A safe space

Schools have a legal duty, called the Prevent duty, to “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. Schools already play an important role in keeping children and young people safe from harm. As a school leader you are in a key position to protect them from extremist narratives.

Schools already help to safeguard students from drug abuse, gangs, neglect and sexual exploitation. Radicalisation has a similarly devastating effect on young people, families and communities. Protecting students from the influence of extremist ideas is therefore an important part of a school’s safeguarding role.

Young people are particularly vulnerable to radicalisation. Many teenagers look for answers to questions about identity, faith and belonging, and are in search of adventure and excitement. Extremist groups, whether Islamist or far-right, claim to offer the answers and promise vulnerable young people a sense of identity. Though instances are rare, even very young children may be exposed to extremism, both inside and outside the home, and online.

Many young people also spend a lot of time online which exposes them to additional risks. Extremist groups’ use of internet and social media has become a prolific way for them to spread their ideology. The IT systems in place in your school help to protect students from this, and a range of other online risks. More information is available in the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance.

By fostering a strong school ethos and values-based education, and actively promoting the fundamental British value of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs, you can increase your students’ resilience to extremist narratives and prepare them for life in modern Britain.

Resources

A downloadable booklet for school leaders about how to safeguard against extremism in your school, produced by Educate Against Hate.

A guide for schools about the use of social media to radicalise young people online. The document particularly covers the ways social media is used to encourage travel to Syria and Iraq and includes a short summary of some of the main Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) propaganda claims, identifies social media sites which ISIL is using and advises what actions schools and teachers should take to protect pupils.

Statutory guidance for local authorities and agencies working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in their care. The Children Acts of 1989 and 2004 set out specific duties of the local authority to undertake enquiries if they believe a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm. These duties can only be discharged with the full co-operation of other partners and other agencies. Everyone who comes into contact with children and families has a role to play and this advice sets out clearly the principles and key areas of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

A framework to facilitate classroom discussions in the event of a terrorist attack.