When a young teenager in secondary school delivered a short presentation on the concept of an “Islamic state”, he wanted to dispel the media narratives of Isis – but was reported to Prevent instead.
XX’s presentation was held during form time, and the class, including the tutor, enjoyed the presentation – it included topics such as architecture, civilisation, and public administration in an Islamic society.
The teacher went further and sent a letter home, congratulating the parents on their son’s fantastic presentation on the concept of the historical “Islamic state”.
However, a few days later, the head of year heard about the presentation from another source and took issue with it, calling the student into her office, and asking, ‘Do you know what extremism means’?
Moreover, the head of year, made a telephone call to XX’s family to say they had concerns about the presentation and had contacted the Sutton Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).
Sutton MASH requested that a Prevent referral be made to social services. This referral was triggered by the school’s safeguarding officer’s recommendation, and not by the form tutor.
Consequently, the parents were asked whether they wanted to have their son enrolled on a voluntary Channel programme, but the parents did not provide consent.
This case is on-going, as the social services and local council have not contacted the family since.
This case establishes how even though teachers are the closest to students, all academic staff are monitoring student’s opinions and worldviews.
A Prevent referral can be made simply due to pressure to be soon to be “doing something” since Prevent is linked to safeguarding, which impacts Ofsted ratings.
It also shows how a climate of fear exists around the opinions of Muslim students, even where those opinions are well expressed and legal.
This is even and especially when the intention and outcome both amount to a better understanding of Islamic concepts such as an “Islamic state” in the classroom despite surrounding hate-filled narratives.
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