The story of HOPE not hate’s education work

Education is one of the fundamentals of HOPE not hate’s work. Our Deputy Director Jemma Levene explains more.

Our Education Unit was formally launched in 2016, and since then we have worked with schools to train teachers and with students to challenge prejudice, reaching nearly 90,000 students across the UK.

The work we deliver in schools has its roots in a community organising approach. Our aim is not just to educate students about prejudice and stereotyping, but also to be a catalyst towards positive behavioural change in schools across the UK, which can act as a springboard towards a more inclusive society.

The overarching aim of the Unit is to enable students to have a holistic understanding of how discrimination works, both in manifestation and in its continuation, and to challenge them on how they can play a role in breaking it.

CPD Training for teachers

As well as educating students directly, we run CPD (continued professional development) training for thousands of teachers each year. Lockdown pushed us to develop online delivery at times that teachers could most easily fit into their day, which has seen a dramatic increase in the number of teachers able to access our material. Teachers are particularly keen to learn about contemporary and extremist threats, how to spot signs of radicalisation and how to engage productively with students about whom they have concerns.

Addressing online radicalisation

Our Education team works closely with our researchers, reporting on trends spotted in the classroom, and learning the most up to date ideas and groups circulating in far right spaces online and off, particularly where there is a risk of teenagers becoming attracted to violent extremist groups.

We have a safeguarding guide, Signs of HATE, which we have sent to safeguarding leads in every secondary school in England, providing essential information on the dangers of far-right radicalisation which have dramatically increased while young people spent so much time isolated and online during the pandemic.

Addressing Misogyny

We knew, both from past polling, and from feedback from our education team, that young people would be particularly hard hit by the pandemic and by the rise in conspiracy theories, which led us in 2020 to commission polling of 16-24 year-olds, from which we produced an in depth Fear and HOPE report specifically about young people. We received input from EVAW, the TUC, Coram, Galop, Mind, Reclaim and Glitch! The sections of the report addressing attitudes around feminism also had a lot of pick up from women’s sector groups like Young Women’s Trust and Fawcett.

In response to the Youth Fear and HOPE report, we have further developed content addressing gender and misogyny, including our in depth workshop on day-to-day sexism, which is perhaps our most challenging content for students to absorb, but sadly vitally needed.

Feedback, awards and acclaim

Our Education work is award winning!

In February 2020 we were awarded Outstanding Contribution to Citizenship Education at the Royal Wootton Basset Academy/UCL gala dinner. This is THE gala dinner for teachers who deliver Holocaust education and in the speech it was noted that our education work was not undertaken in isolation but backed up by first class research.

Our teaching materials on preventing radicalisation are featured on the Department for Education’s Educate Against Hate site, and their feedback on our resource was that it was the most useful material they had seen addressing radicalisation into the far right, and the most likely to have an impact among vulnerable young people.

What do teachers say about us?

“The information was detailed, relevant and well-delivered. Staff have responded enthusiastically to the session describing it as “eye opening”, “fascinating and worrying in equal measure”, and “the best visiting CPD session we have had”. It has been great to witness the immediate impact the session has had on staff: they have had conversations reflecting on instances from last year and discussing how they will respond differently in future.”

Mr Bentley, The Boswells School

“Relevance to our students, interactivity and excellent examples to illustrate your point. It also linked very well to what year 9 did earlier in the year and what year 8 will go on to next half term. I’m sad to say that harmful language appears in some of our students’ everyday dialogue. These sessions were an excellent starting point to change this.”

Ms Conn-Pearson, Birches Head Academy


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