In April 2005, a school in the North of England decided to run a mock general election. In the run-up students in citizenship classes worked on the election processes and nominated their own candidates to stand in the election. Parliamentary candidates from three mainstream parties (Labour, LibDem and Conservative) were invited in to coach the students on campaigning methods and the election process. When some parents and the local British National Party (BNP) candidate himself complained that the BNP had not been invited, the head was forced to answer claims that she was being undemocratic.
The dilemma she faced is one that many teachers recognise, especially, perhaps, in schools with many Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) students or where, in the locality, racial tensions are high. Where does the school’s duty lie here especially when the open discussion of policies and practices which some, but not all, regard as ‘racist’ appear to be in contradiction to the schools’ statutory duties to promote race equality and community cohesion?
This document, written by Billy Crombie and Don Rowe, attempts to set out the key issues and arguments in order to help schools arrive at a clear policy in relation to their response to extreme and radical groups. It also offers advice on useful methods to discuss such controversial issues in class.
Please be aware that this document represents the views of the authors and should not be taken as representative of government policy. For comments or questions about the content of this document please email firstname.lastname@example.org.