Karol Thornton and Kay Sidebottom, Tutor Voices

“I now know how important it is in teaching to allow spaces for disagreement, exploration and uncertainty.” Project Participant

Earlier in 2016, as Brexit debates sank to new depths of intolerance, we travelled around England exploring Fundamental British Values (FBV) and Prevent[1] with teacher educators and trainees. This article explores our reflexive conclusions a few months after the project’s end.

According to Henry Giroux, education should be “a formative culture which [produces] citizens who arewilling to act in a socially inclusive and responsible way.” We are depressingly far from that ideal in the UK today. Giroux would argue that our educational culture, [reduces] learning to an instrumental logic that too often and too easily can be perverted to violent ends.

What began as an attempt to subvert an agenda which casts teachers as counter-surveillance officers ended as a real mission of praxis for us both. Everywhere we went, we found people hungry to think differently about the potential for democratic education. In a world of adult education that foregrounds ticking Ofsted boxes above all, there is little room for debate and discussion. We do not like uncertainty either; yet Prevent is an area for fear, confusion and misunderstanding, where people are scared to open up and spaces no longer feel safe. 'Fundamental British Values' appear sound yet can also be divisive.

We hope to convince you that more important than content in ‘teaching’ Prevent/FBV, is process. The cult of ‘embedding’ needs shifting to a movement of ‘pro-social pedagogy[2]’ where we model behaviour, enable thinking to happen, and explicitly create transformative spaces of belonging. This is possible wherever we gather people together for the process of learning, as long as we recognise the potential for all colleagues and students to be equal as thinkers. And of course it is not limited to classrooms, but also our social and workspaces.

Our project used Community Philosophy (CP)[3] to get people thinking, even (especially) when that meant disagreeing with one another.

Participants generated philosophical questions such as:

  • What am I doing, to foster a sense of belonging and community in my classes?
  • What does it actually mean, to be radical?
  • How am I preparing my students to play a positive part in a globalised and diverse world?
  • How am I enabling my students to express their views and respect the views of others?

The notion of ‘belonging’ arose repeatedly. Stimulated into affirmative/restorative (rather than negative/punitive) thinking, our 60+ participants may have disagreed about nuances of Prevent/FBV, but they reached a stable consensus about what we as educators can do to challenge alienation and extremism: foster a sense of ‘belonging’ within our own classrooms. Philosophical inquiries always conclude with a call to action and in the case of every session we ran this was a consideration of how to build community and identity, flipping the idea of ‘Prevent’ to the concept of ‘Enable’.

Participants committed to actions such as:

  • Re-reading and critically analysing the original Government Prevent guidance.
  • Following diverse voices on Twitter and joining campaigns.
  • Researching Non-Violent Communication as a means of facilitating respectful debate.
  • Doing identity and values work with their own groups.
  • Using Restorative Practice approaches to build classroom communities.

As people who aim to work affirmatively and openly, Prevent/FBV has been a challenge for us. Using Community Philosophy to hear and explore diverse and oppositional views has been vital to our confidence in navigating these complex and nuanced waters. We have a duty as public servants to take Prevent/FBV seriously, but our biggest responsibility is to our own students who will be going out into the world needing clarity the chance to think all of this through.

A final thought: perhaps it is time to reclaim the word ‘radical’. As Paulo Freire said:

[The radical person]is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveilednot afraid to meet the people or to enter into a dialogue with them. This person does not consider himself or herself the liberator of the oppressed; but he or she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side.”

Karol Thornton and Kay Sidebottom, Tutor Voices

Evans, B. and Giroux. H.A. (2016). The Violence of Forgetting. New York Times. 20.6.2016.

Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. London. Penguin.

Sidebottom, K. and Thornton, K. (2016) Final Report – Exploring Prevent and FBV through Philosophical Inquiry. Online

[1] Our project was funded by The Consortium for Education and Training. Educators across the sector have been uncertain of how to respond to the Prevent/FBV agenda as evidenced through discussions on social networks. Current approaches to Prevent training are largely online and focus on transmitting and testing information. This covers the bases in terms of organisations evidencing that staff are trained. It comes nowhere near addressing the concerns, fears and prejudices of educators, who, in the experience of our pilot, are left either further confused and bewildered, or hardened in pejorative assumptions.

[2] We use Restorative Practice, Thinking Environments, Community Philosophy, Open Space Technology, Non-Violent Communication – on and offline. Certainly there will be many others we haven’t heard of.

[3] CP is an inquiry-based learning technique which encourages questioning and critical thinking. Participants are encouraged to ‘problematise’ and question accepted concepts, connect ideas and use reflection and action to gain a critical awareness of social reality.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page