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02.12.2015

New poll shows support for social integration in schools

A new YouGov poll shows 64% support school pupils mixing with children from different ethnic and faith backgrounds.

The poll – conducted after the Paris terrorist attacks – reveals public support for the promotion of social integration for school pupils, with 64% of UK adults agreeing that ‘every school child should participate in group activities with children from different faith/ ethnic backgrounds to their own, either in school and/ or in their local community.’

The charity’s co-founder Jon Yates argues that in the aftermath of the atrocities in Paris, missing from the public debate is what needs to be done to tackle home-grown radicalisation ‘upstream’. Yates argues that promoting ‘social integration’ within our school system should be at the very heart of Louise Casey’s review into radicalisation.

Yates said that in light of the fact that the perpetrators of terrorist attacks on London in 2005 and Paris in January and November 2015 were home-grown, we must face up to this ‘uncomfortable truth’.

David Cameron identified social integration as one of the four parts of his ‘full spectrum response’ in his counter-extremism strategy. He said that ‘we need to look again… at how we can move away from segregated schooling in our most divided communities’.

The nationwide poll also reveals:

  • In London, support is marginally higher than nationally, with 66% agreeing with the statement.
  • Results for Scotland show support for the statement rising to 75%;
  • Support is 10% higher for women compared to men, at 69% and 59% respectively.

Yates calls on the government to emulate the policy of ‘Shared Education’, pioneered in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Executive’s Shared Education Programme places an obligation on the NI Education Department to encourage, facilitate and promote Shared Education across the school system.

Our school system is one of the most segregated in the developed world. It cannot be right that children are growing up and not mixing with children from different faith and ethnic backgrounds.

We must face up to the uncomfortable truth that radicalisation is a home-grown occurrence and ask ourselves what is behind the process that leads from segregation, to isolation to violence?

We’re not starting from scratch, so we need to think what we can do to promote social integration within the school system that already exists. For lessons, we should look to Northern Ireland and its Shared Education Programme, where schools form partnerships and share facilities so that children from different backgrounds interact with pupils different to themselves – interaction which otherwise would not take place. We need to shake-up our insular school system, to ensure that we can target isolation and radicalisation upstream.

Jon Yates

You can read Jon’s blog here.

The YouGov poll was commissioned by The Challenge. Total sample size was 2092 UK adults of which 235 are from London and 219 from Scotland. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th November – 20th November 2015.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).