Prevent Watch

Sec Ed: Is the Prevent duty in education fit for purpose?

prevent duty in education islamophobia uk
The long-term presence of the Prevent duty in education in the UK has meant that there has been an increase of 16% for referrals of young people and children, year-on-year, but disturbing cases of students being persecuted for legitimate protest or making flippant remarks raise fears that deep prejudice has infected the government’s anti-terrorism strategy, writes Peter Radford for Sec Ed.

When I first heard a colleague at Amnesty International mention that the charity was launching a campaign to call on the government to scrap the Prevent Duty my response was: Why?

For those of us working in schools the Prevent duty forms part of our regular safeguarding updates.

In that regard, it is presented and understood as “common sense” guidance to help prevent vulnerable young people from being drawn into extremist groups and developing extreme ideas which could pose a future threat.

What could possibly be wrong with that? I had never given it a second thought.

So I was shocked to discover that in reality, far from being safeguarded by the duty, many often-vulnerable young people are being unfairly discriminated against and viewed with suspicion and fear simply because of their race, religion, or neuro-diversity.

As Dr Layla Aitlhadj, the director of Prevent Watch and co-author of the People’s Review of Prevent, has said that young people “should be able to develop their ideas and have them discussed and challenged in an environment that supports them”.

When we perpetuate a culture of fear, we undermine free speech as well as good quality teaching and learning. We also lose the opportunities to educate through conversations about the effects of behaviour and language and through dialoguing with people of different persuasions than our own.

Read more on Sec Ed.


‘Scrap’ Prevent, says Amnesty report ‘This is the Thought Police’ (Report)

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