Teaching Approaches That Help to Build Resilience to Extremism Among Young People

David Kerr, Rowena Passy, Joe Bonnell, Phil Copestake, Chris Reed, Rachel Salter, Shama Sarwar, Sanah Sheikh

26 May 2011

Research report available to download from DfE

Research brief available to download from DfE

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 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.

Whatever the setting and resources available, the principles of good design and facilitation - the first two of the three - are crucial and non-negotiable. This research suggests that a well-designed, well-facilitated intervention will go a long way to building resilience. To be more confident of longer-term, sustainable resilience, however, an additional focus is needed, over and above good design and facilitation, on building ‘harder’ skills, knowledge, understanding and awareness, including practical tools and techniques for personal resilience.

The study was commissioned by the former DCSF, now the DfE, with support from the Home Office. The Office for Public Management (OPM), conducted the research in partnership with the NFER.

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