Extremism, values, and education in policy and practice

Revell, Lynn and Elton-Chalcraft, Sally (2021) Extremism, values, and education in policy and practice. In: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Oxford University Press. Item availability may be restricted.

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Abstract

The relationship between extremism and schools is a seemingly contradictory one. The UK Prevent Duty’s aim (to prevent and also root out extremism in schools) is often, ironically, blamed for aiding the radicalization process, but it is also identified by states and international bodies as a primary tool with which to combat it. In the early 21st century there has been a development of policies and law designed to prevent violent extremism (PVE) as a part of an international response to 9/11 in 2001 and the war on terror. Policy approaches to extremism in education were revised and reworked in the first and second decades of the 21st century in response to various events, including the 2005 London and 2017 Manchester bombings, and the increasing fear that education system had allowed homegrown terrorists raised in England to commit terrorist acts. The promotion of fundamental British values in school and teacher education contexts has been met with varied responses. Since the inception of this strategy, it has been criticized from a number of perspectives. The National Union of Teachers passed a motion at its annual conference in 2016 condemning the idea of promoting “fundamental British values” as an act of cultural supremacism and other researchers have noted that conceptually the strategy is flawed and counterproductive. In 2014 a document that was to become known as the Trojan Horse letter was leaked to Birmingham City Council, which outlined an alleged plot by hardline jihadists to take over a number of Birmingham schools. The outcome of the affair had ramifications beyond that initial cluster of schools and impacted on the way all schools engaged with the counterterrorism agenda. The furor surrounding the event acted as a catalyst for the generation of policy that introduced an even greater meshing between education and the security agenda, resulting in the concepts of Muslims being seen as a “suspect community” and teachers being positioned as “agents of surveillance.” Research has also investigated the extent to which there has been a “chilling effect” in educational settings in the early 21st century as a result of the Prevent policy, with both teachers and learners feeling under scrutiny, and cautious about speaking freely in their educational environment.

Many researchers consider that teachers face a dilemma—to deliver governmental policy uncritically (the safe option to ensure compliance and positive outcomes in terms of Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills); or to challenge a perceived governmental stranglehold and take the more risky option, whereby teachers critically explore effective ways of promoting British values. Some scholars in the second decade of the 21st century have argued that teachers have subsumed counterterrorism policy into their own safeguarding practice. Extremism, values, and education is an emerging field in educational research, that is uncovering (among other things) the extent to which educational professionals from Early Years to university level challenge the prejudicial implications of the Prevent Duty legislation, are providing open spaces for critical and informed debate, and are adhering to policy to prevent violent extremism.

Item Type: Book Section
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780190264093
Departments: Departments > Institute of Education > Initial Teacher Education
Depositing User: Christian Stretton
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2021 09:15
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2021 20:00
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/6133

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