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Political Extremism

Volume 478: debated on Thursday 26 June 2008

5. What progress has been made in his Department’s further education consultation on promotion of shared values and counteracting violent extremism. (213865)

Our consultation on further education providers’ role in promoting community cohesion, fostering shared values and preventing violent extremism closed on 6 May. We have established a network of “champion principals” to work with us on the way forward. We will revise our guidance and work with the new Learning and Skills Improvement Service and other Government Departments to create resources and support that respond to the needs expressed in the consultation and reinforce partnership working.

I thank the Minister for that answer. One of the best ways to counter violent extremism is to encourage vigorous open debate. What is the Department doing to ensure that education providers enable such open debate to take place?

My hon. Friend makes an exceedingly important point, and the arguments the Secretary of State just outlined apply to both further and higher education. In academic freedom and free and open debate, we have one of the most powerful tools at our disposal to isolate and challenge the very small minority who advocate violent extremism. We must look for every opportunity within further education colleges to promote that. One initiative that I am very pleased we are taking forward is the allocation of £2 million in each of the next three years to develop materials to promote the citizenship education within our FE colleges that will help such debate take place.