Safeguarding – Why implementing Prevent is a collective responsibility
Consistently observing the Prevent duty can be onerous – which is why adopting a whole school approach is the best way of getting the job done
Implementing the Prevent duty effectively requires consistency, transparency and above all, a whole school approach. All of this is necessary to ensure that appropriate support is available at all times for individuals who may demonstrate vulnerabilities to radicalisation.
Seen from a certain perspective, this is merely an extension of safeguarding procedures that schools will have been following for many years to protect young people from child sexual exploitation, drugs and assorted other forms of harm.
There are, however, certain issues and compliance considerations unique to Prevent and the areas it’s intended to tackle. So what can schools do to help manage those challenges in an effective, practical and ultimately sustainable way?
1. Sufficient planning
The key to formulating a successful Prevent strategy is to first carry out detailed planning that involves all members of the school community. Schools can begin this process by nominating an individual staff member as their Prevent lead, and then establishing a Prevent working group tasked with setting out a clear, shared vision.
This group could potentially include members of SLT, your DSL, the school’s PSHE/RSHE lead, any staff charged with leading on CPD and a member of the governing body.
Of course, assuming you’re able to pull together the staff you have in mind, it may not be practical for everyone to attend all sessions. The most important consideration, however, is that the working group is able to communicate effectively – chiefly by ensuring all stakeholders are regularly updated on any developments, and given opportunities to share their progress.
A good starting point for your Prevent working group’s activities could be to carry out a baseline survey to identify immediate Prevent priorities – such as building staff confidence around current vulnerabilities, or promoting a consistent understanding of what’s meant by ‘British values’.
2. Policy and practice
The working group’s initial findings and discussions should then be carefully assessed, and used to embed an overarching Prevent strategy into the wider school culture.
As well as reviewing your school’s policy and practices around Prevent, this is a good time for undertaking a risk assessment – informed by engagement with your LA’s Prevent team – of potential harms present within
This needn’t be a Prevent-specific exercise. Indeed, it could potentially be incorporated into your wider local risk assessment processes. That said, implementing the Prevent duty is far from a ‘tick-box’ exercise.
To that end, LGfL – The National Grid for Learning has partnered with the DfE to develop a Prevent Self-Assessment Tool specifically for schools, the purpose of which is to provide a practical overview of all Prevent areas to consider throughout the course of the academic year (see ‘Are you Prevent compliant?’ below).
3. Promoting British Values
Ofsted inspectors now actively look for evidence of how British values permeate throughout schools. Many settings have already undertaken some work in this area by reviewing their offerings in PSHE, RE and citizenship among other subjects, and combining these with extracurricular initiatives via assemblies, circle time, school councils and debating clubs to promote student voice and opportunities to discuss topical issues in a safe space.
Adopting a contextual approach to safeguarding is also helpful for embedding the foundational knowledge and skills that are essential for managing risk. Examples of this in action might entail conversations with young people in which they’re invited to reflect on their own personal context and any risk factors they could experience as a result – whether that be online, or via association with peers or adults.
These could then be combined with cross-curricular opportunities for building on key safeguarding themes. Teachers can make use of free resources to help facilitate discussion, build resilience to extremism and teach about fundamental British values, including LGfL’s own ‘Going Too Far’ – an interactive resource for primary and secondary schools designed to help students better understand extremism and promote critical thinking with the aid of videos, case studies and various scenario-based activities.
Schools could also consider mapping their British values both across and beyond the curriculum to provide a snapshot of where students are, and identify any potential gaps.
4. Practice online safety
The latest Prevent duty guidance for England and Wales (see bit.ly/ts122-P1) includes the requirement for schools to “ensure children are safe from terrorist and extremist material when accessing the internet in school, including by establishing appropriate levels of filtering”.
It’s important to remember that no online content filtering solution is foolproof. Schools should therefore consider adopting a holistic approach to practising online safety – for instance, by ensuring policies and user agreements are kept updated and signed off for approval; monitoring all online activity by pupils and staff; embedding age-appropriate curriculums; and promoting parental engagement in your broader safeguarding and Prevent-related efforts.
An annual online safety audit can be helpful for highlighting and clarifying the often fluid nature of technological change.
5. Communicate, review and monitor
Only through clear communication and consistent messaging will you be able to sustain awareness of your strategy across the school community.
That said, it’s also important to also ensure that all staff have received relevant training (which is subsequently logged) and that regular updates are provided at staff briefings. It’s worth encouraging governors to attend safeguarding sessions and any relevant staff training or assemblies, if possible, alongside the scrutiny they should already be undertaking of your Prevent policy and practice.
You could additionally invite parents to attend a session aimed at raising awareness of wider safeguarding issues. Include some discussion of Prevent within the context of online safety concerns, and emphasise the part that parents can play in supporting your school’s policies at home.
Finally, be sure to factor in time for reviewing, monitoring and evaluating your strategy via regular meetings with your Prevent or safeguarding team.
Are you Prevent compliant?
The Prevent duty requires schools to meet a set of requirements under the following seven key areas:
- Leadership and management
- Risk assessment
- Working in partnership
- Online safety
- Safeguarding school premises
- Building children’s resilience to radicalisation
Mubina Asaria is a safeguarding consultant at the edtech charity LGfL – The National Grid for Learning; for more information, visit lgfl.net or follow @LGfL