Press release: New drive to protect children from “spell of twisted ideologies”

Parents and teachers will be able to access help to protect children from radical views via a landmark new website offering advice on preventing extremism, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced today (19 January 2016) as part of a drive to protect children from the “spell of twisted ideologies”.

At Bethnal Green Academy, an East London school that has been working hard to promote best practice in this area since 4 girls from the school left for Syria, the Education Secretary launched the Educate Against Hate website, which offers parents, teachers and school leaders practical advice to protect children from the dangers of extremism, drawing on resources and guidance designed by the government and charities such as the NSPCC and Childnet.

Educate Against Hate and further measures to protect children in and out of school announced today are designed to help those closest to children to keep them safe from extreme views. The move comes the day after the Prime Minister announced a £20 million fund for English tuition aimed at helping Muslim women integrate into the wider community.

At Bethnal Green Academy, joined by headteachers and parents from across Tower Hamlets, the Education Secretary also announced today:

  • a significant escalation of Ofsted investigations into unregistered, illegal independent schools, following the closure of 3 unregistered schools in Birmingham before Christmas
  • a new tougher approach to prosecuting illegal unregistered schools, including publishing details of when the government will take forward prosecutions and a call to local authorities to identify any settings of concerns that Ofsted can follow through, with a commitment to strengthen closure powers
  • a consultation on registering children that go missing from school, improving information shared between schools and local authorities, to reduce the risk that children taken out of school go missing, following Ofsted inspections of schools in Tower Hamlets and Birmingham last year

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.

Educate Against Hate will provide teachers and parents with the expertise they need to challenge radical views and keep their children safe. 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.

There will be no single knockout blow against those who seek to corrupt young people – but the action we are taking to protect children, inform parents and support teachers will put us firmly on the front foot.

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.

I am delighted to support the launch of the Educate Against Hate website, which was created in response to requests from both teachers and parents for more information about the risks posed by radicalisation, the signs to look out for and advice on where to turn to for support if they are concerned.

This is ultimately a safeguarding issue. Protecting those who are vulnerable and at risk is a job for us all. Schools play a vital role in shielding pupils from the dangers of radicalisation – it is part of the pastoral care that I know all good teachers take so seriously.

Mark Keary, Principal of Bethnal Green Academy and CEO of Green Spring Education Trust, said:

Educators have a crucial role to play in protecting children from the threat of radical views and we are delighted to be supporting the launch of the Educate Against Hate website – a vital tool for schools and parents concerned about radicalisation.

We will continue to draw on our experiences to help inform and shape policy, share best practice and work collaboratively with colleagues to find solutions to protect and keep our children safe from harm.

Peter Wanless, CEO of NSPCC, said:

Our mission is to keep children safe from harm. We are contacted daily by worried parents and children themselves on all sorts of issues including radicalisation and dangers associated with extremism.

Spotting the signs of such abuse has never been more important if we are to help protect children from sexual exploitation, gang related activity or other hate crimes. Together we must help equip young people with a resilience and confidence in understanding and judging the risks associated with growing up, while ensuring adults are alive to identifying tell-tale signs of exploitation so they can be rapidly addressed.

Last month the government announced that all schools must put in place strengthened measures to protect children from harm online – including the risk of radicalisation – after concerns that children who travelled or attempted to travel to Syria were able to access material about Daesh and foreign fighters via school computers.

Building young people’s resilience and promoting fundamental British values lies at the heart of the government’s approach to preventing radicalisation, and this includes ensuring those closest to children are fully equipped to prevent extremist views from affecting children.

In July last year the government issued new advice to all schools and childcare providers to coincide with the new prevent duty and social media guidance, introduced as part of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, which legally requires a range of organisations including schools, local authorities, prisons, police and health bodies to take steps to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.

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