How do you tackle radicalisation? With polar bears at primary school

Feb 20, 2018 by

A 98% Muslim school in Birmingham is pioneering a new way to counter extremism by starting with the youngest pupils

Shazia arrived in Britain from Pakistan in 1990, settled with her husband in Birmingham and felt safe. They built a comfortable life together and had four children; the eldest is now at university and the youngest is a pupil at Parkfield community primary school.

But Shazia, a Muslim, no longer feels safe in the UK, she says. It’s not because of racism – she works for a large company where her headscarf is not an issue – but through constant fear of terrorist attacks. They may be carried out in the name of Islam but, she says, they are in direct contradiction to the faith’s pacifist teaching and compassion.

She says it’s a hard message to get across when the word “Muslim” is splashed across the media next to the words “terrorist” “bomb” and “murder” and confusing for children, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. That’s why she’s here at school at 8.45am on a cold, wet Monday to support her daughter at a workshop to show parents how the school promotes equality and diversity. The hope is that by making sure all children feel welcome and part of society at an early age, they are less likely to be seduced by militant ideology later on.

“When we came to this country everything was so safe but now when we go out we are scared. People of all religions find bombs frightening,” says Shazia. “Children go off to college or to university or to work and say goodbye to their families in the morning and then they never come back. When my daughter goes to college I am not relaxed until she gets back.”

Parkfield is an unusual school. It’s larger than the average primary with 775 pupils from 23 nationalities, and more than 98% of them are from Muslim homes. It serves an area of east Birmingham where three inquiries were held into an alleged “Trojan Horse” plot by Muslim governors to take over schools, but Parkfield was not involved.

Source: How do you tackle radicalisation? With polar bears at primary school | Education | The Guardian

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