Prevent in schools
The Prevent strategy, published originally by the Coalition government in 2011, aims to reduce the threat to the UK from terrorism by preventing people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.
It has since been revised and is still the most current duty where schools have a legal responsibility to “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.
Prevent is not just aimed at schools but is applicable to other sectors such as health and criminal justice where there are risks for individuals to be radicalised. As a teacher, you might be unsure about what your responsibilities for Prevent are and what you should do if you suspect a pupil is being radicalised.
What are the key things I need to know?
As a teacher, you have a responsibility to report pupils who are at risk of radicalisation. You might find it difficult to ascertain if a pupil is being radicalised or if he/she poses a threat. The Department for Education (DfE) has produced advice for schools on the Prevent duty. It explains:
“There is no single way of identifying an individual who is likely to be susceptible to a terrorist ideology. As with managing other safeguarding risks, staff should be alert to changes in children’s behaviour which could indicate that they may be in need of help or protection. Children at risk of radicalisation may display different signs or seek to hide their views. School staff should use their professional judgement in identifying children who might be at risk of radicalisation and act proportionately.”
If you have a concern about a particular pupil you should follow your school’s safeguarding procedures including discussing with your designated safeguarding lead. In some areas, your local authority or academy trust might have a Prevent lead who can also provide support.
The DfE has a dedicated telephone helpline (020 7340 7264) to enable staff and governors to raise concerns relating to extremism directly.
Concerns can also be raised by email to: [email protected]
Please note that the helpline is not intended for use in emergency situations, such as a child being at immediate risk of harm or a security incident, in which case the normal emergency procedures should be followed.
Should I have received training on Prevent?
Your school should have provided training so that you are able to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism, as well as how to challenge extremist ideas. You should be able to know where and how to refer children and young people for further help. You can ask your line manager for further information.
We have published another article which summarises the CPD you should receive as a teacher.
What happens if I make an allegation which turns out to be incorrect?
You should use your professional judgement if you suspect a pupil is being radicalised. You should face no repercussions if you report a pupil under Prevent. If you feel like you have been victimised as a result of following the Prevent duty at your school you can contact Edapt for further advice and support.
Where can I look for more information on this topic?
There are a range of resources and organisations which you can use to learn more about Prevent. These include:
- A guide for schools published by the DfE on how terrorist groups such as ISIL use social media to encourage travel to Syria and Iraq
- Prevent 4 Schools (P4S) is a website which provides resources for teachers to use in lessons and assemblies
- Prevent for Further Education and Training has a range of resources which can be adapted for schools
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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.