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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 from being drawn into 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 individuals susceptible to radicalisation. 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.

The Prevent duty was introduced in July 2015, putting the objectives of the Prevent Strategy on a statutory footing. This made it a legal 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. The second part of the duty focuses on building resilience against extremist narratives, including through the embedding of fundamental British values throughout the curriculum and ethos of the school. 

The Prevent duty applies to a variety of authorities and institutions, including:

  • 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?

Inspection frameworks and handbooks by Ofsted and the ISI set out current expectations for 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

The risk assessment, further below, outlines more comprehensively how compliance can be achieved. 

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

  • Prevent training and awareness raising for all staff, including members of the governing body

  • Having a clear internal referral process for safeguarding concerns about extremism

  • Revisiting existing safeguarding policies and ensure they reference the Prevent duty 

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

  • Building good working relationships with local institutions and initiatives, including the Southwark Prevent Team 

  • Having a robust online safety policy

  • Ensuring rigorous staff vetting

  • Completing 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, 58kb) 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 an individual’s vulnerabilities and grievances, often offering distorted explanations and seemingly simple solutions to complex personal, social and political challenges. The availability of extremist content in the online space means that many young people may unwittingly come into contact with such narratives. 

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 involve promoting British values like diversity and tolerance through play and circle time. For staff, Prevent training raises awareness about the risks and susceptibility factors associated with extremist behaviour, and how they can identify when a child is being exposed to extremism in an online or offline setting.