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Rules to fight extremism 'creating fear among teachers and pupils'
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, Jenny Smith, headteacher at Frederick Bremer school in Walthamstow, east London, put up a display of press cuttings and photographs. Students, many of whom are Muslims, were invited to add their comments. Discussions about the Islamic State attack were held in citizenship classes. Then, in December, pupils put on a shadow puppet performance in the borough about injustice and prejudice faced by a young Muslim. The performance was part of an exhibition organised by Maslaha, an organisation working with schools to explore Islam's contribution to UK culture.
Smith's approach seems in marked contrast to the government's policy to prevent radicalisation, which places increasing pressure on schools, through its Prevent strategy, to be vigilant and report suspicions about students.
After the Trojan horse affair in 2014, when allegations were made that Islamists were trying to take over some Birmingham schools, the Department for Education responded by insisting schools instil a stronger sense of "British values" in pupils. Last summer, schools became legally required to prevent pupils being drawn into terrorism. Just before Christmas, education secretary Nicky Morgan announced plans for a further toughening of the rules, demanding that schools monitor pupils' internet usage.
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