Academy chain considers ‘peace studies’ at GCSE

Plan to put ‘peace’ in school’s curriculum in an effort to challenge the rise of religious extremism

One of the largest academy chains in the country is considering plans to introduce “peace studies” at GCSE in a bid to tackle the rise of religious extremism.

The move by Oasis multi-academy trust, which runs 44 schools, is part of a wider programme that it hopes will make young people “immune” to the lure of religious extremists, gang culture and violence.

The initiative, called Inspire, has been developed in tandem with a book written by Oasis’ founder, Baptist minister the Rev Steve Chalke.

As part of its approach – and in an effort to meet its statutory duties through the government’s Prevent strategy – the trust said it had placed “peace” on the curriculum in a “very explicit way”.

Promoting ‘belonging’

And in a statement announcing a new initiative to combat radicalism among its schools, Oasis said it hoped to create a discrete subject for peace at GCSE.

“Concentrating initially on embedding peace within the subject areas of the existing curriculum, the aspiration is to explore developing a peace studies GCSE as a subject in its own right, should this be deemed appropriate,” the trust said.

The chain’s Inspire programme builds on the Rev Chalke’s philosophy and calls for the need to “radicalise every young person” with a story of “belonging, identity, self-worth and purpose”.

The philanthropist said the initiative came about because of his belief that there was a failure in the government’s anti-radicalisation approach.

The Rev Chalke said: “You can’t kill an evil ideology by taking down a person, a thousand people, or even ten thousand people. If we are going to overcome the escalating problem of extremism and terrorism that our world faces, we need a different answer. We need to find a narrative that is radical enough to turn the tide.

“The problem is that our suggested counter-extremism and counter-terrorism solutions just don’t make this connection at the moment. As a result, they fail to get to the heart of things. Instead of tackling the roots – the fundamentals – of the issue, they attempt to deal with the symptoms of its growth. In a phrase, they are just not radical enough.”

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