A safe space

Schools should be a safe space where students can discuss social and political issues, including extremism and terrorism. Building their resilience will put them in a stronger position to reject extremist views.

You can build students’ resilience to extremist narratives by equipping them with the skills and knowledge to explore political and social issues critically, to weigh evidence, debate and make reasoned arguments.

This can include facilitating conversations about extremism and radicalisation in an age-appropriate way, as well as other social and political issues.

Another way that you can build resilience in your students is by promoting fundamental British values of:

  • Democracy
  • Rule of law
  • Individual liberty
  • Mutual respect and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs

The Department for Education has published advice on discussing fundamental British values as part of promoting the spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development of your students. You can find it here.

In the national curriculum programmes of study there are already lots of opportunities to cover the Fundamental British Values. For example, the Citizenship programme of study prepares pupils to take their place in society as responsible citizens, while the History curriculum helps pupils to gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world including the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups.

There are many resources available on this website, including lesson plans and multi-media resources, that can help you address issues relating to extremism and radicalisation sensitively and in an engaging and age-appropriate manner.

This includes material on the strengths, advantages and challenges of democracy, and how democracy and the law works in Britain compared to the types of government in other countries.

You could also show democracy in action by introducing a school council whose members are voted for by the students, and hold mock elections to promote fundamental British values. This would provide students with the opportunity to learn how to argue and defend points of view.

It’s important to discuss issues around identity, difference and tolerance. Subject associations will be well placed to advise on engaging ways to promote British values and teach tolerance.

Resources

Debating can enable young people to engage with a broad range of social, scientific and ethical issues facing society today. It can provide students with the opportunity to learn how to argue and defend points of view. Debating Matters provides guides and resources for setting up debate clubs in schools, together with details on the Institute of Ideas’ National Debating Matters Competition.

A 15-hour programme of creative activities for young people to develop awareness, skills and knowledge related to democracy and voting, thereby supporting the promotion of British values. It is likely to be most effective when used with young people whose engagement with politics and the democratic process is relatively low, but who have some interest in social and community issues and who care about making a positive change in their communities and beyond. The programme helps to make ideas about democracy accessible. Information and activities can be adapted so they are relevant and appropriate for each group of young people.

Through a series of hard-hitting films of real people affected by radicalisation, Extreme Dialogue enables teachers to show young people all the faces of extremism. It equips young people to challenge extremism, helping them navigate core themes and questions using films, educational resources and training. Videos are accompanied by interactive presentations (Prezis). The downloadable resources are all modular and are informed by more than 20 years of research and experience in managing global and community conflict. The seven true stories include a mother whose son died fighting in Syria and a former member of a far-right terrorist group. You will need to give your email address to Extreme Dialogue when downloading the below resources.

Robbie’s Story, created by HOPE not Hate, centres around the case study of former far-right extremist Robbie Mullen. The teacher video and CPD session plan could be used for teacher training sessions to raise awareness of extreme right-wing issues and actions to take for concerns. HOPE not Hate is an advocacy group which campaigns against racism and fascism.  

To access the video, fill in the short form on the HOPE not Hate website.