate Against Hate, an official government resource promoting education as a tool to combat extremism.
Educate Against Hate
The government set up Educate Against Hate to offer “advice, information and practical guidance to protecting children from radicalisation and extremism”.
There is information for parents, teachers and school leaders on the Educate Against Hate website, along with a blog and social media resources.
Who is Educate Against Hate aimed at?
The resources provided by Educate Against Hate are primarily created for the use of teachers and other educators. However, they can be used by anyone working with children, or parents and carers concerned about a child in their care.
Because schools and colleges are obliged by law to safeguard students and help protect communities through the Prevent strategy, those working in the education sector need to be aware of their responsibilities but also how to identify those vulnerable to radicalisation and take appropriate steps.
How do students become radicalised?
The pathways into radicalisation and which young people are more likely to be influenced are discussed in our blog: Prevent: Who is Vulnerable?. While some students might read material and be contacted online, others might be approached in person by individuals and organisations.
What signs should educators look out for?
This can be challenging as the signs of radicalisation are numerous and vary from one person to another. It can also be difficult to separate some normal adolescent behaviour from signs of radicalisation, for example, becoming less communicative with parents and teachers, or expressing feelings of grievance and injustice.
Educate Against Hate has put together a guide based on research by a Canadian organisation: The Centre for the Prevention of Radicalisation Leading to Violence (CPRLV). This has separated out different behaviours as follows:
Teachers are expected to intervene if worrisome or alarming behaviour is demonstrated in the classroom. The Educate Against Hate website provides a more extensive list but examples include:
- Quick to condemn those who don’t agree, and ignore or demonise viewpoints which contradict their own
- Become socially withdrawn and spending increasing amounts of time online
- Justifying the use of violence and criminality or expressing a desire for “revenge” and “absolute truth”
As teachers will generally be familiar with a pupil’s personality and usual behaviour, they are expected to use their professional judgement about when a student starts to act out of character. The first step would be to bring any concerns up with the designated Prevent or Safeguarding member of staff.
The Educate Against Hate website has many further resources to help educators recognise who might be vulnerable to radicalisation, what the warning signs are, and what their own responsibilities are under current guidelines and legislation.
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