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Roland Martin - Issue #14

Radical thoughts from the Society of Heads' conference, March 2016

Roland Martin

March 8 · Issue #14 · View online
Headmaster - City of London Freemen's school; Chief Officer - City of London - '...write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing' Benjamin Franklin

Radical thoughts from the Society of Heads’ conference, March 2016

Foundation for peace
One of the memorable key-note speakers at a recent headteachers’ conference which I attended (Society of Heads 2016) was Christine Cox, from the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. 
The charity was a striking one for several reasons, not least of all this statement, repeated throughout their website’s pages:
 “We do not take sides, we are not aligned to any conflict, we are not faith or political based and we do not pursue causes such as justice or truth. There is no other organisation that takes such a stance.”
The story of how the charity came to be is remarkable. Wendy Parry, mother of Tim, visited Northern Ireland shortly after her 12 year old son was killed, not full of anger, but full of drive. She met with women who supported the IRA. Poignantly, they laid flowers on the floor for her loss and told her that this bombing had most definitely not been done in their name. 
Wendy - and her husband Colin - wanted to make something positive happen in order that Tim’s death was not in vain. She explains, on the Peace Foundation website:
“The Foundation was launched in 1995 from the spare bedroom (Tim’s bedroom) at our house. 
Tim’s death was a difficult time for the family but the determination to keep his memory and name alive has helped us to deal with the loss of our beautiful and cheeky second child. The death of any child is the most painful loss to bear for any family in any circumstances but Tim was killed by a terrorist bomb, making it a political act which attracted enormous publicity and public outrage throughout Britain and Ireland.
Consequently, Tim and our family became public figures for a very long time through TV, Radio and the Press. Constant media attention meant that Colin and I were very busy in the days, weeks and months that followed Tim’s death but it helped to take our minds and focus, to some extent, off the raw pain of losing Tim.
The Foundation’s first programme was called ‘the Tim Parry Scholarship’, and it helped young people from Warrington, Dublin and Belfast to learn about each other’s’ lives, hopes and fears, and through this programme, they came to see that that there was very little difference between them in terms of things they liked and disliked as young people.
The end product was that they became friends who remained in touch with each other after the programme ended.”
I’m sure I’m not the only delegate there who was moved by the actions which gave birth to a designated centre for peace and a desire for collaboration and understanding.
Many of us will remember the Troubles, and the chain of events in Warrington in 1993, and elsewhere, across England. Indeed, my wife tells of a time when she was waitressing as a student in a hotel in Oxford and how everyone had to evacuate because of an IRA ‘bomb-threat’ call to The Samaritans. Such calls were remarkably commonplace. 
The 1993 bomb in Warrington was far from commonplace. The film which follows details what happened there and then. The fact remains that although the terror has changed name and reason, it has not gone away. Tim’s father, Colin, talks about more recent global developments in the latter part of this film.
Tim Parry Johnthan Ball Foundation for Peace - YouTube
9/11, 7/7, ?/? ...
High profile terrorist attacks in 2001 in New York, 2005 in London, in Sousse, in Sharm, and Paris last year - along with attacks on other targeted areas which received less worldwide media coverage  - added up to a national need for explicit strategies to be put into place for those of us dealing with young people. Britain’s reaction to 7/7 differed from the USA’s to 9/11. The following article makes an interesting point: our terrorists were really our own, born and brought up in Britain. 
Why don't Londoners remember 7/7 like New York remembers 9/11?
An early response to the 7/7 bombings from indicates something of what was to happen next in Britain. 
Why London bombings are not the work of ‘Islamic’ terrorists | IslamiCity
Since summer 2015, the Government has introduce the Prevent framework. My teaching audience will know first hand that all teachers in the UK now receive training on when and how to intervene if they suspect that a young person under their watch is on the ladder to radicalisation. Christine Cox from the Peace Foundation talked to us in detail about the steps which are recognisable. She also reiterated the imperative that we must engage with young people if we have any hope for peace. 
Radicalisation can take many forms. We saw that three of the so-called London back-pack bombers were British. We see certain white supremacist groups rising in number across economically challenged parts of the UK and across the US; we might have hoped that the KKK was no longer in existence, but a flick through some of last week’s American election soundbites would tell us otherwise. Violent extremists can come from any tribe.
It is important to note that the Peace Foundation was set up to bring together communities with differing views. It doesn’t blame. It doesn’t take sides. That must be what’s crucial going forward. Their latest project is called Think - it look likes this:
Introduction To The THINK Programme For Schools - YouTube
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