A new website is being set up to give parents and teachers advice on protecting children from extremism, as part of a raft of new government measures aimed at keeping children safe from “the spell of twisted ideologies”.
There will be an escalation of Ofsted’s investigations into unregistered, illegal schools, and tougher action to prosecute these schools. This will include giving the watchdog more resources to carry out inquiries, according to the Department for Education (DfE).
There will also be a consultation on registering children that go missing from school. It is understood that a child missing from school is any youngster of compulsory school-age who is not registered at a school or who is not receiving a suitable education. This means that the consultation could cover youngsters who are home-schooled.
Education secretary Nicky Morgan said: “We are determined to keep children safe in and out of school. Today’s announcement of resources and tougher powers to protect young, impressionable minds from radical views sends a clear message to extremists: our children are firmly out of your reach.”
The new Educate Against Hate website will offer advice based on resources and guidance drawn up by the Government and charities including the NSPCC and Childnet.
It will be launched by ministers at Bethnal Green Academy in East London. The academy was in the news last year after it was revealed that three female pupils – Shamima Begum, Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase – were feared to have travelled to Syria.
The DfE said that since then the school had been has been “working hard to promote best practice in this area”.
“Educate Against Hate will provide teachers and parents with the expertise they need to challenge radical views and keep their children safe,” Ms Morgan said. “Our tougher stand against illegal schools will help prevent children from falling under the grasp of extremists.
“And by improving intelligence on where children go when they deregister from schools, we will help prevent future incidents of young, promising children falling under the spell of twisted ideologies.”
Security minister John Hayes said: “We have seen all too starkly and tragically the devastating impact radicalisation can have on individuals, families and communities. Terrorists have targeted our young people with their poisonous propaganda with terrible consequences.”
The measures are the latest in a series of reforms announced by the government to tackle extremism.
Last month, it was revealed that schools are be told to set filters and monitor pupils’ internet access, amid growing concerns that some youngsters are at risk of being targeted by extremist groups, and a number of high-profile cases involving schoolchildren travelling, or attempting to travel, to Syria.
Ministers said that in some cases, young people had been able to access information about self-proclaimed Islamic State, otherwise known as Daesh, and foreign fighters through school computers.
In the same month, Ms Morgan announced that she had asked Ofsted to prepare cases for prosecution against three unregistered schools in Birmingham.