Some teachers are too scared to discuss 9/11 with their pupils as they fear a backlash from Muslim parents, a leading expert in counter-extremism education has warned.
Kamal Hanif OBE, who was appointed by the Government to turn around three schools at the heart of the “Trojan Horse” scandal, said that some teachers have a “misplaced” concern that they will cause offence if they raise 9/11 in the classroom.
He said that some teachers – particularly those who work in schools with a high proportion of Muslim students – see it as a contentious topic and shy away from teaching it.
“Teachers sometimes have a fear that this might be controversial,” he said.
“[They think] if we teach about this we might get Muslim parents objecting.”
Mr Hanif, who is executive principal of Waverley Education Foundation and has advised the Department for Education (DfE) on combating counter-extremism in schools, said that such views are misguided.
“There is a fear [among teachers] but it is not really grounded in anything,” he said.
“It is based on their stereotypical view of a community as opposed to the reality. It is very misplaced. It is an assumption.”
His comments come ahead of the 16th anniversary of 9/11, which saw 2,997 killed when Al-Qaeda launched a series of coordinated terrorist attacks after hijacking planes and crashing them into the World Trade Centre complex and the Pentagon.
Mr Hanif is a trustee for the educational charity Since 9/11, which provides free teaching resources about the attacks and their aftermath.
The resources, which are endorsed by the Department for Education and the Home Office, are aimed at secondary school children, but the charity is now developing a new set of materials for primary schools.
Sir Steve Lancashire, the chief executive of a multi academy trust which which is piloting the materials in its 55 primary schools, said a lot of teachers feel “uncomfortable” about the legacy of 9/11.
“We need to address the nervousness of teachers to teach this kind of subject. Teacher don’t feel well equipped on facts – there are a lot of conspiracy theories, a lot of misinformation,” he said.
The superhead said teachers are scared that they will be accused by their students of being Islamophobic if they try to teach about 9/11 and its legacy.