Prevent in Education

Prevent targets innocent people, making them suspects or ‘susceptible’ to ‘extremism’ by falsely linking legal ideas and beliefs to violence, outside of due process. Most of these individuals are under 18.

When he was eight years old, Adam was asked by the Prevent officers at school if he knew the Qur’an. He was then asked to recite verses he had memorised. The officers then questioned him for about an hour, alone. He told his parents they mainly asked him about his religion.”

A massive 80% of child referrals that we support come from the education sector.

This makes the securitisation of schools and educational discourse a core concern of our advocacy.

Our cases allow us to identify trends, build research, call out legal violations, 

and celebrate courage.

The “indicators of extremism” that underlie Prevent are common among children and young people, because they incorporate ordinary aspects of growing up and finding one’s way in a complex world, whilst also being religious and/or being concerned with current affairs. 

Last year’s Home Office statistics reveal that the largest portion of Prevent referrals were for young people aged 15 to 20 (32%), while children aged 14 and under accounted for 31% of referrals.

There are ways to challenge referrals, and we have the know-how to support you to do so.

It’s important to remember that this is a dynamic area. Because it is “pre-crime”, Prevent operates outside the rule of law. Each case is unique because lawyers need to find where a referral process abuses or breaks other laws.

Prevent’s pre-crime nature is harmful. For example, children can be questioned by counter-terrorism police, without the usual legal protections in place such as a having parent or guardian present. This can also be challenged.

“I mentioned the phrase ‘eco-terrorism’ in a discussion about saving the environment. I was then taken for questioning by two staff members in the ‘inclusion hut’. Suddenly, out of the blue, one of them asked me: ‘Do you have any affiliation with ISIS?’ That’s when I became really anxious.”

Prevent is especially harmful to young people

The existence of Prevent in education is largely due to the Birmingham Trojan Horse Affair. Since then, the presence of Prevent in education has been a legal duty linked to safeguarding. 

As a result, teachers, lecturers and academic staff are compelled to report young people in their care who are judged to “be at risk of radicalisation” according to flawed and vague indicators that often criminalise religious beliefs, as our cases demonstrate.

Because of the weight Ofsted gives to safeguarding, this has placed students and teachers in a toxic dynamic that erodes the trust they both require for success. 

Prevent also damages the reputation of safeguarding because it: