In December 2018, the Government provided a statement of the Government’s position on counter-extremism policy in schools, and the relevant measures it is undertaking, which is summarised below:
Extremism has no place in our schools. We will investigate quickly any evidence that suggests a school is not keeping children safe from extremist ideas, ideology or radicalisation. All schools are subject to a robust inspection regime, and we will not hesitate to take firm and swift action if pupils are in any way being placed at risk.
Schools, both state-funded and independent, have a range of duties in relation to safeguarding children from extremism. The protection of children from radicalisation and the promotion of British values are part of the inspection regime to which schools are subject.
In recent times the Government has taken further action to strengthen the duties on schools, in particular with the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, which placed the Government’s ‘Prevent’ counter-extremism strategy on a statutory footing, and placed duties on schools to prevent children being radicalised and drawn into terrorism. The Government has also sought to strengthen schools’ abilities to address a wide range of potential concerns relating to radicalisation, such as the potential for children to be groomed through social media and encouraged by ISIS to travel to Syria.
In 2014, the ‘Trojan Horse’ affair in Birmingham schools raised concerns that school leadership could spread extremist ideology through the school system, which prompted a series of inquiries and subsequently action by the then Coalition Government, including the move to promote British values in schools.
Broader information can be found in the Library briefing Counter-extremism policy: an overview, CBP 7238.
How to raise concerns:
In addition to in-school safeguarding mechanisms, there are contacts at the Department for Education to be used if someone is concerned about extremism in a school or organisation that works with children, or if they think a child might be at risk of extremism:
─ Email: email@example.com
─ Telephone: 020 7340 7264
─ Open Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm (excluding bank holidays).
The Government’s July 2015 response to the Education Committee report on the Trojan Horse affair provides a statement of the Government’s position on counter-extremism policy in schools. The advice it gave is given below:
About this departmental advice
The Prevent duty is the duty in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 on specified authorities, in the exercise of their functions, to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.
The statutory guidance makes clear that schools and childcare providers are expected to assess the risk of children being drawn into terrorism, including support for extremist ideas that are part of terrorist ideology. This means being able to demonstrate both a general understanding of the risks affecting children and young people in the area and a specific understanding of how to identify individual children who may be at risk of radicalisation and what to do to support them.
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 and childcare providers should understand when it is appropriate to make a referral to the Channel programme. Channel is a programme which focuses on providing support at an early stage to people who are identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism.
The statutory guidance makes clear the need for schools to ensure that children are safe from terrorist and extremist material when accessing the internet in schools. William Farr School has suitable filtering is in place.
More generally, schools have an important role to play in equipping children and young people to stay safe online, both in school and outside. Internet safety is integral to our school’s ICT curriculum and is embedded in PSME.
Building children’s resilience to radicalisation
William Farr Sshool takes the view that we build pupils’ resilience to radicalisation by providing a safe environment for debating controversial issues and helping them to understand how they can influence and participate in decision-making. We are very experienced in promoting the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils and, within this, fundamental British values.
Personal, Social and Moral Education (PSME) is an effective way of providing pupils with time to explore sensitive or controversial issues, and equipping them with the knowledge and skills to understand and manage difficult situations. We use PSME to teach pupils to recognise and manage risk, make safer choices, and recognise when pressure from others threatens their personal safety and wellbeing. They develop effective ways of resisting pressures, including knowing when, where and how to get help. We encourage pupils to develop positive character traits through, such as resilience, determination, self-esteem, and confidence.
Links to Support
Families agsinst Stress and Trauma http://www.familiesmatter.org.uk/