The government prevent strategy
The Prevent strategy
The government prevent strategy was brought into practice due to the UK level if threat from international terrorism being analysed as severe (4th highest out of the 5 levels). The most significant terrorist threats to the UK come from Al Qa’ida based in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Home Office work to counter terrorism based on 4 areas- pursue, prevent, protect and prepare and the prevent strategy includes working with schools and other educational establishments to prevent extremism.
“There have been allegations that a minority of independent faith schools have been actively promoting views that are contrary to British values, such as intolerance of other cultures and gender inequality. There have also been reports that some independent faith schools have allowed extremist views to be expressed by staff, visitors or pupils”. Prevent strategy
Over the last few years in England, the DfE engaged in a range of Prevent-related initiatives through a dedicated Prevent team. Following an informal consultation process with headteachers and local authority children’s services they published a toolkit to help schools prevent ‘violent extremism’.
CHANNEL duty guidance
The Channel duty guidance protects vulnerable people from being drawn into terrorism. Channel ensures that vulnerable children and adults of any faith, ethnicity or background receive support before their vulnerabilities are exploited by those that would want them to embrace terrorism, and before they become involved in criminal terrorist related activity
Prevent for schools
Schools can prevent extremism though:
- A curriculum which is adapted to recognise local needs, challenge extremist narratives and promote universal rights
- Teaching and learning strategies which explore controversial issues in a way which promotes critical analysis and pro-social values
- The use of external programmes or groups to support learning while ensuring that the input supports the college goals and values
The aim is to ensure students become responsible citizens, confident individuals and successful learners.
Partially, this is about recognising opportune moments to discuss opinions and views of students and offer appropriate guidance and challenge. However, it is more proactive to have a defined curriculum or schedule of educational events to ensure that all students are educated about extremism. At the same time it is important not to misrepresent extremism. When the scheme first came into play, there were a few governmental policy disasters along the way which stigmatised muslims. The BBC published an interesting article on this.
Delivering prevent in schools
In 2014 the DfE introduced guidance to promote British values as a part of SMSC. This encourages education about respect and tolerance as well as law, democracy and liberty. And yes, all of this is to be taught in addition to the standard curriculum. While afternoons or whole days off timetable can be utilised to deliver these key messages, the best practice is to dedicate regular time to educate students about a wider range of issues that our society now face. Combining this lesson with other aspects of SMSC and or PSHE creates an effective education for students. As SMSC and PSHE are often delivered by all staff, good practice to ensure high standards and consistency is to use prepared material and resources which can be supplemented with additional materials if necessary.