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Extreme Dialogue

Education tool to challenge extremism launched

July 15, 2016 | Nick Taylor

Education tool to challenge extremism launched in the UK – Extreme Dialogue to help teachers build pupils’ resilience to extremism and fulfil the statutory PREVENT duty

A  schools-based programme using the powerful stories of former extremists and survivors of extremism will launch on Friday (15th July) 2016 at Quintin Kynaston School, St John’s Wood, London.  The Academy was attended by Mohammed Emwazi, who went on to become the black-clad militant seen in Islamic State (IS) videos and became known as ‘Jihadi John.’

Extreme Dialogue, provides free, open-access educational resources for teachers and other frontline workers to help build resilience amongst young people aged 14-18+ to all kinds of extremism and propaganda. The resources enable teachers to fulfil their statutory obligations, known as the ‘Prevent duty’, to protect children from the risk of radicalisation, in addition to other harms including drugs, gangs, abuse or sexual exploitation.

The project, first launched in Canada in 2015,  is a consortium led initiative by the Institute of Strategic Dialogue, the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace and film production company Duckrabbit.  The initiative is funded by Public Safety Canada and the European Commission.  In Europe, the consortium is supported by partners including the West London Initiative in the UK, Cultures Interactive in Germany and Political Capital in Hungary.

The educational tool contains over six hours of structured classroom exercises and group activities for use in schools.

Quintin Kynaston School will be among the first in the UK to use the educational resources as part of the curriculum when the new school year starts in September. It is hoped other UK schools will quickly follow suit, taking advantage of the offer of the free classroom materials, and use them to prevent their own pupils from becoming influenced by extremism.

Extreme Dialogue uses the stories of real people, told in their own words, raw and unscripted, so that young people can learn from those whose lives have been profoundly impacted by extremism. The UK resources include two short films featuring Britons that have both been affected by extremism – Billy McCurrie, a former member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) whose father was killed by the IRA, and Adam Deen, a former member of the now banned Islamist group, Al-Muhajiroun.

The UK films and education tool are presented alongside three Canadian stories, including a former violent far-right extremist, the family of an ISIS foreign fighter, and a youth worker and former refugee. Extreme Dialogue will also be launching in Germany and Hungary later in 2016.

Extreme Dialogue provides teachers and youth workers with the tools to equip young people with the skills to think critically and learn how to challenge extremism for themselves. The easy-to-use multimedia resources contain over six hours of classroom exercises and group activities to encourage pupils to confront extremist views through a series of activities that allow active discussion and critical thinking on sensitive topics. They help young people understand the propaganda and recruitment tactics used by extremist groups, the dangers of ‘black and white’ thinking, and the impact that extremism has on a human level.

Kelly Simcock, Director of Programmes at The Tim Parry and Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace said: “For over 20 years the Foundation has been working with young people to educate them to prevent violent conflict and reject extremism.

“Having worked with victims and former extremists, we know that these powerful testimonies can help provide teachers and educators with the tools they need to catalyse conversation around these issues with workshops to help manage those in a safe and constructive way.”

The education tool has been piloted in both Canada and the UK ahead of their wider rollout. Schools across British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario are already using the resources in their classrooms. More information can be found at www.extremedialogue.org

The Extreme Dialogue films and educational resources will be available for UK schools to use in the 2016-17 school year

ENDS

Notes:

The programme is co-funded by Public Safety, Canada and by the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Union, and has been developed by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), the educational charity Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace and film-makers Duckrabbit.

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) is a London-based ‘think and do tank’ that has pioneered policy and operational responses to the rising challenges of violent extremism and inter-communal conflict. Combining research and analysis with government advisory work and delivery programmes, ISD has been at the forefront of forging real-world, evidence-based responses to the challenges of integration, extremism, and terrorism.

 The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace is a charity that works nationally and internationally to promote peace and non-violent conflict resolution. The Foundation for Peace was founded by the parents of 12-year old Tim Parry and supported by the parents of three-year-old Johnathan Ball. Tim and Johnathan were tragically killed as a direct result of the IRA’s bombing of Warrington in the UK in March 1993.

Duckrabbit is a film production and training company. It makes films and other media for commercial, charity and broadcast clients. It also trains photographers, videographers, journalists, researchers and communications professionals in audio-visual storytelling, production skills, and online strategic communications. Since formation in 2008, Duckrabbit has won two National Press Photographers Association awards, a Picture of the Year International multimedia award, both the multimedia and the feature photograph categories of the British Press Photographers Association award and the Sony Production Award for Factual Film-making.

PREVENT – From 1st July 2015, all schools have been subject to a statutory duty under section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, commonly known as the PREVENT duty. The duty requires schools to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. Protecting children from the risk of radicalisation is considered in the context of schools’ wider safeguarding duties, similarly to protecting children from other harms such as drug abuse, gangs, abuse or sexual exploitation.

Schools are also encouraged to build pupils’ resilience to radicalisation by promoting “British values” (defined as democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith) and empowering them to challenge extremist views. The Prevent duty guidance emphasizes that it is not intended to stop pupils debating controversial issues, but instead encourages schools to provide a safe space for children, young people and teachers to discuss the risks associated with terrorism and develop the knowledge, skills and ability to be able to challenge extremist arguments.

The UK launch is supported by the West London Initiative is an independent organisation committed to fostering personal and social development amongst youth susceptible to violent extremism and criminality. West London Initiative provide a legitimate holistic alternative to young people from diverse backgrounds delivered through ground-breaking intervention methods which educate, empower, build resilience and promote participation in civic society.

Uk subjects of the resource:

Billy McCurrie was 12 years old when his father was killed by the IRA. Consumed with anger, Billy joined the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) at 16, and a year later was ordered to kill. Sentenced to life at 17, Billy spent 10 years in the Maze Prison and it was there that a Christmas Eve reading of the crucifixion story changed his life. Feeling guilt for his crime for the first time, Billy repented and rediscovered God, becoming one of the first prisoners to renounce violence before eventually being released. Today, Billy works as a Baptist pastor in Ormskirk, near Liverpool, and shares his story to prevent other young people from going down the same path.

Adam Deen was previously a senior member of the Islamist extremist organisation, al-Muhajiroun, and utilised universities himself as a key source for recruitment. Adam became disillusioned with his extremist beliefs and began a journey away from Islamist extremism. Adam now dedicates his work to countering extremism and the Islamist ideology he once subscribed to, which he believes tarnishes the beauty of the Islam. In 2012, Adam founded the Deen Institute, which teaches Muslims critical thinking skills and increases awareness of Islam’s rich intellectual heritage. He has spoken at over 40 university campuses across the UK and has debated with prominent academics on issues surrounding religious philosophy and theology. He frequently appears on mainstream TV including the BBC and has debated at the Oxford Union.

(c) 2016 Extreme Dialogue is a consortium led initiative by the Institute of Strategic Dialogue, the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace and Duckrabbit.  The initiative is funded by Public Safety Canada and the European Commission.  In Europe, the consortium is supported by partners including: the West London Initiative in the UK, Cultures Interactive in Germany and Political Capital in Hungary.