If we really want to tackle extremism, Prevent must seek to engage, not isolate

Development and Human Rights

Last week the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers voted overwhelmingly to reject the government’s Prevent strategy, claiming that it created “suspicion in the classroom and confusion in the staffroom”. This was yet another damning indictment of the current government’s approach to tackling extremism, which has been marred by accusations of being out of touch and ill-considered. Since last summer, teachers have been compelled to report pupils suspected of engaging in any kind of terrorist activity or radical behaviour. However a lack of understanding, a product of inadequate training, has resulted in 90% of referrals ending with no action taken. The damage done here is that a climate of pressure on teachers to report pupils has resulted in a McCarthyite climate of fear, and a tide of inappropriate accusations. The press has had a field day reporting the most bizarre instances of reporting that have resulted from…

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