Calls To Scrap Counter-Terrorism Teacher Training

18 July 2016, 06:39 | Updated: 18 July 2016, 12:15

The Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC) group is calling for the suspension of counter-terrorism training for teachers following a report by Rights Watch UK.

The Prevent strategy is a UK-wide anti-radicalisation strategy implemented in educational institutions intended to stop people turning to terrorism.

Since summer 2015, teachers in England and Wales have been obliged to refer to police pupils they suspect of engaging in some sort of terrorist activity or radical behaviour.

In March, the strategy was rejected outright by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) over concerns it is silencing conversation in the classroom and damaging community cohesion.

The strategy has not yet been fully implemented in Scottish schools, however Scottish teachers are expected to be trained at the end of the summer break.

SACC and other human rights groups believe that the Prevent strategy is "discriminatory, undermines the relationship between educators and students and is more likely to foster terrorism than to prevent it''.

In a Human Rights and UK Counter-Terrorism Policy in Schools report released by charity, Rights Watch UK last week, they recommended that the Prevent Strategy must be "repealed and abandoned''.

The report states that the Prevent strategy is "leaving a generation of young Britons fearful of exercising their rights to freedom of expression and belief and risks being counter-productive by driving children to discuss issues related to terrorism, religion and identity outside the classroom and online where simplistic narratives are promoted and go unchallenged''.

Richard Haley, chair of SACC said: "The report from Rights Watch UK confirms and amplifies our own concerns over Prevent.

"The problem is particularly acute in schools. Prevent's impact on Scottish schools has so far been limited, but Education Scotland is planning to step Prevent up massively in the next academic year.

"If this goes ahead, the damage to Scotland's young people and its education system will be very hard to repair. Education Scotland needs to learn from the mistakes made in England and think again. There must be an immediate moratorium on all training for school staff in connection with Prevent.''

The Rights Watch UK report adds weight to many who have voiced concerns against the strategy.

Earlier this year, following an independent assessment from terrorism legislation expert David Anderson QC, he said the duty by teachers had become "a significant source of grievance among British Muslims, encouraging mistrust to spread and to fester''.