NUT votes to oppose Prevent

At its annual conference, held this year in Harrogate from 3 - 7 April, the NUT (National Union of Teachers) agreed a motion opposing the Government's Prevent strategy. The motion calls for school settings to be removed from the requirements of the Prevent legislation, and for the monitoring of "British Values" from the Ofsted remit.

The NUT is the UK's largest teachers' union and represents teachers in England and Wales. The majority of teachers in Scotland are represented by the EIS (Educational Institute of Scotland).

The full text of the resolution passed at this year's NUT Conference is as follows:

Racism, Migration and Islamophobia

Conference reaffirms policy adopted at Annual Conference 2013 expressing the view that the Union "defends the rights of all children and their families, regardless of immigration status, to have access to social housing, welfare services and in particular the NHS, free at the point of need. Conference condemns the attempts by politicians to scapegoat immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees for the economic problems of Britain which are the result of 'casino' economics and a refusal to invest in public services, housing, health, education and social welfare."

Conference reaffirms the Union’s commitment to opposing all forms of racism and xenophobia, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. Recognising the spread of anti-Semitism in Europe and the threats it poses in Britain, Conference reaffirms the Union’s involvement with the Holocaust Memorial Trust and work to commemorate acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing throughout the world.

Conference notes:

  1. The continuing rise in anti-migrant propaganda, which is being disseminated by much of the media, is largely based on myths that seek to lay the blame for national and local economic and social problems on migrants, rather than on the financial institutions and politicians who are bent on promoting austerity, tax cuts for the rich and privatisation of public services including the NHS;
  2. The growth of UKIP, a party funded by millionaires, in local elections and especially in the most recent European elections, where they came first, winning 27.5% of the vote;
  3. That the rise in support for UKIP and its anti-migrant policies has been mirrored across Europe, and that mainstream parties in this country have failed to challenge these policies, leading to anti-migrant sentiments becoming widespread, and the legitimisation of racist and xenophobic attitudes;
  4. That UKIP's education policies threaten to undermine our vibrant, diverse multicultural education system as they seek to ramp up privatisation and reintroduce selective education and grammar schools. Their mantra of 'putting England first' threatens the support currently given to refugee and migrant children, to undermine EAL provision and to remove the human rights of the children of migrants;
  5. That anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim propaganda has been used to stir up racial hatred and Islamophobia, for example around the issues of child abuse, and in the use of Ofsted to inspect schools suspected of promoting ‘extremism’; and
  6. That as part of the ‘war on terror’ there is talk of dealing with “non-violent extremism”, of banning the airing of “extremist views” and the increased use of deportations and the removal of citizenship.

Conference welcomes:

  1. The publication by a number of TUC Regions of a booklet laying out the facts on immigration;
  2. The inauguration of the Stand Up To UKIP campaign and its successful, diverse and loud demonstration held at UKIP's conference in September, backed by a broad coalition of MPS, anti-racists, community groups and trade unionists;
  3. The welcome comments of leading members of the NUT in opposing the poisonous influence of UKIP;
  4. The continuing support given by the NUT nationally and locally to campaigning against organizations such as the BNP and the EDL;
  5. The Union's continued sponsorship of Show Racism the Red Card and the excellent teaching resources on a range of topics including homophobia, the far right and Islamophobia.
  6. The continued work with and promotion of Unite Against Fascism (UAF), Searchlight and Hope Not Hate.

Conference instructs the Executive to:

  1. Reaffirm the Union’s policy agreed at Annual Conference 2013  to support “campaigns against racism, Islamophobia and against those seeking to scapegoat immigrants” producing appropriate material for members to explain our policies;
  2. Circulate the publication produced by a number of TUC regions which challenges the growing anti-migrant propaganda with an appropriate NUT introduction;
  3. Challenge in the national press, whenever possible statements and policies which run counter to Union policies and encourage divisions, associations and members to do so locally;
  4. Campaign for the maintaining or restoration of Ethnic Minority Achievement Teams within Local Authorities;
  5. Encourage members to invite speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds into their schools to speak in assemblies, staff meetings and so on;
  6. Continue to use our political fund to campaign against racist and fascist organisations in the run up to the general election;
  7. Encourage local associations to consider holding events aimed at promoting the work and resources of Show Racism the Red Card;
  8. Issue Union guidance and quality professional development on how to deal with controversial subject matter in classrooms to NUT members and seek to work with other unions and organisations including employers where possible; and
  9. Call on the next government to remove school settings from the requirements of the Prevent legislation and to remove the monitoring of “British Values” from the Ofsted remit.

Conference believes:

  1. That schools should be places where young people can discuss events in a spirit of enquiry and openness and that teachers are well placed to facilitate such discussions and deal with the expression of unacceptable viewpoints;
  2. That many teachers may feel uncertain about engaging in such discussions with students and may feel the need for guidance and quality professional development on how to do this;
  3. That the government's promotion of "British Values", the Prevent agenda and the use of Ofsted to monitor these is having the effect of closing down spaces for such discussion and that  many school staff are now unwilling to allow discussions in their classroom for fear of the consequences;
  4. Where schools have evidence that students may be vulnerable or at risk as a result of exposure to groups promoting violence or extremism that this should be dealt with under existing safeguarding procedures, rather than new procedures, which may require schools to report concerns directly to the Police or law enforcement agencies, which could have the effect of criminalising them.