The Sunday Telegraph

School history lessons may fuel extremism, warn counter-terrorism officers

- By Craig Simpson

SCHOOL history lessons have been investigat­ed by Prevent officers over fears that Britain’s past could fuel farRight extremism, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

The counter-terrorism programme has been used by Derby City Council in response to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement to audit how history is being taught in local secondary and primary schools.

Prevent officers feared certain readings of British history could cause “biases and misconcept­ions that may underpin far-Right extremism”, documents obtained by The Telegraph reveal.

A report by counter-terrorism staff expressed hopes that schools “developing the history curriculum” could “provide a more rounded view of history” and welcomed a “diversity of topics” spanning slavery and colonialis­m.

The internal report also welcomed teaching which provided an “alternativ­e view of history compared to the dominant white, male, heterosexu­al one”.

Prevent surveyed heads of all of Derby’s secondary schools and a small selection of primaries with a view to sharing best practice on the teaching of history. This cohesion is usually safeguarde­d by the Prevent duty within schools by protecting pupils from radicalisa­tion, through ideologies like Islamist extremism, and reaffirmin­g shared British values.

In Derby, Prevent officers began an audit of curriculum­s in the wake of BLM protests to assess their diversity, and the audit notes the “creative” ways in which this was achieved, including teaching about the BLM movement, decolonisa­tion and the slave trade.

Pupils, the report notes, were also taught the toppling of Edward Colston’s statue, Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech and the medieval Crusades. Teaching was opposed to the “sometimes blindly patriotic perspectiv­es that might have been commonplac­e until recently”, the report states, as teachers showed a desire to offer “a more realistic version of history”. A conference sharing best practice on the teaching of history is planned for autumn 2021, following the work of Prevent.

The use of a counter-extremism programme to probe history lessons was last night condemned by former security minister Sir John Hayes, who fears the programme is being used “for malevolent and ideologica­l purposes”.

He told The Sunday Telegraph: “Prevent in no way should be used to interfere with the school curriculum. That can never be justified.”

The Department for Education echoed the former minister’s position on the uses of Prevent. A government spokesman called the work “inappropri­ate”.

Derby City Council said the report was “not a criticism or endorsemen­t of any single view of the current history curriculum”.

‘Prevent in no way should be used to interfere with the school curriculum. That can never be justified’

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