The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Elizabeth Holmes

The Prevent duty – guidance and training for schools

What can schools do to help keep children and young people safe from radicalisation and extremism? Elizabeth Holmes provides a summary of essential guidance, documents and training resources.

Keeping children safe from radicalisation and extremism is now a top priority with important responsibilities under section 29 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 resting on schools and teachers. While this can seem utterly daunting, especially for those new to the profession (conversations with student teachers and NQTs are a testament to that), much guidance exists that can be used in-house for professional development purposes.

Although the Prevent duty is crucial, it won’t weigh heavily if time isn't given for effective professional development on the issue. This round up of existing advice and guidance may help in the planning of professional development for your school.

Prevent duty guidance

The government recently revised its statutory Prevent duty guidance for schools. There are new versions for schools in England and Wales and for schools in Scotland. This guidance gives a specific focus on schools and registered childcare providers (excluding further and higher education) and offers the reminder that all publicly funded schools in England are already required to provide a curriculum which is broad and balanced, promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life.

Schools must also promote community cohesion. While schools' responsibilities for preventing extremism and radicalisation are great, it is obvious that this brief sits well within the day to day work of schools. Keeping children safe is key.

The guidance states that specified authorities need to make sure that ‘staff have training that gives them the knowledge and confidence to identify children 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. They should know where and how to refer children and young people for further help.’

In order to support schools in this work, the DfE has issued practical advice on the Prevent duty to complement the statutory guidance. This makes clear the importance of training to equip staff not only to identify children at risk of being dragged into terrorism but also to challenge extremist views that might be aired in school. There is a training product, Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent (WRAP), developed by the Home Office, to help ensure that staff feel confident. Your local authority, police force, health service or further and higher education institutions may be able to deliver WRAP training by trained facilitators. Email for further information.

It is up to schools to assess their training needs based on an assessment of risk. The designated safeguarding lead should at least undertake Prevent awareness training and be able to support colleagues where required.

Find out more at Prevent: understanding your duty or download their Prevent toolkit.

The DfE and Home Office also issued a briefing note on how social media is used to encourage travel to Syria and Iraq. Being aware of the ways in which some users of social media may be influencing children and young people will help schools to be vigilant about the signs of radicalisation.

Channel guidance is also available for schools. It is a programme focusing on early stage support for people who are identified as being at risk of being drawn into terrorism and extremism. Channel also offers a general awareness training module, useful as an introduction to the topics and themes covered by the Duty. Of particular interest to schools will be ways of identifying factors which make people vulnerable to radicalisation. The case studies included here will also be useful.

What to do if you are concerned about extremism in your school

Government advice suggests that teachers with concerns about extremism and radicalisation in their schools should follow exactly the same internal procedures that they would follow for any other safeguarding issue. For example:

  • pass the information to the safeguarding lead
  • safeguarding lead contacts the local authority where appropriate
  • if there is immediate risk of danger, contact the police.

Raising concerns about extremism to the Department for Education

There is a Department telephone helpline so that schools can raise concerns relating to extremism directly, as well as seeking advice on the Prevent Duty. Helpline: 020 7340 7264 Email:

Further resources



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