Parents angered by school work asking 10-year-old pupils to explain ISIS and Iraq war

A written assignment at an east London primary school has outraged parents after it asked 10-year-old pupils to answer questions about ISIS and the ongoing conflict in Iraq.

5Pillars understands that the project was handed out to an entire class last week at Halley Primary School in Tower Hamlets, east London.

It asked pupils to “write a report on what is happening in Iraq” by covering the following areas:

  • What is Islamic State?
  • Why did the fighting not stop after the Iraq war?
  • How does the future look?

Parents are concerned about the motive and consequences of the project.

One parent told 5Pillars: “What could possibly be achieved by asking a 10 year old these complex, sensitive and highly political questions? Is it a form of entrapment to try and corner him into criminalising himself? Is it an attempt to force the social services to get involved and have the children taken away?

“This is a major betrayal of the child’s safeguarding and trust. Did they think about the effects the child’s research into this subject may have had on his young mind?”

Tower Hamlets, east London
Tower Hamlets, east London

5Pillars contacted the school’s headteacher but received no response in time for publication. One member of staff, who wishes to remain anonymous, said the school had received “loads of calls” about the exercise and that many staff are as clueless as to what is going on as parents are.

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The staff member said the head teacher is trying to get to the bottom of what has happened and will be contacting parents to offer an explanation.

Many Muslims feel that the government’s controversial counter-terrorism Prevent programme has been used in schools and other public sector institutions to spy on Muslims, and until clarification is provided, some parents are worried that this incident at Halley Primary School case will be another example of that.

Last month, the Open Society Justice Initiative released a report calling on Prevent to be abolished in the education and healthcare sectors.

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