Schools and colleges have a vital role to play in protecting pupils from the risks of extremism and radicalisation, a role which is underpinned by the “Prevent duty”
“To have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism” Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015
Even where the extent of extremism in schools may be perceived to be low – it has a high impact. Keeping children safe from these risks is a safeguarding matter and should be approached in the same way as safeguarding children from other risks.
- A Vulnerable Individual – someone open to recruitment through their circumstance, experience or state of mind.
- Radicalisation – is usually a process not an event. During that process it is possible to intervene to prevent vulnerable people progressing down a path towards radicalisation and or terrorist-related activity.
- Violent Extremism – describes the attitudes, beliefs and actions that condone violence as a means to a political end.
- Extremism – 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.
- Terrorist – unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims
- Prevent is about all forms of terrorism – Far Right, Animal Rights and Religious based extremism.
- There are 3 distinct strands to Prevent: ideology, individuals, and institutions. The response needs to be proportionate and risk based. Incidents may be “low frequency”, but can have high impact.
- Prevent is based on having conversations with trusted colleagues and using professional judgement to understand when to intervene and refer.
- Prevent uses a multi-agency safeguarding process called Channel which offers support to individuals who might be exposed to extremist ideologies; it is Early Help.
Channel is a partnership approach to support individuals vulnerable to recruitment by violent extremists. In Cheshire East the Channel Co-ordinator is Kirsty Hercules – Principal Manager Communities & Partnerships
Channel coordinators provide expert advice and guidance around issues of violent extremism to safeguarding boards, senior managers and front line professionals. They assist frontline professionals to assess the nature and extent of vulnerability, need and risk around violent extremism; providing an appropriate support package to divert them away from potential threat at an early stage.
The CE Channel Panel meets bi-monthly. Attendees sign a Confidentiality agreement and share case information.
Discussion covers the vulnerabilities of individuals and their families, current support, and risks for the individual and community.
Attendees agree if the case is appropriate for Channel and the support plan which is needed.
For those already open to Panel support plans are tailored, building on existing support, and may consist of help with family problems, mental health support, religious education, mentoring etc..
For those who are not Channel appropriate: a safe exit from Channel or a referral elsewhere is discussed.
The Safeguarding Children in Education Settings (SCiES) team represent education settings at these meetings. This means that SCiES may contact you before a meeting to request your view regarding the lived experience of the young person; and will contact you afterwards to give you an update.
Role of Schools and Settings:
Schools and colleges can support young people by providing a safe environment for discussing controversial issues; equipping them with the knowledge, skills and ability to think for themselves, to challenge and to debate; to express their views but also to appreciate the impact their views can have on others.
Schools and colleges also have a key role in identifying concerns at an early stage.
Prevention work for students may include the RE curriculum, PSHE, anti-bullying and hate crime prevention.
Consideration must always be given to the suitability of outside speakers; their input should be planned carefully and the session should be attended by staff members.
Filters should prevent extremist material being accessed in schools and colleges (be aware of students using community languages to circumvent filtering)
Staff and students need to develop an awareness of online risks and how extremists use social media to engage with young people
The curriculum is key in addressing issues and increasing pupil knowledge and support through:
Teaching British values
Giving quality time to consider sensitive or controversial topics
Developing students’ skills and knowledge to understand recognise risk and manage difficult situations increasing their capacity to make safer choices
Helping them with peer pressure when it threatens their personal safety or well-being
Developing their understanding of political and social issues with learning about democracy, government and how laws are made; diversity and the wide-range of ethnic identities in the UK and the need for mutual respect and understanding