Education > Do ‘fundamental British values’ stigmatise young Muslim students?

Posted on July 6, 2017

Montage by Toby Nimmo & Alyssia Griffith

Urte Sereikaite investigates impact of government’s ‘Prevent’ scheme
Research shows the government’s Prevent scheme causes teachers to be concerned for their Muslim pupils.

Coventry, Durham and Huddersfield Universities recently conducted a survey of school and college staff in West Yorkshire and London, two years after the scheme was introduced. They found that the staff expressed increased concern about the effectiveness of this anti-radicalisation strategy.

Introduced in 2015, the Prevent strategy is part of the government’s anti-radicalisation scheme, aiming to stop support for terrorism in schools. Teachers are encouraged to challenge extremist views that are part of terrorist ideology. This also means teachers have to intervene to stop students moving from extremism into terrorist activity, as well as report suspicious behaviour.

Teachers believe it may, in fact, weaken the ability to form a more inclusive school environment for students from various cultural backgrounds. Teachers have expressed increased concern about the stigmatisation of their Muslim students, fearing that the strategy will actually isolate and marginalise them.

Pressure on schools to promote fundamental British values

Some worry that this strategy will in fact prove to be counter-productive in preventing support to extremist groups, warning that genuine cases of students being allured into extremism are unlikely to be noticeable.

The study, based on interviews with education professionals, found that Prevent faces no major opposition. It is generally “accepted by schools and colleges and has helped to foster fairly widespread confidence about the duty,” according to lead investigator for the survey, Dr Joel Busher.

However, the pressure on schools to promote ‘fundamental British values’, in order to encourage resilience against extremism, has been seen as more problematic. It has caused “widespread discomfort and uncertainty” about the actual objective of the anti-radicalisation strategy.

The university findings have provided a valuable insight into what impact the scheme is having on students, as well as the opinions of those who are responsible for enforcing the scheme in the education system.

Busher added, “It is likely to be some years before we are able to truly assess the impact of the Prevent duty and further research is needed.”

What do you think? Please comment below.

What I think
I believe that the government’s goal, through the use of Prevent, is undoubtedly to ensure security and protection for everyone in the education system and elsewhere. However, I do not think that this should be an excuse for people of different ethnic minorities to be scrutinised and, as a result, made to feel isolated just because of who they are.

Our thanks to the Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers
for making this project possible.

Urte Sereikaite
Urte is a student at the Compton School Sixth Form. She thoroughly enjoys English Literature and hopes to study it at university, and in some way, shape or form, pursue it as a career in the future.

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