A Birmingham school gave parents just two day’s notice about a BBC Panorama crew which would be filming in the school for a documentary on the highly-controversial Prevent strategy.
The crew was in Waverley School today and according to the school would “showcase some of the excellent work we do around Safeguarding and the Prevent Duty.”
The letter, which was sent on Wednesday and signed by Principal Jacqueline Newsome, states: “The film crew will be in the school on Friday 25th November 2016 and would like to film your child’s class with your consent. Could you please complete the attached form and return it to their form tutor by tomorrow morning.”
Nowhere on the form was there an option to decline consent, potentially leading parents to think that there was no other option but to give consent.
Kamal Hanif, Executive Head at Waverley School in Bordesley Green, was part of David Cameron’s “Community Engagement Forum” which was formed to “discuss counter-extremism.”
Hanif was parachuted in to turn around three schools at the heart of the Trojan Horse affair but later resigned for “personal family reasons.”
Last year it was reported that Hanif would advise school leaders on how to protect pupils from being radicalised by “Muslim extremists.” He was to run seminars alongside controversial pro-Prevent campaigner Sara Khan in Birmingham, Bristol, London, Manchester and Leeds.
Prevent is seen among large parts of the Muslim community as a spying and monitoring exercise on the community. Public sector workers, including teachers, are now required by law to look out for the “signs of extremism.”
Prevent is opposed by a wide cross section of Muslim institutions and organisations including mosques. Prevent has also been condemned by the National Union of Students, The University College Union and by academics.
Raza Kazim, of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, told 5Pillars that the school principal should be investigated for giving such short notice to parents.
“Considering the controversy surrounding Prevent, it is shocking that the Principal of a school has only allowed two days for parents to consider their involvement in a documentary on Prevent. The governors of the school need to investigate the action of the Principal and possibly discipline the Principal about professional competence around safeguarding children from the psychological harm that could be caused to them as a result of participating in this.
“One of the responsibilities of a Principal of a school is to look after the interests of the children in his care and this is going to bring unacceptable pressure to bear on the children. This suggests woeful neglect on the part of the Principal.”