Is the ‘War on Terror’ still on? We don’t hear much about foreign policy nowadays, perhaps there is a sense that dropping bombs on peoples homes in the middle east might force them to find homes elsewhere. Its probably not a vote winner. The government must still appear strong however, so without targets abroad the crosshairs hover over…. oh our school children.
The parents of a 14 year old are in the middle of legal action after he was left “scared and nervous” when school officials questioned him about Islamic State after an environmental discussion. The incident gives insight in to the interpretation of policy documents that the government have issued to all schools regarding the threat of terrorist extremism.
Looking over the policy documents there is lots of talk of inclusion, support of vulnerable groups and proportionality, even an explicit mention that it is not a police program and must not become one. So when a 14 year old engages in class with an inquiry about eco-terrorism (he even said it in french as it was a modern languages class), why is he later questioned by an outside agency about any possible affiliation with ISIS. This was days later and therefore a considered action by school management rather than a spur of the moment reaction.
The school said it was protecting the “welfare of the child in line with statutory and non-statutory guidance including the ‘prevent duty’, the government initiative drawn up to counter homegrown extremism. Those
same documents also speak of “supporting vulnerable people” and warn that people are drawn to extremist groups “Is likely to be fuelled by a sense of grievance that can be triggered by personal experience of racism or discrimination”
It appears to be that there is a debate to be had – the school maintains that their safeguarding steps can not be criticised. Where as since the child has felt the need to quit his French lessons and now is much more guarded about contributing to class, its arguable whether the staff conduct policy of promoting equality, equal opportunity – challenging stereotypes, opposing prejudice and respecting individuals has been brought in to disrepute.