The importance of the Prevent Strategy for Education and Schools
The Extremism taskforce report called ‘Tackling Extremism in the UK’ was produced in response to the 2013 attack on Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich and to a lesser extent the far right attacks by Ukrainian student Pavlo Lapshyn in the West Midlands. The report has recommended extended responsibilities in schools, for example:
“All schools in England, whether in the state or independent sectors, including those with a faith ethos, must expect that they will be inspected and assessed on their measures to protect their pupils from extremist material”.
In Bradford, Children’s Services through Diversity and Cohesion (including the Interfaith Education Centre) have been addressing Prevent as an integral part of the duty in promoting community cohesion as suggested in the statement above. This has been through a range of initiatives, such as:
- Stand up, Speak out, Make a difference (SUSOMAD) peer education programme working with the Anne Frank & You and History for Today exhibitions. This year, the service is developing our own exhibition based on the last European Genocide, which took place in Bosnia, Srebrenica in July 1995. This exhibition will accompany the travelling exhibitions available to schools and supplementary schools as part of the SUSOMAD programme.
- Anti ISIS extended assemblies / workshops which explore how un-Islamic such extremist organisation are, develop critical thinking skills and raise awareness of the risks of radicalisation.
- Safeguarding days for schools, which consist of a carousel of workshops that can be delivered to whole year groups or 6th Workshops themes are based on broader safeguarding issues such as knife crime, child sex exploitation, the risk of radicalisation, developing critical thinking skills, social media and theological understanding. The content of these days can be bespoke to individual schools.
- Building Resilience in Bradford was a specific Prevent funded programme run in previous years (2012/13) open to all secondary schools. This like other projects aim to support school staff and strengthen their abilities to counter the use of religious justifications for violence and extremism, and through peer education using ‘pupil voice’ to tackle human rights issues, hate crimes, bullying and prejudice.
- REWIND is a peer education programme that has a significant focus on challenging far right extremism. This prevent funded programme ran in several secondary schools in Bradford in 2013/14 and provided a strong challenge to much of the far right narrative
- Many schools have been involved in initiatives delivered by the Interfaith Education Centre, for example, visits to places of worship supporting Religious Education; Interfaith Week; Believe in Bradford Conferences all these aim to increase student’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) understanding and development and promote British Values. There are lots more that you as schools do in promoting community cohesion and equality.
These and similar programmes are available once again for the 2015/16 academic year. Contact email@example.com (Interim Head of Diversity and Cohesion) for more information.
What should schools do now to address Prevent?
The Government say we have to do more and address specific issues in relation to safeguarding children or young people that maybe vulnerable or at risk of being exposed to radicalisation and extremism. In June this year the DfE consulted key stakeholders on strengthening powers to intervene in schools which are failing to actively promote British values. Ofsted's regulations took effect in September 2014 and will sit alongside the requirements of the Equalities Act. Schools will be expected to focus on, and be able to show how their work with pupils is effective in, embedding fundamental British values. Actively promoting also means challenging pupils, staff or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British values. Ofsted have revised the school inspection framework and The Common Inspection Framework will be effective from September 2015. The revised framework places a greater emphasis on schools to improve resilience to extremist narratives. These new requirements mean that schools need to be aware of the Prevent agenda, the ultimate aim of which is to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. Schools need to be able to show strong leadership, effective safeguarding and staff training as well as a broad and balanced curriculum promoting British Values as well as encouraging tolerance and respect. Action will also be taken against schools where, for example, girls are disadvantaged on the grounds of their gender - or where prejudice against those of other faiths is encouraged or not adequately challenged. The DfE’s governors’ handbook will reflect the new advice and highlight governors’ role in setting and securing an appropriate ethos, and monitoring practice in the school.
Support for Schools
The Diversity and Cohesion Service, along with the Council’s Prevent Lead, Michael Churley have responded to these changes by providing a range of measures to support schools. These include:
- Delivering Safeguarding training in the form of the ‘Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent’ (WRAP) for primary and secondary schools, to ensure that key members of school staff including governors have a good understanding of their roles and responsibilities
- Providing a Prevent ‘Self Assessment Questionnaire’ for schools
- Guidance and advice to support the curriculum as well as initiatives that engage children and young people in Prevent
- A range of guidance documents on the Prevent Strategy
- CPD for school staff to address promoting British values of democracy through Religious Education/SMSC and our peer education projects e.g. Stand up, Speak out, Make a Difference! (See above)
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org Prevent Lead, Bradford Council, or email@example.com Interim Head of Diversity and Cohesion, Children’s Services.