Safeguarding against radicalisation in school

Karen Foster

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Radicalisation: ‘the action or process of causing someone to adopt radical positions on political, religious or social issues.’

Extremism: ‘advocating or supporting extreme measures or views’

Terrorism: ‘an act or threat designed to influence government or those in authority, or to intimidate or cause fear to the public’

Prevent is one of four parts of the Government’s Counter-Terrorism and Security strategy Contest. The aim of the Prevent strategy is to reduce the threat to the UK from terrorism by stopping people from becoming drawn into extremist ideology or supporting terrorism.

There is now a legal duty on public bodies to:

‘...have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’

But in reality what does this look like for schools, and as a practitioner and/or school leader, what are your responsibilities to ensure that you are identifying and challenging students to address and recognise radicalisation?

Those with extremist views are now actively recruiting young people via social media. Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp have been heavily criticised for not doing more to tackle illegal extremist content that has been posted using their sites.

safety first

Home Office statistics for 2017/18 showed that 7,318 people in the UK had a Prevent referral made to a Channel panel. Of those referred, 2,009 were aged under 15 yrs (an increase of 339 from 2016/17) and 2,135 were aged between 15 – 20 yrs (an increase of 318 from 2016/17); over half of the total referrals were children and young adults, and the majority of the referring agencies were schools.

Statistics for 2017/18 also showed that there is very little difference in the referral rate for concerns around Isis and Far Right ideology. However, it is important to understand that there has been a growth in a wealth of extreme and intolerant ideologies with others including white supremacy, antisemitism, animal rights activists, & homophobia.

These statistics show that children and young people are more susceptible to being radicalised, and schools play a very important part in identifying and supporting those who are displaying extremist behaviours.

A referral to channel happens at the point where no criminal activity has taken place.

However engaging with the channel process is voluntary; people cannot be mandated to engage with or access the support offered, and often it is left to the referring organisation to take on the responsibility of engaging that person, opening up that dialogue, and giving them that different point of view.

Every school should have a policy that covers the Prevent Duty, and this must be published on their school website; this is a statutory Ofsted requirement. This policy should outline how the school intend to carry out their duties, as outlined in the statutory guidance.

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Key things that schools should be doing:

Promote fundamental British values

“Democracy; the rule of law; individual liberty; mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith” (Prevent Duty Guidance). Allow for honest and open debate about the risk of terrorism and extremism, however, be aware of possible political indoctrination and ensure a balanced presentation of political issues and views.

Assess the risk of children and staff being drawn into terrorism and support for extremism

Ensure all visiting speakers are supervised and the content of their delivery observed by school staff. Relevant vetting and safeguarding checks to be carried out prior to the visit.

Train staff to give them the knowledge and confidence to identify those at risk

Training that gives all staff the knowledge and confidence to identify those who may be at risk of being drawn into terrorism, and to challenge extremist ideas which can be used to legitimise terrorism and are shared by terrorist groups.

Protect children, young people and adults at risk from terrorist and extremist material when accessing the internet

Ensuring there are appropriate levels of filtering to stop children and staff from searching for inappropriate extremist content online.

Ensure robust safeguarding policies are in place to identify those at risk, intervene and refer as appropriate

Comprehensive safeguarding and E-safety policies and procedures in place to keep all children and staff safe and also identify those who may be of risk, and if necessary referring appropriately to either Children’s Social Care, Adult Social Care or Channel for support.

Knowing the schools’ policy on who to report concerns to; namely the Designated Safeguarding Lead and the Single Point of Contact (SPOC).


About our Community Expert



Community Expert

As an experienced practitioner Child Protection, Safeguarding and Behaviour are key areas for much of Karen’s expertise and experience. She has been working with children, young people and adults for over 15 years in a multitude of settings which include dance and performing arts companies, local authorities, youth clubs, education and the welfare to work sector.

Karen’s main expertise is in safeguarding and behaviour management and modification strategies, with her most recent role being a national Safeguarding Lead. Karen has also been a school governor for nine years, two of which have been as Vice-Chair.

Karen has also run a behaviour unit (inclusive PRU) within an Academy and worked with the most disaffected students whose behaviour was disruptive who weren’t accessing the curriculum within the mainstream setting. She has and also worked with disaffected young people within a youth club, most of whom were at risk of permanent exclusion and carried out safeguarding audits whilst working for a multi-academy trust.

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