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Teaching approaches that help to build resilience to extremism among young people

Thursday 12 June 2014

This report presents the findings from a large-scale, in-depth research study into teaching methods – knowledge, skills, teaching practices and behaviours – that help to build resilience to extremism. The focus is on teaching methods to be used in a general classroom setting rather than as part of interventions targeted at those deemed at risk of extremism.

The research methods used were 10 in-depth case studies of relevant projects and interventions, including interviews with teachers, practitioners and students and classroom observation, a literature review conducted according to systematic principles, and close engagement with 20 academic and other experts in the field.

The study was commissioned by the former Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF), now the Department for Education (DfE), with support from the Home Office. OPM conducted the research in partnership with the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), which is the UK’s largest independent provider of research, assessment and information services for education, training and children’s services.

The primary aim of the research was to provide a strong evidence base for schools and other education providers to help them adopt and commission the appropriate interventions to build resilience to extremism.

Following detailed analysis and synthesis of findings from the case study visits, together with findings from the literature review, we identified a number of key ingredients which were important for resilience-building teaching activities. Taken together, these ingredients help to counteract the impact of factors that can help to either push or pull young people towards extremism and / or violent extremism, such as a sense of injustice or feelings of exclusion.

The key ingredients can be clustered under three headings:

1. making a connection through good design and a young-person centred approach

2. facilitating a safe space for dialogue and positive interaction

3. equipping young people with appropriate capabilities – skills, knowledge, understanding and awareness.