01 April 2016

'Freedom of speech is ending where conversations about Islam begin. Teachers and students are walking on eggshells'

Children are being brainwashed into holding extremist views in illegal madrassas, preached at by hate-filled imams and subtly encouraged to isolate themselves. What chance does the average teacher have of changing that pattern, asks this history teacher

On 17 February 2015, three teenage girls – Kadiza Sultana, 16, Shamima Begum, 15, and Amira Abase, 15 (pictured) – equipped with handbags and wearing make-up, casually wandered into Gatwick airport. They had, allegedly, taken jewellery from their families to buy some air tickets. They were flying out to Turkey and intended to go on to Syria.

It was only a few weeks earlier that the girls had been posing for selfies and having a laugh with their mates. But now their intention was clear: to join the so-called Islamic State (IS), along with the 550 other women from Western Europe who have chosen to do the same thing.

Before their departure, the girls were students at Bethnal Green Academy, a school investigated last year as part of a counter-extremism operation. In March 2015, a judge in London confiscated the passports of a further five girls from the same school, as they had expressed a desire to go to Syria. [TES] Read more