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New help for parents in tackling extremism

By Eleanor Levy, Parent Zone editor

The Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, was at the Bethnal Green Academy in East London today (19 January 2016) to launch the government's latest initiative aimed at fighting online radicalisation. is a website designed to helping families and teachers protect children and young people from extremism of all types. One aim, explained Nicky Morgan, is to show parents how radicalisation happens, flag up the warning signs and then advise them who to turn to if they are worried their child is becoming involved.

Bethnal Green Academy knows better than most schools what can happen when pupils are attracted to what Nicky Morgan described as 'twisted ideologies'. Three of its pupils made headlines last year when they ran away to Syria to become so-called 'jihadi brides'.

The school's principal Mark Keary (above) told the audience in his opening address, 'We still don't know who or what influenced these girls... but I've seen the effect on their families, on their friends, on their teachers. It's not something I would ever want to witness again.'

He supported the launch of the website as a useful resource to prevent extremists 'putting poison in the mind and hatred in the hearts of impressionable young people.'

This theme was returned to by both Nicky Morgan and Security minister John Hayes, who argued that the new site will 'prevent the narrowing of minds by opening eyes,' and emphasised the role the government feels teachers should play. 'Good schools have always done this,' he said. 

Nicky Morgan (above) also made clear the government's determination to close and prosecute unlicenced and illegal schools, saying the government had a responsibility to stop educators making 'a concentrated attempt to limit young people's world views.'

She also defended the government's controversial Prevent strategy, which has been criticised in some quarters for forcing teachers to report children who show signs of holding non-violent extremist views.

Ms Morgan argued, 'Prevent is not about shutting down debate in schools, but opening it up.'

* Parent Zone was one of the organisations consulted by the government prior to the launch of and we welcome this initiative to help parents cope with such a difficult subject. The site contains useful information and resources for families and teachers, though we would welcome more information and advice from parents, teachers and young people themselves who have had to deal with this issue. Maybe something for the future?

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