What is the best way to explain difficult news?

Sometimes, explaining the news can be difficult to do in an age-appropriate, safe way.

In 2021, experts said UK schools must teach about 9/11 terrorist attacks.


Now another act of terrorism, the Manchester Arena attack, is in the news again as Martyn’s Law progresses through parliament. The UK will be better prepared for, and protected from, terrorist attacks under new draft laws published by government.


Terrorism and extremism are not easy subjects to teach which is why we have 2 books to help primary and secondary teachers get the conversation started. Written by Alison Jamieson, a freelance author who has written on issues of political violence, drug trafficking and organised crime for over 25 years, and Jane Flint, a teacher, these books are for teachers wishing to inform themselves about terrorism and extremism.

Talking about Terrorism Alison Jamieson and Jane Flint

Children’s questions about terrorism can be penetrating and hard to answer. Many teachers will be caught unawares by such questions, uncertain themselves about terrorist motivation and goals and torn between the instinct to reassure and the awareness that Britain is on continuous terrorist alert.

Talking about Terrorism is a teacher resource that attempts to answer these difficult questions. It is structured around 40 questions that primary age children may ask.

* What do terrorists want?

* How can we stop someone becoming a terrorist?

* Who is keeping us safe in Britain?

* Why are terrorists so angry and full of hate?

* When will terrorism end?

The authors answer the questions in clear, easy-to-understand language – providing simple, objective explanations and reassurance where possible – while being careful not to raise unrealistic expectations.

The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act (February 2015) makes it compulsory for schools to implement anti-radicalisation measures to help prevent young people from being drawn into terrorism.

Radicalisation and Terrorism: A Teacher’s Handbook for Addressing Extremism provides a reliable and objective resource to enable lower secondary school (KS3) teachers to tackle the complex subjects of terrorism and radicalisation with confidence.

It sets political violence within a broad context of perceived injustice, using familiar emotions of anger and disappointment to introduce the notion of grievance, a precursor of all forms of terrorism.

Tackling these difficult topics is never easy. We all wish it wasn’t necessary but in this arena where many young people are active on social media it is important for teachers to step in – otherwise pupils researching the topic themselves may fall prey to conspiracy theories.

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