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Education: Counter-terrorism

Question for Department for Education

UIN 28341, tabled on 6 July 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 28 June 2021 to Question 20549 on Education: Counter-terrorism, what assessment he has made of the potential risk of discriminatory biases when school staff exercise their discretion on referrals to Prevent.

Answered on

12 July 2021

The Prevent strategy is designed to safeguard and support vulnerable people to prevent them from being drawn into terrorism. Prevent does not target specific faiths or ethnic groups, or children - it deals with all forms of extremism.

The Department trusts teachers and other staff to exercise their professional judgment about whether a Prevent referral is appropriate, as they do for all other safeguarding concerns. Teachers are subject to professional requirements to safeguard pupil wellbeing, whilst understanding, and acting within, statutory frameworks such as the Equality Act 2010.

Through teacher referrals, local authorities can ensure that support is obtained for children and young people who may be being exploited by radicalising influences. A referral allows for a multi-agency safeguarding assessment to be conducted, where all referrals are carefully assessed based on the specific details of the case. If a vulnerable individual is found to not be at risk of radicalisation, the case is immediately closed to Prevent. In these instances, they may be referred to other appropriate safeguarding services so that they can receive the support they need, or no further action may be taken.

Through Prevent training, the Department is equipping frontline professionals with the skills and knowledge to safeguard vulnerable individuals from radicalisation. There is specific e-learning available to ensure that when a referral is made, it is robust, informed and with good intention, and that the response to that concern is considered, and proportionate. This e-learning is available at: https://www.elearning.prevent.homeoffice.gov.uk/prevent_referrals/01-welcome.html.

The Government is committed to assessing the effectiveness of the Prevent strategy, which is why an independent review of Prevent is being carried out. The reviewer will be able to consider criticisms and complaints of the current approach, as well as how best to improve the UK’s strategy to support people vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism.

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