The updated Prevent duty guidance (England and Wales (2023), came into effect on 31st December 2023. 

The statutory ‘Prevent duty’ guidance refers to the legal obligation placed on schools, childcare providers, and other institutions to take steps to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism or extremism as part of their wider safeguarding duties. The Prevent duty is part of a broader counter-terrorism strategy known as CONTEST. 

While it remains rare for children and families to become involved in terrorist activity, children may be exposed to terrorist and extremist influences or prejudiced views from older siblings and the adults around them.  

In this article, I will be focusing on the key areas which relate to the responsibilities for early years settings.  

Safeguarding: What Are Your Legal Requirements? 

Under Schedule 6 of the Counterterrorism and Security Act 2015, the Prevent duty is a legal obligation for specified authorities, including early years settings such as nurseries, pre-schools and of course schools.  

This is reiterated in Section 3 of the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, Keeping Children Safe in Education 2023, and reflected in Ofsted’s current inspection framework for early years provision. 

Safeguarding leads, deputies and senior leaders should familiarise themselves with the revised Prevent duty guidance: for England and Wales, especially paragraphs 57-76, which are specifically concerned with schools and childcare.  

The guidance is set out in terms of four general themes:  

  1. Risk assessment 
  2. Working in partnership
  3. Staff training 
  4. IT policies.

    In addition, the safeguarding team should be aware of local procedures for making a Prevent referral. 

Preventing Radicalisation 

Children may be susceptible to extremist ideology and radicalisation. Similar to protecting children from other forms of harm and abuse, protecting children from this risk should be a part of your safeguarding approach. 

Extremism is the vocal or active opposition to our fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. This also includes calling for the death of members of the armed forces. 

Radicalisation refers to the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and extremist ideologies associated with terrorist groups. 

Terrorism is an action that endangers or causes serious violence to a person/people; causes serious property damage; or seriously interferes or disrupts an electronic system. The use or threat must be designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public and is made to advance a political, religious, or ideological cause. 

Safeguarding Early Years 

The latest EYFS guidance states the steps which providers must take to keep children safe and promote their welfare. This includes being alert to any issues of concern in the child’s life at home or elsewhere. 

This means consideration should be given to the risk of extremism and radicalisation.  

Inevitably the risk of radicalisation will vary across settings, but no area, or setting can be deemed risk-free. 

Section 3 sets out the expectations, requirements, and recommendations, by following the guidance, it will mean that you are well placed to comply with the Prevent duty. 

The guidance requires that there should be a trained designated senior person, responsible for overseeing Prevent delivery. The lead person should ensure staff complete appropriate training to understand the risk of radicalisation, manage risk, build capabilities to deal with radicalisation, share information, record keeping, escalation pathways including Prevent referrals, and understand the role they play in countering terrorism, from induction.  

For early years, the foundation stage statutory framework supports providers to do this in an age-appropriate way, by ensuring children learn right from wrong, mix and share with other children, and value others’ views. 

The British values include: 

  • Democracy 
  • The rule of law 
  • Individual liberty  
  • Mutual respect & tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. 

For early years this simply means that children should: 

  • Have opportunities to have a voice 
  • Have a clear understanding of the differences between right and wrong 
  • Accept responsibility for their behaviour 
  • Develop self-knowledge and self-confidence 
  • Show respect for others, having an appreciation of their own or other cultures. 

Will The Updates Change The Ofsted Inspection Process? 

Currently, there will be no changes to the Ofsted Inspection Framework regarding Prevent activity. Read the latest Education Inspection Framework 2023. 

What should you do now? 

  1. The lead person should read the latest statutory guidance Prevent duty guidance: for England and Wales  
  2. Review relevant setting policies and consider your Prevent risk assessment and action plan. 
  3. Be aware of The Prevent Duty: Safeguarding learners vulnerable to radicalisation. 
  4. Review your setting's training needs to determine who the appropriate members of staff are and how frequently training should occur, being proportionate to the risk of terrorism and extremism in their local area. Also, consider what type of training is needed for staff in different roles.
  5. The Home Office offers free GOV.UK online Prevent duty training to support those under the duty: Prevent Duty: Lean how to Support People Susceptible to Radicalisation. 

Consider Information Sharing to reiterate that sharing information on Prevent should be treated the same as wider safeguarding. The National Referral Form (NRF) is being rolled out nationally with the aim for all Prevent partners to adopt this approach. The referral form means that there is greater consistency of outcome both within and across a local authority. Providers should continue to follow their existing processes for sharing information about learners susceptible to radicalisation and be aware of the Prevent referral process in their local authority. It also highlights existing KCSIE expectations that, where appropriate, as with any other safeguarding concern, any Prevent concerns should be securely transferred when a child moves school or college. 

About the author:

Yvonne Sinclair: Award-Winning Safeguarding Consultant, Trainer & Founder of Safeguarding Support Ltd. Expert in Education & Child Protection.

About the author:

Yvonne Sinclair: Award-Winning Safeguarding Consultant, Trainer & Founder of Safeguarding Support Ltd. Expert in Education & Child Protection.

About the author:

Yvonne Sinclair: Award-Winning Safeguarding Consultant, Trainer & Founder of Safeguarding Support Ltd. Expert in Education & Child Protection.

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