Counter terrorism duty will lead to 'racist behaviours'

As teachers in Scotland undergo Prevent training, unions have said the strategy encourages racism in schools – but the SNP government says its approach is 'different' to England's

Emma Seith

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Counter-terrorism training for teachers is harmful, rooted in Islamophobia and likely to lead to an increase in racist incidents in schools, says Scotland’s largest teaching union.

The EIS said that it is opposed to Prevent – which imposes a legal requirement on teachers to report any suspected extremist behaviour to the authorities – and will resist attempts to make training in Prevent strategies mandatory for all teachers and lecturers.

The union is in the process of drawing up guidance for teachers on how to respond to Prevent, said its education and equality officer, Jenny Kemp.

It will stress the need to have strong anti-racism training in place in schools, because the introduction of Prevent could create “a conducive context for racist behaviours”, said Ms Kemp.

The union spoke a week after the UK Parliament’ joint committee on human rights (JCHR) called for an independent review of the Prevent strategy.

Earlier this month, figures showed that around a third of referrals to the Channel anti-radicalisation programme in 2015 in England and Wales had come from the education sector.

The president of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) is now calling for Education Scotland – the body leading the roll out of Prevent to schools – to evaluate the experience of south of the border before proceeding further.

SSTA president Euan Duncan said: “I am not convinced that it is healthy to place this kind of an onus on teachers.”

But a Scottish government spokesperson said that it was going to do things differently to England. “The Scottish government’s approach is different to that of the UK government as it ensures delivery reflects our communities and achieves a balanced and proportionate approach to safeguarding vulnerable individuals from radicalisation.”

This is an edited article from the 29 July edition of TESS. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week's TESS magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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