Students at The Nottingham Emmanuel School welcomed a number of visitors in to school for a debate called #noplaceforhate which explored the impact of prejudice and intolerance in today’s society.
The event was organised by Teacher, Alice Carlisle (PSHE and Citizenship Co-ordinator). “We wanted our young people to explore some highly controversial topics in a safe space, supported by experts, in a carefully planned, thought provoking series of workshops. The students had the opportunity to learn about hate crime, islamophobia, extremism, terrorism, radicalisation and prejudice during the event. They were encouraged to speak openly and ask questions, whilst taking care not to offend anyone.
“We heard many personal stories throughout the day from the visitors and students, some which were not always easy to listen to, but which helped us all develop a deeper understanding of the underlying issues and impact on people’s lives.
The spirit of the day was captured well by one student who said, ‘Our generation should be educated about things like this in order to create a peaceful, tolerant society’. This is something we are committed to as a school and we hope to have more events like this in the future.”
Guest speaker Shannon Jackson and colleague Alisha Hanif are from the University of Nottingham student group, Immigration Education Nottingham. Shannon said, “We hope that students will gain a different perspective and that the speakers’ personal stories will create an empathy and understanding of the effect of hate crime.”
Colleague Alisha spoke to students about her own experiences of Islamophobia. “I think hearing my story first hand may have shocked some students, especially at the level of fear and anxiety these attitudes can create. I hope my story shines a light on a difficult subject and I think these are conversations we need to have, in order to effect a change for the better.”
Lee Scondis, of ‘Hope not hate’ charity says students need to develop a sense of critical thinking when responding to stories in the media. “We must all learn to scrutinise news articles and think for ourselves, so our workshops looked at bias in reporting, especially across media outlets.” Colleague Owen Jones says he hopes students will take away an understanding of how to differentiate between news sources.
“These students have access to so much information and that’s great. Today we tried to show them how to access reliable information, spotting which is a good source of information from a bad source, and holding that information to account.”
Bilal Hussain from Nottingham-Citizens has high hopes for the future through workshops and discussions tackling these issues. “We want to look at changing the landscape and getting rid of hate crime within a generation. Days like this, in schools like this, can lead to national change and I would urge students to seek out, and hang out, with others who might be different from them. When they come together, and pull in the same direction, they can tackle issues as deep rooted as hate crime and intolerance.”