Preventing Extremism and Radicalisation
What is the Prevent strategy?
The aim of ‘Prevent’ is to stop people becoming or supporting terrorists and to do this by challenging ideologies, protecting vulnerable individuals and supporting institutions, such as schools. It is part of the National Counter Terrorism Strategy known as CONTEST.
In 2008, the then Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) launched ‘Learning Together to be Safe’ – a toolkit to help schools contribute to the prevention of violent extremism and the Government’s ‘Prevent Strategy’.
In 2011 the Government reviewed CONTEST and the Prevent Strategy in particular. The focus changed and the objectives were revised as follows:
- respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat from those who promote it
- prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support
- work with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation that we need to address
The government regards Prevent as a key part of CONTEST and does not believe it is possible to resolve the threats we face simply by arresting and prosecuting more people. Prevent will address all forms of terrorism but continue to prioritise according to the threat they post to our national security.
Prevent is a government strategy designed to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorist or extremist causes.
The Prevent strategy covers all types of terrorism and extremism, including political and religious extremism.
How does the Prevent strategy apply to schools?
All schools (as well as other organisations) have a duty to safeguard children from radicalisation and extremism.
This means schools have a responsibility to protect children from extremist and violent views, in the same way we protect them from drugs or gang violence.
Importantly, schools can provide a safe place for pupils to discuss these issues so that they better understand how to protect themselves.
Wakefield has prioritised education as the long-term answer to challenging extremism in the District and continues to provide a training program to meet the demand.
Prevent is recognised as a ‘safeguarding’ issue and will be treated in the same way as other safeguarding processes deigned to protect vulnerable people from harm or abuse.
What does this mean in practice?
Different schools will carry out the Prevent duty in different ways, depending on the age of the children and the needs of the community.
Many of the things we already do in school to help children become positive, happy members of society also contribute to the Prevent strategy.
This can include:
- Exploring other cultures and religions and promoting diversity
- Challenging prejudices and racist comments
- Developing critical thinking skills and a strong, positive self-identity
- Promoting the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils, as well as British values such as democracy
- Protecting children from the risk of radicalisation, such as using filters on the internet or vetting visitors who come into school
Frequently Asked Questions
How does Prevent relate to British values?
Schools have been required to promote British values since 2014, and this will continue to be part of the response to the Prevent strategy.
British values include:
- The rule of law
- Individual liberty and mutual respect
- Tolerance of different faiths and beliefs
Isn’t my child too young to learn about extremism?
The Prevent strategy is not just about discussing extremism itself, which may not be appropriate for younger children. It is also about teaching children values such as tolerance and mutual respect.
Schools should make sure any discussions are suitable for the age and maturity of the children involved.
Is extremism really a risk in our area?
Extremism can take many forms, including political, religious and ideological extremism. Some of these may be a bigger threat in our area than others.
The intention is to give children the skills to protect them from any extremist views they may encounter, now or later in their lives.
Additional resources and links
Online Radicalisation: Supporting Parents & Carers during school closures
During school closures and lockdown arrangements, both children and adults will spend more time online. Whilst this can provide positive opportunities, it also brings potential risks and challenges too – including those surrounding online radicalisation.