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Monday, 15 October, 2001, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Advice for schools on war
Missiles
Children will have questions about the conflict
Schools are to receive official advice on how they should be addressing pupils' concerns about the conflict in Afghanistan.

The Department for Education and Skills is currently finalising guidance which will be sent to all schools later this week.

This could address issues such as how pupils' anxieties might be allayed and how the conflict can be presented in a way that does not blame any particular religion or ethnic community.

Veiled girl
Teachers have warned that Muslim pupils could feel threatened by the conflict

A government spokesperson says that teachers have been behaving responsibly and exercising their professional judgement in tackling questions about the conflict.

And the guidelines to be distributed by the education department will offer extra advice and support.

In the wake of the attacks on the United States and in the subsequent air strikes against Afghanistan, head teachers have reported that some children have been upset by the images of conflict.

A head teachers' leader, Russell Clarke, has said that school assemblies will have been used as forums to reassure pupils and to explain the origins of the war.

"Schools can be stabilising influences, they can steady nerves and put matters into context," said Mr Clarke, deputy general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association.

'Scared'

There have also been concerns about Muslim pupils feeling isolated and intimidated by the conflict.

Bob Dowling, head of George Dixon secondary school in Edgbaston, Birmingham, had reported the anxieties of his Muslim students, which had been exacerbated by incidents or name-calling in the street.

"The kids were genuinely scared - there was a fear the community was under siege and all those who weren't white would be targeted," he said.

Teaching the origins of the war in history lessons has been made more difficult by artificial barriers in the curriculum, an historian has suggested.

Sean Lang, a former history teacher and school text book author, has argued that history as a subject in school must be allowed to cover the recent past if pupils are to understand current affairs.

But in most schools attempts would have been made to interpret and discuss the events which have dominated news coverage for the past month.


Key stories

Background

War view

TALKING POINT

FORUM

SPECIAL REPORTS
See also:

08 Oct 01 | Education
Today's assembly is about war
18 Sep 01 | Education
What did we tell the children?
08 Oct 01 | Education
Head reassures Muslim pupils
09 Oct 01 | Education
History 'not up to date enough'
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