On Tuesday, 4 July, Coventry, Durham and Huddersfield universities published a report titled What the Prevent duty means for schools and colleges in England: An analysis of educationalists’ experiences. The research explored how the Prevent duty has been interpreted by staff in schools and colleges; how confident school and college staff feel in implementing the Prevent duty; whether school and college staff think the Prevent duty has had any impact on their school, college or interactions with students and parents; and whether there has been any staff opposition to the Prevent duty.
The report included a number of positive findings such as:
- The majority of respondents in the research had engaged with and accepted that Prevent should be understood as part of colleges and schools’ safeguarding responsibilities.
- Respondents expressed high levels of confidence about implementing the Prevent duty and less than 1 in 10 described themselves either as ‘not very confident’ (5%) or ‘not confident at all’ (4%).
- 72% of respondents described themselves as very or fairly confident about having conversations with students on issues related to extremism and radicalisation.
- There were clear examples of schools, colleges and individual staff members responding to the Prevent duty through initiating or reinvigorating a range of curriculum activities.
- There was little support for the idea that the duty has led to a ‘chilling effect’ on conversations with students in the classroom.
- There were several accounts of how the Prevent duty had provided an opportunity to reinvigorate areas of work around equalities, diversity and anti-racism and how individual teachers or schools and colleges had made use of the duty to have more open discussions with students on issues relating to extremism, intolerance and inequality.
The report helpfully highlights some areas where schools may require further support and guidance. We will consider what further actions this may require to ensure that school and college staff have the support they require to safeguard our young people.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
The Prevent duty is about helping to keep our children safe and equip them with the knowledge to question extremist and radical views. This report shows that not only is there widespread understanding of this but schools and colleges are confident about how to deliver it in the classroom.
Schools and colleges also agree the suggestion Prevent shuts down debate or discussion of controversial issues is simply not the case. We will continue to help schools and colleges with the Prevent duty by providing guidance, support and teaching resources through our Educate Against Hate website.
Teachers, parents and school leaders can view resources on the Educate Against Hate website here.