Row emerges after anti-Muslim literature used to ‘teach pupils about bias’

Oaks Park High School's headteacher Steve Wilks making a speech.

Oaks Park High School's headteacher Steve Wilks making a speech. - Credit: Archant

A school has defended using far-right literature in Year 8 English lessons after it came under fire on social media.

Vaseem Ahmed from MEND. Picture: MEND Newham

Vaseem Ahmed from MEND. Picture: MEND Newham - Credit: Archant

Oaks Park High School, Oaks Lane, Newbury Park, issued a statement after users on social media criticised the decision and posted pictures of the material.

The images showed an article written by Dr George Whale, a member of the “radical patriotic conservative” political party Liberty GB, called Ten Reasons Why Britain Should Not Accept Syrian Refugees.

The article cites reasons such as “some Muslim children grow up to become terrorists” and “the more we allow in, the more will come”.

Reacting on Twitter, @sy_ed1 said: “Grotesquely irresponsible, unacceptable and I demand the school issue an apology.”

@n_azof added: “Omg that’s so awful. [It is] so difficult to raise good Muslim kids in such scenarios.”

But @adambanksdotcom said: “That would be the point of this kind of exercise – to question the writer’s motivation and see the implications.”

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The school’s headteacher Steve Wilks said the material was used to demonstrate bias in writing and “show a point of view that was extremely biased”.

“The views contained within the article were not endorsed or supported by the teacher, but rather quoted as part of the lesson,” he added.

The school said it was about “empowering pupils” to separate truth and lies, with the pupils writing letters to the author arguing their views as part of the exercise.

But Vaseem Ahmed, coordinator for Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) in Redbridge, slammed the school for exposing children as young as 12 to “Islamophobic” material.

“If a similar article was cited in a school with the target being another faith community or if the teacher had decided to show the class an anti-Western piece from the likes of Daesh, there rightly would have been an uproar,” he said.

“How can one share such material with young, impressionable children as a responsible adult, let alone a teacher?

“We should be teaching kids about the dangers of anti-semitism, Islamophobia and all other forms of racism and discrimination, let alone giving airtime to such views.”