The Skills Company has secured funding from The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) to develop learning materials to promote British values, and identify and tackle extremism and radicalisation in response to the government’s Prevent programme.  Prevent is a key part of the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy, and aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism through various forms of radicalisation.

Under the Prevent Strategy, there is an obligation on providers of education and training to ensure that learners are safeguarded, and that includes protecting them from extremist and violent views in the same ways that they help to safeguard children from drugs, gang violence or alcohol.  Ofsted inspections will start to focus on what steps colleges and training providers are taking to address these issues.

Sheila Mallon, the Skills Company’s lead on Safeguarding said:

“A lot of work has gone on in schools to address the Prevent agenda, but not so much has been done in the vocational training sector, and yet the issues are just as relevant.  The values that we are aiming to promote are crucial to our way of life.  They are:

  • Democracy
  • The rule of law
  • Individual liberty
  • Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.”

“We wanted to involve our young people as much as possible in helping to develop the materials.  We arranged a visit from the Foundation for Peace, the organisation that was set up in the wake of the IRA bombing in Warrington in 1993.  The Foundation works nationally to support those affected by terrorism and conflict.  They believe that addressing the causes of violence before, during and after conflict situations is the most effective way possible to promote peace.

My Former Life is a multimedia education resource developed by the Foundation, which brings together four former extremists who present their stories to help counter violent extremism.  The resource explores the motivations these people had to become involved in violent conflict, the consequences of their actions and their departure from the group that brought them to the brink.  The young people who took part in the session found it extremely powerful and thought provoking.”

“And then last week, the same group of young people had a visit to the Pankhurst Centre in Manchester, the birthplace of the Suffragette movement.  They had a tour of the building, and a presentation on the struggle for women’s votes.  Again they found the visit very useful and informative.  Many of them didn’t realise that women didn’t have a vote until relatively recently.”

“These activities have provided a very useful platform for us to explore some of the issues that lie behind the values, and will be a great benefit to us as we develop the learning resources.”

Comments from young people attending the sessions:

“I found the workshop on extremists really educational.  I learned about extremists I have never heard of and their life stories. I’m looking forward to doing more on extremism.”

“I enjoyed the workshop on `My Former Life`.  I learned so much about different groups and different religions” 

“When we went to the Pankhurst Centre, we found out so much about the struggle that women had so that they could vote.  We sat in the parlour where Emmeline Pankhurst used to sit,  and it’s really good  the way that the Pankhurst Centre works with families who are in crisis now,  particularly the food banks that they have and the fact that they have clothes for women and children when families are in crisis.”