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‘It starts in the classroom’

March 2, 2015 | Nick Taylor

‘It starts in the classroom’ – Manchester brings together European education experts to tackle violent extremism.

The City of Manchester (England, UK) is to host an event bringing together 90 leading education specialists from across Europe to consider the pernicious effects of radicalisation that can lead young people to violent extremism.

This event is organised as part of the European Union Radicalisation Awareness Network (EU RAN), a group, set up under a strand of the EU Counter-Terrorism strategy, of first-line local practitioners that facilitates the exchange of experiences and best practices across member states

The event is convened to respond to the growing number of young people who are falling prey to extremism and the mounting pressure on schools, colleges and universities to respond.

North West England based charity, the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace is supporting the event and will be demonstrating its programmes and media resources to educators from across the EU. The Foundation is a specialist in engaging young people to help them think critically and prevent them become embroiled in organisations or causes that use violence to further their aims.

The Foundation will be part of a delegation that will be asked to endorse a manifesto, to influence policy and decision makers.

Kelly Simcock, Director of Commissions at the Foundation for Peace and the UK host said: “The departure of three young women from East London to a new life in the so called ‘Islamic State’ last month was a stark reminder of the way that this conflict continues to twist in ways that we could never have imagined.

“The thoughts that lead to violent extremism start early on the playground and in classrooms and through social networks.

“Never before have we faced such a challenge as the world wakes up to the reality of our young people falling prey to extremism and the pressure is mounting on educators to skill themselves up and be ready to respond.”

Speakers at the conference will draw together academics, subject experts and policy makers to consider subjects such as the challenge of right wing extremism in Europe and the latest thinking on ‘jihadism’ and what this means for pupils and schools. The digital threats in relation to young people and how extremism arises will be examined as well as considering how Government policy needs to change to support schools and colleges.

The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace will demonstrate how they are developing ‘prevention education’ to counter radicalisation and engage young people’s critical thinking capabilities to challenge extremism.

The conference takes place at Manchester Central convention centre on Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th March 2015 and will attract 90 delegates from across the EU.

Whilst in the North West, the delegates will visit the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Centre in Warrington.

The media are welcome at the start of the event to meet and interview some of the key experts.

This conference comes at a critical time as the threat of violent conflict is hugely escalated and topical with terrorism, extremism and radicalisation challenging our society. The relationships between the challenge and the education sector has never been greater and the north west England based Foundation for Peace is taking the lead in hosting this conference to gain expert thinking to take a best practice based proposal to EU Ministers later in March to stimulate urgent action across EU member states including the United Kingdom.

This is the media’s chance to gain real expert input, comment and hear the latest thinking to challenge extremism aimed at young people in education.

A press call will take place at 11:00 GMT on Tuesday 3rd March 2015 at Manchester Central.

The following people are available for interview:

KELLY SIMCOCK – Director of Commissions at the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace and one of the leading professionals in the field of prevention education challenging extremism and radicalisation.

PÉTER KREKÓ – Director of the Budapest-based Political Capital Policy Research and Consulting Institute, assistant professor of psychology at the Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences.

OMAR RAMADAN – Director at Netherlands company RADAR – a leading consultancy working to the European Commission and managing the EU’s Radicalisation Awareness Network (see below).

A variety of other speakers will be available including a local Head teacher from Manchester, members of the various Departments for Education from cities and member states.

This event is part of the European Union Radicalisation Awareness Network (EU RAN), a group, set up under a strand of the EU Counter-Terrorism strategy, of first-line local practitioners that facilitates the exchange of experiences and best practices across member states.