MORE than 80 per cent of school leaders are confident about implementing the Government’s anti-extremism Prevent strategy, a Department for Education (DfE) teachers’ omnibus survey has suggested.
The figure is quoted in the Government’s newly published response to comments and recommendations in the Joint Committee on Human Rights’ report on extremism and hate crime.
The committee reported “anecdotal evidence” of concerns about the impact of the Prevent duty on schools, and recommended that “referrals are made in a sensible and proportionate fashion”. It also called for measures that would enable “dangerous myths” about Prevent to be dispelled.
Schools should see protecting pupils from the risk of extremism as part of their wider safeguarding duties, the Government response said. DfE guidance on the Prevent duty made it clear that if teachers had concerns about pupils, they should follow normal safeguarding procedures and act proportionately. There was no mandatory reporting requirement under the Duty, the response emphasised.
“We are also working with schools and communities to to improve understanding of the Duty and to make clear that it is about safeguarding and to prevent young people from being drawn into the dangers of terrorism,” the Government response said.
The committee had expressed concern about the proposed regulation of “out of school” settings, including those involved in religious instruction. New safeguarding measures should not be specifically aimed at religious activities, the report said. “Nor are we convinced that existing safeguarding measures are inadequate,” the report said.
In response, the Government said that “out-of-school settings” fell outside the legal frameworks that applied in schools to child protection and education. Because these were not mandatory in “out-of-school settings”, children were more vulnerable to harm.
“Our proposals to regulate them are therefore aimed at ensuring that action can be taken where there are genuine concerns that they are failing to ensure the safety and welfare of children,” the response said; the Government would work with faith communities in drawing up proposals.