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:
- 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.