Help us help you: Preventing radicalisation

In July 2015, the government introduced new legislation for education staff and childcare providers to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

This means that teachers are now legally obliged to identify children who may be vulnerable to radicalisation. They are also encouraged to “build pupils’ resilience to radicalisation by promoting fundamental British values and enabling them to challenge extremist views” (according to the Prevent Duty advice).Monitoring safeguarding arrangements to prevent radicalisation and extremism have also been added to Ofsted’s remit. 

According to the National Police Chiefs Council, more than 1,800 children have been referred to the de-radicalisation programme called the Channel Scheme. This is an early intervention scheme for those deemed at risk of being exploited by extremist views. Participation is voluntary and parental consent is necessary for children.   

The government’s new emphasis on tackling extremism in schools is partly in response to the number of under 18s travelling to Syria. Over a 12-month period, from March 2014-March 2015, the police estimated that 18 British teenage girls had left the UK to join so-called Islamic State. Overall, an estimated 700 young people (with an average age of 23) have travelled to the Middle East to fight.  

The reaction from the education sector has been mixed so far. Of course, the wellbeing of students is important and the majority of schools want to play their part. But as Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the NAHT headteachers’ union, puts it: “teachers are not counter-terrorism experts, have no wish to be ancillary members of the security service and lack the training to do it well even if they did”. 

As well as a lack of training, prevent duties place more pressure on the already fit-to-burst workload of most teachers. Lucie Parker, expert on homegrown radicalisation, says that the result is many teachers are playing it safe and over referring children. Recently, a 10-year-old Muslim boy was questioned for mistakenly writing that he lived in a ‘terrorist house’ rather than a ‘terraced house’.   

As a charity that cares for teachers’ wellbeing, we are working with the Quilliam Foundation to find out what support is needed for teachers to feel comfortable fulfilling their prevent duties. We are looking for volunteers to take part in a focus group to investigate the issue. 

If you would like to take part, please complete this short survey