What does the Prevent Duty mean for schools and childcare providers?

 

From 1st July 2015, schools and childcare providers have been required to prevent young people from being drawn into terrorism. Staff must know how to identify children who are at risk of radicalisation and what to do if children are identified.

The Prevent duty forms part of schools’ and childcare providers’ wider safeguarding duties.

It’s not just violent extremism that staff need to be aware of. Non-violent extremism, where extremism but not violence is promoted, is also an area that comes under the Prevent duty. Schools and childcare providers are in a position to help prevent radicalisation by teaching and promoting British values in the classroom. The Prevent duty is not about stopping children discussing and debating controversial issues. Instead, schools and childcare providers should create a safe space where the risks associated with terrorism can be learnt and understood and the ability to challenge extremist arguments and viewpoints can be taught.

Documentation issued by the DfE highlights that the Prevent duty should not be regarded as ‘burdensome’. It should be seen as similar in nature to other safeguarding duties, such as protecting children from neglect, exploitation and bullying. The expectations for the different age groups and settings can be found here.

The requirements for schools and childcare providers are summarised into four separate themes:

  • Risk assessment
  • Working in partnership
  • Staff training
  • IT policies

These key areas can be explored in more detail by reading the relevant sections in The Prevent duty: Departmental advice for schools and childcare providers.

There is an increased risk of online radicalisation, with a number of groups such as ISIL, using the internet and social media to radicalise children and young people. As such, schools and childcare providers need to be aware of these risks and should have policies and appropriate internet filtering methods in place. Schools and childcare providers should help equip children with the knowledge to stay safe online, with internet safety embedded into the curriculum.

In terms of training, schools and childcare providers are best placed to assess their own training needs and within certain geographical areas, these may differ. As a minimum, the Designated Safeguarding Lead should undertake an anti-radicalisation training course and should be able to provide support and advice to other members of staff on the subject. For childminders who work alone, attending training may prove more difficult so the DfE is currently considering other ways in which their awareness can be increased.

There is no one way of identifying a child who is vulnerable to radicalisation. Just as other safeguarding risks would be managed, staff should be aware of changes to the child’s behaviour that could be indicators that they are at risk or require help and protection. Children who are at risk of radicalisation may go to lengths to hide their views. Staff should use their professional judgement when identifying children at risk.

The work of Local Safeguarding Children Boards are built upon by the Prevent duty and they are responsible for coordinating local agencies. The local authorities play a vital role in all aspects of Prevent work and will work with local communities and organisations.

Further Reading

Those to whom the Prevent duty applies, should have knowledge of the statutory guidance; paragraphs 57-76 of the guidance are concerned specifically with schools and childcare providers.

Guidance and advice on promoting British values can be found here.

Advice for childcare providers on promoting British values can be found here.

General advice on internet safety is available here.

Relevant Training

Suitable training for schools and childcare providers can be found here.