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Why is Prevent relevant for schools?

The Prevent Strategy makes clear the important role that schools have to play in safeguarding people before they may become terrorists or support terrorism (e.g. para. 10.45). Prevent works at the pre-criminal stage by using awareness-raising and early intervention to encourage individuals and communities to challenge extremist ideology and behaviour and safeguard vulnerable individuals. It is an extension of the same safeguarding processes which the education sector already employs in order to effectively safeguard children from drugs, gang violence, alcohol abuse, and other forms of harm and crime.

With the introduction of the Prevent duty objectives of the Prevent Strategy were put on a statutory footing in July 2015, making it a requirement for all schools and colleges in England and Wales to give due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.

This statutory duty applies to a variety of authorities and institutions and includes:

  • Maintained schools

  • Non-maintained special schools

  • Independent schools (including Academies and Free Schools)

  • Alternative provision academies

  • Pupil referral units

  • Registered childcare providers and nurseries

  • Other commissioned partners

How can your school ensure compliance with Prevent?

To comply with the Prevent duty your school has to ensure that it safeguards individuals from being drawn into extremism and builds resilience to prevent people from being vulnerable to extremism in the first place (see Risk Assessment form further below for details).

Inspection frameworks and handbooks by Ofsted and the ISI set out current expectations on schools regarding their work to prevent extremism which can be summarised into two categories:

  • Safeguarding individuals from being drawn into extremism

  • Raising awareness and building resilience against extremism and the risks associated with it amongst your staff and students in an age appropriate way

In practice, this includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Prevent training and awareness raising for all staff

  • Clear internal referral process for safeguarding concerns about extremism

  • Revisit existing safeguarding policies and ensure they include Prevent

  • Promote fundamental British values through the curriculum and wider school ethos e.g. create a safe space for dialogue and debate, promote critical thinking skills

  • Build good working relationships with local institutions and initiatives e.g. Southwark Prevent Team

  • Robust e-safety policy

  • Ensure rigorous staff vetting

  • Due diligence process on external organisations and individuals hiring school premises and/or engaging with students and staff

To ensure that your school complies with the Prevent duty and to mitigate any potential risks, complete this short Prevent risk assessment form (docx, 53kb) for Southwark schools. You can also find top tips and resources on this Prevent specific post by the London Grid for Learning (LGfL).

Why is Prevent relevant for primary schools and early years’ education?

Extremist movements and ideologies exploit individual’s vulnerabilities and grievances and often offer distorted explanations and simple solutions to complex personal, social and political challenges. Hence, building resilience against extremists’ recruitment tactics and narratives from an early age is vital to prevent children from being drawn into extremism as they get older. For young children, this can entail for example the promotion of British values like diversity and tolerance through play and circle time. For staff this includes among other things Prevent training to raise awareness about the risks and vulnerability factors associated with extremist behaviour and how they can identify when a young child is being exposed to extremism in an online or offline setting.