How to make a safe classroom for all children
With the siege on Gaza (October 2023), young people across the UK have witnessed the killing of thousands of Palestinians. Senior UN staff and human rights organisations have called this a collective punishment and therefore a war crime.
We have seen that when young people but specifically Muslim, Black and brown students have shown solidarity with Palestine in school, they have been disciplined through exclusions, detentions, and Prevent referrals.
We created these strategies with teachers and young people on how to make safe spaces to learn, where students can bring their curiosity and full authentic selves, rather than be punished and censored.
The Department of Education letter of guidance to schools did not provide enough support for teachers to navigate conversations about the siege of Gaza. It rightly mentions the killing of Jewish civilians and the pain this has caused, but ignores completely the disproportionate response to this by the Israeli Government. In fact, it does not even mention the word Palestinian.
The guidance also focuses on policing children and making referrals to Prevent, which further silences the grief of students who are witnessing the bombing of Gaza. Instead of helping teachers to create safe classrooms, the Department of Education guidance seeks to create divisions between communities.
Teachers are lacking resources to be able to engage in these discussions in a critical way, where children are not censoring themselves for fear of being punished. Prevent, exclusions and detentions are not the answer. Schools are meant to be places of expression and learning, not over-policing.
What We Did
We worked with teachers and young people to create these cards containing different strategies that teachers can use instead of punishing students for engaging in political discussions around Palestine. Download the printable A4 version here.