Readings — From the March 2015 issue

Homeroom Security

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From “Prevent Duty Guidance: A Consultation,” a paper issued last December by the U.K. Home Office. The U.K.’s counterterrorism strategy, CONTEST, comprises four branches: Prevent, Pursue, Protect, and Prepare. Channel is a Home Office program intended to steer people away from terrorism.

All publicly funded schools are required by law to teach a broad and balanced curriculum that promotes the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development of pupils and prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities, and experiences of life. Schools should be safe spaces in which children and young people can understand and discuss sensitive topics — including terrorism and the extremist ideas that are part of the terrorist ideology — and learn how to challenge these ideas.

In fulfilling the new duty, we would expect proprietors, governors, and head teachers of schools to assess the risk of pupils being drawn into terrorism. Institutions will need to demonstrate that they have robust safeguarding policies in place, and are intervening as appropriate (by referring pupils to Channel or Children’s Social Care, for example). Institutions should ensure that fundamental British values are promoted in the delivery of the curriculum and activities, and reflected in the general conduct of the school. Senior management and governors should make sure that staff have the knowledge and confidence to identify children at risk and challenge extremist ideas that can be used to legitimize terrorism and are shared by terrorist groups. They should know where and how to refer children and young people for further help. Prevent awareness training will be a key part of this.

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