September 2016

The know zone

  • Leading curriculum change
    When we reflect on how quickly our world is evolving, it is no truism to say that what we design into our curriculum really matters says Suzanne O’Farrell. More
  • Carrots, sticks and Shanghai maths
    Julie McCulloch looks at the government’s latest initiative to introduce the South Asian ‘mastery’ approach to teaching maths in primary schools. More
  • Preventing hate
    Schools and colleges across Britain are seeing a rise in the levels of racism among pupils. Anna Cole looks at why and explains what leaders can do to combat hate. More
  • Exploring the evidence
    In the first of a regular research insights page, Matt Walker, from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), introduces how research evidence can help to improve schools and colleges, and influence policy. More
  • A vital network of support
    Focus on… Macmillan Cancer Support More
  • Adding value
    Centralisation – the key to achieving financial health and efficiency? More
  • Prevent duty
    Since July 2015, all schools and colleges have been subject to the Prevent duty. How has your institution dealt with this requirement and have there been any challenges? Here ASCL members have their say. More
  • Leader's surgery
    Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting. More
  • Daily grind?
    Sam Ellis offers some tips for the out-of-town traveller in search of a bed for the night and decent food – although perhaps not an espresso. More
Bookmark and Share

Since July 2015, all schools and colleges have been subject to the Prevent duty. How has your institution dealt with this requirement and have there been any challenges? Here ASCL members have their say.

Prevent duty


We’ve ensured that all staff have had up-to-date training and know how to refer any concern they have regarding potential radicalisation. Challenges include staff struggling to accept that any student could be under such influence, making a referral based on ‘feeling’ or ‘instinct’ without any concrete evidence and then doubting their own judgement (even when it’s valid) and discerning between ‘jokey’ comments made by teenagers and the real thing.

One additional challenge we faced recently was the lack of response speed when we did make a Channel referral to the local police Prevent team – three weeks on, they still haven’t visited the home. (Name and details supplied)

CPD is key

Over the past 18 months, we have looked carefully at how to embed the Prevent duty into our wider safeguarding policies and approach within school. However, what we have found to be really effective is some excellent continuing professional development (CPD) sessions using different scenarios. This idea originated from some ASCL Prevent training that members of our senior leadership team (SLT) attended in 2015. Working in small groups both teaching and support staff looked at possible situations or comments that students either may be involved in or may say. For example:

A student in history says: “Hitler wasn’t all bad, was he? He gave Germany her pride back and he gave people jobs.” How should staff react and respond to this type of comment? A student in Year 12 comes into school the day after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris and says, “They had it coming to them.” How do you respond and would you respond differently if this were a student in Year 7, 8 or 9?

How do you respond to questions or comments such as: “Why are they all coming here then…?”

This then gave staff the opportunity to discuss how they would respond but also led to discussions about how all staff could take a more consistent approach when dealing with students and their comments. Alongside this, we have also looked at our personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) curriculum to ensure we are covering the appropriate content. Finally, we have asked all departments to look at encouraging students to think more critically in their subject so that they can apply this skill when challenging peers’ comments or when coming across extreme views and opinions from other sources. 

Mariella Wilson

Principal, Feltham Community College , Middlesex

Engage with young people

I would like to think that the Prevent duty has allowed us to build on meaningful and rich dialogues with students and engage them in passionate debate about their own society and their place within the world. At the same time, it will have allowed them to make sense of events that they see on the news and their personal responses to global tensions.

For us, potential radicalisation is in the context of a school whose student population is 98% white British, mainly working class in former coal mining communities. The British National Party (BNP) is very active in the area and holds an annual rally within a few miles. We have had robust discussions on what they consider fundamental British values to be and this has allowed them to express some extremely inclusive and global views on society, mixing the quaint idiosyncrasies of traditional British culture with a passionate belief in tolerance, liberty, democracy and freedom of speech. It has proved a rewarding process, once again highlighting that young people, appropriately educated and given a voice, are the future of our society, the key to solutions and certainly not the root of the problem.

If only the atrociously behaved politicians spewing their vitriol in the European Union (EU) debate had a fraction of the humanity and understanding of the young… (Name and details supplied)

Appropriate filtering

One of the most popular questions received by the UK Safer Internet Centre (UKSIC) helpline from schools was, “We have to ensure appropriate levels of filtering are in place to make sure children are not exposed to extremist or terrorist content – can you let me know what ‘appropriate’ means?” The question was impossible to answer as no description or definition was provided. The release of the DfE’s revisited Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) statutory guidance this May provided further expectation on schools to provide appropriate monitoring systems.

After an extensive consultative period, UKSIC has published guidance for schools ( The purpose of the definitions is to support schools in reviewing current and planned filtering and monitoring systems as well as helping providers to develop systems that are suited to school needs and help to safeguard children online.

Ron Richards

E-Safety Consultant, South West Grid for Learning

Former headteacher of Priory Community School in Weston-super-Mare