05:08PM, Monday 09 November 2015
More than fifty people attended a conference on radicalisation at Pinewood Hotel in Slough earlier today.
The audience of school representatives, councillors and local officials heard that Slough is classed as a high risk area for radicalisation and is identified by the Home Office's counter-terrorism strategy, Prevent, as a 'priority area'.
IQRA School founder and chair of governors, Zafar Ali, organised and spoke at the event.
He said that local schools needed to do more to understand the communities they are teaching in and the stereotypes that Muslims face.
Zafar said: "Do our schools do enough to get to know their communities? To reach out to parents, Islamic groups, non-Islamic groups, all the people around them? I don't think they do and understanding the wider community they serve is essential when it comes to providing the best opportunities for our children.
"I stood outside of Tesco and surveyed people there to ask them what they thought signs of radicalisation was. Some of the most common answers were wearing a hijab, praying five times a day and having a long beard. This is not extremism but there is a lack of education and that's what the public think."
Other speakers included IQRA headteacher, Noeman Anwar, Ofsted's special advisor for extremism, Geraint Evans and Slough local area commander Superintendent Simon Bowden.
Each speaker emphasised the need for children to feel safe enough to ask questions about extremism in the classroom and for teachers to be properly trained and prepared to discuss controversial topics with their students.