With the climate on radicalisation heating up, schools are now directly accountable in the government’s evolving efforts to counter terrorism.
The pressures upon education settings to be part of the prevention strategy have rapidly increased since Operation Trojan Horse in 2014, which saw several Birmingham schools investigated following claims they were being targeted by certain Muslim groups. More recently, the three London schoolgirls who left for Syria were suggested to have been radicalised at school - refuted strongly by the school.
Ofsted is heavily involved in the government’s responses to threats from extremism. Although recent events have centred on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist organisation, references to extremism cover any radicalism.
Following the so-called Trojan Horse letter and consequent investigations, several of the implicated Birmingham schools were judged inadequate. At Park View School, inspectors criticised that ‘The academy’s work to raise students’ awareness of the risks of extremism is inadequate,’ and wrote that Oldknow Academy’s governors ‘do not meet their statutory responsibilities to safeguard pupils because they have not taken steps to protect them from the risks of radicalisation and extremism’. Both of these schools moved from an outstanding judgement to inadequate last year.
In response to the recent instances of radicalisation amongst young British people, the government is requiring schools to tackle anti-radicalisation through the Prevent Duty, under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015.
As part of this duty, all members of school staff are called upon to be confident in identifying ‘“children vulnerable to radicalisation”, and to know what to do in these circumstances’ (The Prevent duty: Departmental advice for schools and childcare providers, June 2015, p 5).
The duty states that ‘From 1 July 2015 all schools, registered early years childcare providers and registered later years childcare providers […] are subject to a duty under section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, in the exercise of their functions, to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”’ (The Prevent duty, p 4).
There are various routes for schools to take in order to keep up to date with current expectations. These are outlined on the rest of this page.
Schools are expected to enable staff to spot signs of potential radicalisation and know where to escalate issues to when necessary.
To assist with this, the Home Office has developed Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent (WRAP) training. WRAP training comprises an hour and a half-long DVD-led interactive workshop, and is aimed at ‘front line staff’ such as police, social services, and education staff (Channel Duty Guidance April 2015, p19).
As a minimum, the DfE has stated that all schools should ensure that the designated safeguarding lead has taken, or plans to imminently undertake, WRAP training – and is thus able to provide advice and support to other members of staff.
At time of press, Ofsted has not updated its framework to include these details. However, it has been reported that schools in Hertfordshire inspected at the end of last term were asked about these issues and expected to have a plan in place for whole-staff training.
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Train the trainers
Train-the-trainer accreditation is required in order to deliver WRAP training; this is an option for any member of staff to complete. More train-the-trainer sessions are being offered in the Autumn term and details are on Hertfordshire Grid for Learning (thegrid.org.uk).
HfL advisers Karin Hutchinson and Kate Stockdale have received train-the-trainer training and are rolling out centrally provided WRAP training sessions, facilitated by Hertfordshire County Council, in September and October. Regrettably, Karin and Kate will not have capacity to provide training in individual schools.
These sessions will help schools to meet the minimum requirement for one member of staff to have received WRAP training.
Herts-based accredited trainers are currently being approached to find out their willingness and availability to provide training to other schools. This information will be made available to schools in the Autumn term.
eSafety - Protecting children from the risks of online radicalisation
Schools on the HICS network are protected by a market-leading filtering platform, Netsweeper, which restricts access to inappropriate websites.
Netsweeper is a leading provider of internet content filtering and web threat management. It monitors the internet and makes sure that tens of millions of websites are correctly categorised. Throughout HICS, there is a list of words that users are restricted to search on.
In order to reduce the likelihood of radicalisation of school children, additional monitoring software is available from companies such as Impero, Securus and Future Digital produce. This software can flag up anything of concern, offers keyword recognition through internet searches and allows schools to store screenshots of unsuitable material.
As no filtering solution is 100% reliable, HfL requests that schools to work with us and report any inappropriate content to the SITSS Connectivity service desk: email@example.com