Luton school accused of “profiling” kids over “extremism course”

A Luton school has been accused of trying to “profile” Muslim kids after it sent a letter to parents informing them that their children would be studying topics such as extremism, terrorism, sexual exploitation and forced marriages, writes Roshan Muhammed Salih.

Barnfield West Academy, which is a school for 11-18 year olds with a high Muslim intake, sent the letter to parents of Year 8 pupils on May 15.

Reza Kazim, a Luton educationalist and a spokesman for the Islamic Human Rights Commission, told 5Pillars that the school is following a government agenda to create a de facto police state, and is allowing itself to be used as a tool to profile kids.

He said children could be taken away from parents and put into care if they said the wrong thing during the course.

The school letter reads as follows:

Dear Parent/Carer,

Year 8 PSHE

As part of your child’s Personal, Social and Health Education they will be looking at the following topic after half-term:

– Extremism

Topics that fall under this unit are as follows:

– Terrorism

– Sexual exploitation

– Radicalisation

– Arranged and forced marriages

Throughout the unit there will be a number of external agencies which are specialists in delivering education to school children in these subjects, working with our students. The aims of this unit of work are to increase awareness, highlight why they are of such importance within society today and to enable youngsters to make informed decisions and support each other efficiently and responsibly.

We feel it extremely important that your child participate in the lessons and class discussions as each of the above topics are of relevance to us all, but particularly to young people growing up and becoming responsible adults in society.

Yours Faithfully,

C Passmoore
Teacher of Physical Education and PSHE coordinator

“Kids could be taken into care”

Reacting to the letter, the IHRC’s Reza Kazim said the school course isn’t about creating a “safe space to allow discussion about extremism,” but is about moving into that “private space” as London Met policeman Mak Chishty described.

“Basically, if the school finds a child’s views on a given issue unpalatable they could report that child to the authorities and they could potentially be taken into care,” he said.

“The school needs to describe what ‘extremism’ is because it hasn’t really been identified. And the kids need to be told before they attend these lessons what is within the law and what isn’t. They also need to be made aware of the consequences of what they say if it is outside of the law.”

Mak Chishty says the authorities need to monitor Muslim kids
Mak Chishty says the authorities need to monitor Muslim kids

He added: “The government and schools are not best placed to intervene in the radicalisation issue because the government’s agenda is so toxic and about insigating more Islamophobia. As for schools, they just haven’t got a clue about the nunaces of this debate within Muslim communities. There is a radiucalisation problem but it can only be solved within Muslim communities themsleves.”

5Pillars has contacted Barnfield West Academy for a response to Reza Kazim’s comments and is awaiting a reply.

At its last Ofsted inspection last year the Academy was described as “a good school.”

The report said: “Students achieve well in a wide range of subjects including English and mathematics at KS3 and KS4… Teaching is good across all key stages. Students take immense pride in their academy and behave extremely well as a result. Their attitudes to learning are exceptionally constructive.

“The effective leadership of the Principal and his senior team has created a strong shared ethos which positively enhances every area of academy life. A relentless focus on the quality of teaching by leaders and governors has ensured that achievement is improving at every key stage. The academy’s work to keep students safe and secure is outstanding.”

 

You can follow Roshan Muhammed Salih on Twitter @RMSalih

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