Dr Alison Struthers from Warwick Law School is co-author of one of eight peer-reviewed papers published today by the Independent Commission for Countering Extremism
Dr Struthers and Dr Diane Webber, Visiting Fellow in the Center on National Security and the Law at Georgetown University, evaluate the effectiveness of teaching so-called “Fundamental British Values” in schools as a means to counter extremism
The papers were commissioned by Lead Commissioner Sara Khan as part of an ‘extensive national conversation’ on extremism. The Commission will submit a report to the Home Secretary making recommendations as to future policy.
Critiquing Approaches to Countering Extremism: The Fundamental British Values Problem in English Formal Schooling by Dr Diane Webber and Dr Alison Struthers is one of eight peer-reviewed academic papers published today (31) by the Independent Commission for Countering Extremism.
Teaching fundamental British values in schools to deter and counter extremism is currently regarded as a central part of counter-terrorism policy.
In their paper, Dr Struthers and Dr Webber critique the current approach, highlight the more controversial aspects of the FBV agenda and point to other values frameworks which, they argue, are more suited to the role of combatting extremism within schooling.
Dr Webber found that only around 60 per cent of London schools affirm on their websites that they are teaching Fundamental British Values. Other values frameworks being taught in schools included faith-based frameworks and human rights-based values.
She said: “The scoping study examined the web sites of over 3,000 London primary and secondary schools, both state and independent, to see what those schools say that they are teaching in terms of values.
“Only about 60% of schools say that they are teaching about Fundamental British Values. A large proportion of schools say that they teach other values, of which the most commonly seen were respect, responsibility, resilience, aspiration, kindness and honesty.”
Dr Struthers said: “The ‘Fundamental British Values’ programme has been controversial since its introduction and has attracted criticism from educators, faith groups and academics.
“There is little consensus as to what ‘British Values’ actually are; some concern that they can be perceived as discriminatory against particular faith or ethnic communities; and doubt as to whether FBVs adequately equip learners to build their resilience against radicalisation.
“Through its participation in a number of international human rights organisations and frameworks the UK has already committed to teaching children about human rights and their underlying values.
“In our paper we argue that an education based around this human rights values would represent a more effective and appropriate framework for building resilience in schoolchildren, and one which would generate less controversy.”
The paper is one of eight being published today. They cover current thinking on the causes of extremism, the complex relationship between social media and extremism, as well as discussions on how to best counter extremism.
Lead Commissioner Sara Khan said:
“I’ve held the most extensive national conversation on extremism. It has lifted the lid on a range of urgent concerns we must address.”
“I’m releasing some of the findings as we build up to our landmark report on extremism.”
“To unite the country – and to protect our freedom and democratic principles – we have to address each of these issues.”
“Today, I am publishing eight academic papers covering the causes of extremism, social media and online extremism, and responses to extremism.
“I want to thank the authors of these academic papers for their work, and for their contribution to our national conversation on extremism.”