SCOTS children as young as five are being targeted by teachers in case they have been radicalised by extremist groups.
The move is part of counter-terrorism training given to staff at primary schools as part of the UK Government’s strategy to deal with the problem.
Teachers at a school in Glasgow contacted local politicians after undergoing the training, which aims to reduce the risk of young people becoming involved in extremism.
The programme will be rolled out to other primary schools, while several secondaries and colleges have also put staff through the initiative, a localised part of the Government’s Contest counter-terror programme.
It has sparked concern counter-terrorism is being added to an already long list of job requirements. It has also led to accusations that teachers are being forced to spy on young children in the name of national security.
Senior officials within Glasgow City Council’s education department have confirmed that staff at Glendale Primary in Pollokshields had attended the training.
Teachers later contacted politicians with their concerns. The school is in one of the most predominantly Muslim communities in Scotland.
The revelation follows the Coalition Government’s decision this week to scrap the Prevent part of the Contest strategy which gives councils a role in fighting extremism.
Officials said the training was about child protection and it was “not just considering the threat from organisations such as al Qaeda, although the police advise us that this is currently the highest threat”.
Correspondence seen by The Herald also states the head teacher at Glendale Primary “had made it very clear that it was counter-terrorism and that it was not targeted at the Muslim community – rather it was within child protection and looked at the influences children can be faced with from a range of pressure groups”.
Glasgow SNP MSP Humza Yousaf said: “If teachers are being asked to look for signs of radicalisation among primary school pupils then this is an incredibly worrying development. This will undoubtedly lead to questions about whether or not students from a particular race or faith background are being unfairly targeted and monitored. We cannot have a culture of teachers spying on primary school pupils. I am sure they would not be comfortable doing so.”
Hugh Donnelly, secretary of the Glasgow branch of the Educational Institute of Scotland teaching union, said: “Clearly this is a sensitive area and if there were any obligations being placed on teachers which would conflict with their role as teachers, particularly with regard to child protection issues, then we would be concerned.”
Pollokshields Tory councillor David Meikle said: “The threat of home grown terrorism is high in this country and it is important we take action to address it, including training teachers to spot early signs of radicalism in young people.
“I also support greater emphasis on integration – this is crucial to ensure strong communities where terrorism cannot flourish.”
Contest has been led in north of the Border by the Scottish Government and the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland (ACPOS).
Training for teachers has involved workshops and presentations which “help participants to recognise some of the issues that may lead individuals to becoming, or supporting, violent extremists”.
It discusses the role of teachers and how they can get involved and refer individuals to some form of intervention.
A city council spokeswoman said: “The school facilitated a request from Strathclyde Police to deliver the training and guidance to teachers during an inset day.
“Its aim is to advise teachers on the correct procedures they should follow if they have any concerns about information disclosed by a child. The approach is the same as that used for other child protection issues.”
Acpos said it was part of a programme designed to get the anti-extremism message into schools and colleges.