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The Prevent Duty - What it Means for Academies and Maintained Schools

on Tuesday, 14 July 2015.

From 1 July, all schools have had a statutory duty to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. This is referred to as the 'Prevent duty'.

Furthermore, schools must have regard to statutory guidance issued in relation to the Prevent duty. The DfE has also recently published non-statutory advice on the Prevent duty which fleshes out the implications for schools and signposts a number of resources available - with the promise of more to come.

What is the Prevent duty?

Getting to grips with terminology is the starting point. The DfE advice explains that 'radicalisation' is the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and forms of extremism leading to terrorism. It is seen as the stage during which it is possible to intervene to prevent vulnerable people being drawn into terrorist-related activity. And the statutory guidance explains the linkage between terrorism, extremism and radicalisation in the following terms:

'Terrorist groups often draw on extremist ideology, developed by extremist organisations. Some people who join terrorist groups have previously been members of extremist organisations and have been radicalised by them. The Government has defined extremism in the Prevent strategy as: “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also include in our definition of extremism calls for the death of members of our armed forces”.”

The statutory guidance emphasises that the new legal duty on schools shouldn't either add or detract a great deal from what good schools are already doing. All academies are required by law to teach a broad and balanced curriculum which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life. They must also promote community cohesion.

Likewise, the DfE advice stresses that the Prevent duty is entirely consistent with schools' existing responsibilities, should not be burdensome and is not intended to stop pupils debating controversial issues.

Best Practice

Implementing the Prevent duty will require all schools to take action across all the following areas:

  • Establish an understanding of the risk profile of radicalisation amongst the school's pupils and staff.
  • Ensure staff understand the risk and build the capabilities to deal with it, in particular enabling staff to:
    • understand what radicalisation means and why those within the school community may be vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism as a consequence of it
    • know what measures are available to prevent those within the school community from becoming drawn into terrorism and how to challenge the extremist ideology that can be associated with it
    • understand how to obtain support for those within the school community who may be being exploited by radicalising influences
  • Communicate and promote the importance of the Prevent duty, providing appropriate training for staff involved in the implementation of the Prevent duty to ensure effective implementation.
  • Work in partnership and co-operation with local Prevent co-ordinators, the police and local authorities and through existing multi-agency forums.
  • Share information to ensure that a person at risk of radicalisation is given appropriate support whilst taking into account factors such as necessity and proportionality, consent, the power to share and relevant legislation.
  • Ensure that those within the school community suspected or identified as already engaged in illegal terrorist-related activity are referred to the police.
  • Maintain appropriate records to show compliance with the school's responsibilities and provide reports when requested.

Practical Steps

Compliance with the Prevent duty will require schools to review aspects of their existing policies, particularly child protection, risk assessment and IT policies. The statutory guidance also specifically mentions that schools should have clear protocols for ensuring that any visiting speakers are suitable and appropriately supervised.

In terms of staff training, DfE advice suggests that schools are best placed to assess their training needs but that, as a minimum, the DSL should undertake Prevent Awareness Training and be able to provide advice and support to other members of staff. The Home Office has developed a core training product called Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent (WRAP) and schools should enquire with local partners whether there are accredited WRAP-trained facilitators.

For further information, please contact Yvonne Spencer in our Academies team on 0117 314 5202.

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