House of Commons Library

Counter-extremism policy in English schools

Published Friday, January 20, 2017

This briefing sets out duties on schools in England to safeguard children from extremism, and promote British values, and related policy debates.

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Schools, both state-funded and independent, have a range of duties in relation to safeguarding children from extremism.  The protection of children from radicalisation, and the promotion of British values are part of the inspection regime to which schools are subject.

In recent times the Government has taken further action to strengthen the duties on schools, in particular with the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, which put the Government’s ‘Prevent’ counter-extremism strategy on a statutory footing, and places duties on schools to prevent children being radicalised and drawn into terrorism.  The Government has also sought to strengthen schools’ abilities to address a wide range of potential concerns relating to radicalisation, such as the potential for children to be groomed through social media and encouraged to travel to Syria by ISIS.

During the last Parliament, the ‘Trojan Horse’ affair in Birmingham schools raised concerns that extremist ideology could be spread through the school system through school leadership, which prompted a series of inquiries and subsequently action by the then Coalition Government, including the move to the promotion of British values in schools.

This briefing provides an overview of these areas and the requirements on schools in countering extremist ideology and the potential for pupils to be radicalised.  As schools policy is a devolved area, this briefing focuses on the position in England, and the guidance and advice published by the Department for Education.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7345

Author: Robert Long

Topics: Schools, Terrorism

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