Safeguarding includes protecting children from extremist views, according to police guidance
about what Prevent* means for schools. Safeguarding met requirements in sixteen of the twenty-one schools visited by Ofsted as part of its Trojan Horse investigations.
Education Secretary Michael Gove missed this encouraging news from his Commons statement
. Instead, he implied judgements on leadership and management were full inspection results which damned all but three of the schools. This was misleading
Despite the fact that safeguarding met requirements in sixteen schools, inspectors commented about engagement with Prevent in eleven of them.
There appears to be some inconsistency here. The Ofsted Schools Inspection Handbook, revised April 2014, tells inspectors that when judging behaviour and safety they should take into account:
“…the extent to which pupils are able to understand, respond to and calculate risk effectively, for example risks associated with extremism.”
Extremism is defined as including “risks associated with e-safety, substance misuse, knives and gangs, relationships (including sexual relationships), water, fire, roads and railways.”
Nowhere are inspectors asked to judge a school’s engagement with Prevent.
Not all local authorities (LAs) have been enthusiastic about Prevent especially in its insistence that Prevent should be separated from promoting community cohesion. This separation is odd considering the Prevent strategy review
said “Prevent depends on integration, democratic participation and a strong interfaith dialogue.”
One LA initially reluctant to embrace Prevent was Leicester City Council which had built up strong relationships with local groups. Leicester was fearful Prevent would damage these ties. When the City eventually engaged with Labour’s Prevent strategy, it renamed it ‘Mainstreaming Moderation’ and focussed on all forms of extremism not just Al’Qaeda.
When Teresa May relaunched Prevent in 2011, Leicester was again reluctant. Since 2012, however, it’s been delivered by an inter-faith centre and focuses on integration. The centre is also responsible for the DCLG** programme, “Near Neighbours”. In Leicester it would be difficult, therefore, to split Prevent from community cohesion. But the Government hopes to make it a legal requirement for councils to implement Prevent without taking into account local circumstances. This could be counter-productive.
Birmingham, however, embraced Prevent. But it’s in Birmingham that Prevent seems to have been least successful (see here
). This bodes ill for making it mandatory for LAs to implement Prevent.
Even the Education Secretary and Home Secretary can’t agree on how best to put Prevent into operation. And ACPO advice
dated 2013 contains links to out-of-date Government guidance no longer available.
So, given the confusion and controversy surrounding Prevent, should Ofsted comment about schools’ engagement with it? Inspectors are expected to judge how effectively a school keeps pupils safe from risks including extremism, but is it a step too far to criticise schools that don’t explicitly engage with Prevent?
19 June 2014. The Telegraph
, January 2013, reported on a leaked "secret" DfE memo about "socially conservative" faith schools. The memo referred to extremism with particular reference to new Independent School Standards which will require private schools to promote respect for “fundamental British values” . The report claimed:
'Ofsted has not yet trained its inspectors in how to enforce such standards but it is introducing a “specialist cadre” of inspectors to look at faith schools as part of a planned “prioritised inspection programme.'
'However, the education department has admitted in briefings that it can only look at the “ethos” of independent schools, rather than how they are actually run.'
'And the department says it has failed to measure the mindset in state schools because it cannot work out how to “detect” extremism or a “baseline” to start from.'
The Telegraph article may or may not be accurate (it was criticised for factual inaccuracies and failing to give a balanced view here), but it would appear that 18 months ago Ofsted inspectors of Independent Schools hadn't received their training and the DfE couldn't work out how to detect extremism in state schools.
19 June 2014 The DfE has a Due Diligence and Counter Extremism Division. The only information I've found about its remit is that it's responsible for checking the background of free school proposers. Any further information about what this Division actually does would be welcome.
*Prevent is part of the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy.
**Department for Communities and Local Government
The Ofsted Inspection Handbook can be downloaded here
. The data re whether safeguarding met requirements can be found in the table at the bottom of the Advice Note sent by chief HMI Sir Michael Wilshaw to Michael Gove. The Note can be downloaded here