Teachers ‘scared’ to teach lessons on 9/11
SCHOOLS are scared to teach children about the 9/11 attacks because they fear a backlash from Muslim parents, an expert in counter-extremism claims.
Kamal Hanif, who was appointed by the Government to turn around three schools at the heart of the “Trojan Horse” scandal, said that some teachers had a “misplaced” concern that they will cause offence if they raise the subject of 9/11 in the classroom.
He said particularly those who work in schools with a high proportion of Muslim students see it as a contentious topic and shy away from discussing it.
“Teachers sometimes have a fear that … if we teach about this we might get Muslim parents objecting.”
Mr Hanif, executive principal of Waverley Education Foundation, advised the Department for Education (DfE) on combating counter-extremism in schools. He said their fears had no basis. “It is based on their stereotypical view of a community as opposed to the reality. It is very misplaced.”
Mr Hanif is a trustee for the educational charity Since 9/11, which provides free teaching resources about the attacks and their aftermath. The resources are for secondary schoolchildren, but the charity is developing a material for primary schools.
Sir Steve Lancashire, chief executive of a multi academy trust which is piloting the materials in its 55 primary schools, said teachers do feel “uncomfortable” about the legacy of 9/11. “We need to address the nervousness of teachers to teach this kind of subject,” he said. “Teachers don’t feel well equipped on facts – there are a lot of conspiracy theories; a lot of misinformation”.
Lord Nash, the schools minister, said teaching 9/11 and its aftermath at school was crucial to prevent children being groomed by extremists. “Our job is to ensure that our children are educated in school so that they are less likely to be radicalised outside of school,” he said.
He said that while some teachers are keen to have an “open discussion” about it, others “don’t want to go there”.
He said: “I can understand why it is not easy but we do need to go there.”
Peter Rosengard, the founder of Since 9/11, said an “overwhelming majority” of teachers were interested in teaching it to their students.