Children are being encouraged to imagine they are suicide bombers plotting the July 7 attacks as part of the Government's strategy to combat violent extremism.The exercise is part of a teaching pack aimed at secondary school pupils that has been adopted by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. It requires children to prepare a presentation on the July 7 atrocity – in which 52 innocent people died – "from the perspective of the bombers". They are asked to summarise the reasons why they thought the bombers wanted to carry out their attacks and even suggest some more. It has been produced by Calderdale council in Halifax, West Yorks, which borders the area where two of the July 7 bombers lived, and has been adopted by schools and even police forces across the country. The pack, which is called "Things do Change", is intended as a way of addressing issues such as terrorism and suicide bombing through the national curriculum.Now I can almost forgive it being used by one local authority and put it down to an unfortunate lapse of judgement. But what the hell are the police doing using it, let alone Islamic schools?
The pack was made available through a Government-sponsored website called www.teachernet.gov.uk A section entitled "Community Cohesion" requires pupils to "prepare a brief presentation on the 7/7 bombings from the perspective of the bombers".
After watching a DVD from the pack, which costs £200, the class is supposed to be split into four, with one group asked to adopt the perspective of the bombers. Sail Suleman, the author of the pack, told the Times Educational Supplement : "We're looking at why people become extreme. Why do young people go out and do what the bombers did? Was it pressure from individuals they were hanging out with? Hopefully, we'll encourage pupils to stay away from those individuals."
Other groups are asked to imagine the bombings from the perspectives of Muslims in Britain, non-Muslim Asians and British people in general. The teaching pack is already being used in Islamic schools and mosques in West Yorkshire, as well as in local authority-run schools.
A number of other authorities, including Birmingham, Sandwell in the West Midlands and Lancashire, have begun using it in schools and several police forces, including the Metropolitan, West Yorkshire, Thames Valley and Greater Manchester, have adopted it.
Apparently it was withdrawn from the Teachernet website yesterday. I'd love to know how it got there in the first place. Didn't someone, somewhere along the line question whether this was appropriate? Clearly not.