The pre-launch of the Council of Europe’s new campaign promoting democratic school culture, Free to Speak, Safe to Learn: Democratic Schools for All, took place at the Fundamental Rights Agency Forum in Vienna at the end of September.

The campaign aims to highlight the commitment to democratic values and principles in the life and culture of schools across Europe. It addresses topical issues, such as student voice, managing controversial issues, dealing with misinformation and fake news, preventing bullying and violence, and tackling discrimination.

Introducing the campaign in a breakout session, Snežana Samardžić-Marković, Director General of DG Democracy at the Council of Europe, spoke about the role of education in building inclusive and democratic societies. The session was moderated by Ted Huddleston, Young Citizens’ consultant, who also gave a presentation on the management of controversial issues at a whole-school level and what this implies for school leaders. The presentation focused on the use of the two practical manuals, Teaching Controversial Issues and Managing Controversial Issues, drawn up by an international team led by David Kerr and Ted Huddleston on behalf of Young Citizens.

The European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has its headquarters in Vienna. It is one of the EU’s decentralised agencies. It exists to protect the fundamental rights of all people living in the EU. The campaign, Free to Speak, Safe to Learn, will have its official launch on 14-16 November in Oslo, Norway, at the ten years’ celebratory conference of the European Wergeland Centre.

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