|ISSUE 58 AUTUMN 2008
- in memoriam
There seems no end to this government passion for authoritarian and quasi-military control.
The Davies report (see PM 57) was a paean to all things military including a strong recommendation for a substantial expansion of Cadet Forces; this is now beginning to happen. Derek Twigg, Under Secretary of State for Defence, said, thanks to a new scheme, more school children will now have the opportunity to feel the benefits of the cadet system, building discipline, respect and professionalism.
Schools minister Lord Adonis said: ‘Cadets can be a real force for good in our schools.’ The experience will ‘encourage valuable personal attributes, help to build skills and, using military themes based upon the culture and ethos of the single Services, foster confidence, self reliance, initiative, resourcefulness, loyalty and a sense of service to others.’ Hmmm
Now schools are to be put at the heart of the government's anti-terrorist threats
The draft versions of the guidance to teachers only mentioned Islamist extremism - al-Qaida in particular - but was amended to include far-right groups after complaints from teaching unions. Similar guidance issued to lecturers in universities caused a storm after unions claimed they were being asked to spy on their students. There was particular objection to the emphasis on Muslim students and the guidance was revised to refer to all extremist views.
Teaching bodies are ambivalent Mary Bousted, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: ‘… teachers are not trained to deal with radicalisation. We're not spy-catchers.’
Christine Blower, of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘… it is vital that teachers are able to discuss with and listen to pupils without feeling that they have to report every word.’
Chris Keates of the NASUWT has no doubts: ‘All schools need an unequivocal commitment to dealing with all forms of extremism, to providing information and training to staff, pupils and parents, to monitor systematically all incidents and trends, and to take decisive and effective action whenever problems arise.’