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Migration and Home Affairs
2 July 2024

Managing Controversy: Developing a Strategy for Handling Controversy and Teaching Controversial Issues in Schools

  • United Kingdom
Target Audience
  • Educators/academics
  • Local community organisations/NGOs
  • Youth/pupils/students
key themes association
  • (Early) prevention
  • Formal/informal education
  • 2024


Young Citizens (YC), (formerly the Citizenship Foundation (CF)), is the leading NGO in the field of citizenship and legal education in the UK. YC inspires young people to take part in society as equal members. It helps them to understand the law, politics, and democratic life.

YC promotes participation, helps teachers to teach citizenship and works with young people on issues that concern them. It strives for a democracy in which everyone has the knowledge, skills and confidence to engage as effective citizens.

This practice was jointly funded by the Council of Europe (CoE) and European Commission as part of an Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education (EDC/HRE) DISCO Pilot Projects Scheme.

Type of Organisation: NGO

Project description

This training pack is a self-reflection tool for school leaders, leadership teams, and teachers, offering guidance on how to handle controversial issues in schools and educational settings. The tool helps practitioners reflect on the way controversy is managed in their schools/settings and offers practical suggestions on how it might be handled more proactively and strategically. 

The pack can be used alongside the companion training pack, ‘Handling Controversy’. It is aimed at school leaders and teachers but can also be used by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community organisations. The pack is a response to a call from policymakers and practitioners in a number of European countries for more effective training for school leaders and teachers in the handling of controversial issues, as a matter of educational urgency. 

The pack contains nine sections, each dealing with a different area of school life or setting that could have an impact on the management of controversy and controversial issues. Every section contains a description of the area of school life, an explanation of that area’s role in relation to the handling of controversial issues, a case study from a European school and a practical suggestion for application in schools/settings. 

A scoping paper also provides the background to managing controversy.

The pack helps strengthen the role of education in promoting the core values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. It also advances the concept of education being on the frontline in countering social evils such as violent extremism and the radicalisation of youth, xenophobia and discrimination, as well as violence and hate-speech.


Concrete deliverables from the practice include:

  • self-reflection tool available online, downloadable from the Council of Europe website; 
  • tool translated into the main European languages, available online; 
  • tool adapted for Nordic countries and translated into the main Nordic languages; 
  • supporting website at the Council of Europe with further details about the practice, its origins, aims and outcomes; 
  • tool promoted by the European Wergeland Centre (EWC) in Oslo as part of its training to combat extremism, hate speech, racism and xenophobia. 
  • Tool used in Luxembourg in 2023 to develop training and supporting manual on Addressing Controversial Issues for all new teachers

Contact details


UK37 Heneage St,
London, E1 5LJ,

Contact person: David Kerr
Telephone: (+44) (0)78 6730 1960
david [dot] kerratyoungcitizens [dot] org (Email) | Website

Read the full practice

2 JULY 2024
Managing Controversy: Developing a Strategy for Handling Controversy and Teaching Controversial Issues in Schools