Extremism strategy to put madrassas under closer scrutiny

By Neil Puffett

| 19 October 2015

The Department for Education (DfE) will develop a new system to intervene in unofficial Islamic schools where there are concerns about the way children are being taught, it has been announced.

Cameron said defeating Islamist extremism will be “the struggle of our generation”. Picture: Number 10

The government's Counter-Extremism Strategy, launched by Prime Minister David Cameron today, reveals that “unregulated education settings which teach children intensively”, such as madrassas, will be monitored more closely.

“We know that many people in our country find this education to be of great benefit to their families,” the strategy states.

“However, there are concerns that some supplementary schools may be teaching children views which run contrary to our shared values, encouraging hatred of other religions.”

The strategy states that the system of intervention will apply if there are concerns about the safety or welfare of the children attending them, including from extremism.

“This will provide for the registration of settings so that they can be inspected and will introduce appropriate sanctions to protect children,” the strategy states.

The DfE was unable to provide any detail of exactly how the system might work or when it will be introduced.

The strategy also contains provisions to allow parents of 16- and 17-year-olds who are at risk of travelling abroad to areas under the control of extremists to be able to apply to have their passports removed. Previously the step was only available to parents of under-16s.

And it will also strengthen the role of the Disclosure and Barring Service to ensure anyone with a conviction or civil order for terrorist or extremist activity is automatically banned from working with children and vulnerable people.

Prime Minister David Cameron said defeating Islamist extremism will be “the struggle of our generation”.

“It is one of the biggest social problems we need to overcome,” he said. “We know that extremism is really a symptom; ideology is the root cause – but the stakes are rising and that demands a new approach.

“The government’s new Counter-Extremism Strategy is a clear signal of the choice we have made to take on this poisonous ideology with resolve, determination and the goal of a building a greater Britain.

“And a key part of this new approach is going further to protect children and vulnerable people from the risk of radicalisation by empowering parents and public institutions with all the advice, tools and practical support they need.”

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