Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We Could All Do with Learning More about British Values; STEPHEN LAMBERT COLUMNIST

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We Could All Do with Learning More about British Values; STEPHEN LAMBERT COLUMNIST

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Lambert

LAST SUMMER the Government placed a legal duty on all schools, colleges and universities to be pro-active in challenging 'extremism' as part of its Prevent strategy.

This means teachers being on the look-out for signs of potential radicalisation whether that be affiliations with far-right groups or fascistreligious movements such as ISIS. By 2015 the Government set out its 'Fundamental British Values' programme to be delivered in all educational establishments and other public bodies and has been reaffirmed by Dame Louise Casey in her one-year review on community cohesion released this week.

The basis of the Government's 'FBVs partly stems from the 'Trojan Horse' affair in 2014. A report exposed an alleged plot by hard-line Islamists to take over the management of some secondary schools in Birmingham. It was claimed that dirty tricks were being used to weed out non-Muslim staff . A number of schools were downgraded by the watchdog Ofsted from 'outstanding' to 'inadequate'.

Likewise there's disturbing evidence of extreme far-right individuals infiltrating multi-racial college campuses and into the teaching profession itself.

To date a small number of teachers have been found to in breach of the FBV agenda and banned from the classroom.. The North East teacher, Adam Walker, has been struck off as a result of his active involvement with the British National party (BNP).

It's worth remembering that as late as 2009 the former BNP MEP Andrew Broms was a lecturer in politics at Harrogate College. As a former chairman of the far-right NF, who had a conviction for inciting anti-semitism, he would have been excluded from teaching young vulnerable adults under the Prevent rules.

Most schools have complied with the legislation and have strengthened their safeguarding policies and procedures to protect both students and staff from extremist propaganda either in the classroom or via social media.

But Casey argues more "weight should be attached to British values in the national curriculum'' and her report raises "serious concerns'' about the growth of unregistered Muslim schools and kids being taught at homes.

The Government's programme of FBVs includes a knowledge of and understanding of the tenets of democracy including voting, representation and democratic bodies; the rule of law; mutual respect involving an appreciation of the bases of discrimination and the Equality Acts' protected characteristics; tolerance of other faiths and beliefs and individual liberty in which the student knows about their rights and responsibilities in our liberal democratic society.

A number of schools and FE colleges in the region have embedded FBVs into GCSE Citizenship programmes. …

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