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Preventing radicalisation and extremism

Radicalisation refers to the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and forms of extremism.  There is no single way of identifying an individual who is likely to be susceptible to an extremist ideology. It can happen in many different ways and settings.  Specific background factors may contribute to vulnerability which are often combined with specific influences such as family, friends or online, and with specific needs for which an extremist or terrorist group may appear to provide an answer.  The internet and the use of social media in particular has become a major factor in the radicalisation of young people.

Extremism is vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.  This also includes calls for the death of members of the British armed forces, whether in this country or overseas.

Understanding radicalisation and extremism toolkit has been produced to support practicioners who work with children and young people in Solihull

The Prevent duty and schools

From 1 July 2015, all schools are subject to a duty under section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, in the exercise of their functions to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

Making a prevent referral

Following confirmation or disclosure of potential radicalisation or violent extremism by a child/young person/family member, community member to an adult in school, schools are expected to assess the risk of children being drawn into terrorism, including support for extremist ideas that are part of terrorist ideology. Guidance on assessing risk is provided below –

  • If the concern meets threshold 4 of the Solihull multi-agency thresholds, a referral to MASH must be made in line with the school child protection policy. An e-mail referral must also be sent to the PREVENT Inbox:
  • If the child is at risk of significant harm, this includes travel to Syria, then a referral to Solihull MASH must be made in line with the school child protection policy. An email referral must also be sent to the PREVENT Inbox:
  • If the concern is below threshold 4 of the Solihull multi-agency thresholds, an e-mail referral must be sent to the PREVENT Inbox: The school must act on the PREVENT Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) advice, the CTU may take the case forward as a referral, alternatively they may advise the school to make a MASH referral or instigate early help.

You may also be asked to complete a prevent referral form and submit it to the CTU gateway.

Engagement with parents / the family is also important as they are in a key position to spot signs of radicalisation.  It is important to assist and advise families who raise concerns and be able to point them to the right support mechanism.

Risk assessment guidance for schools on assessing risk

Schools and childcare providers are expected to assess the risk of children being drawn into terrorism, including support for extremist ideas.  This means being able to demonstrate both a general understanding of the risks affecting children and young people in the area and a specific understanding of how to identify individual children who may be at risk of radicalisation and what to do to support them.

The general risks affecting children and young people may vary from area to area, and according to their age.  Schools and childcare providers are in an important position to identify risks within a given local context. It is important that schools and childcare providers understand these risks so that they can respond in an appropriate and proportionate way.  At the same time, schools and childcare providers should be aware of the increased risk of online radicalisation, as terrorist organisations seek to radicalise young people through the use of social media and the internet.

There is no single way of identifying an individual who is likely to be susceptible to a terrorist ideology.  As with managing other safeguarding risks, staff should be alert to changes in children’s behaviour that could indicate that they may be in need of help or protection.  Children at risk of radicalisation may display different signs or seek to hide their views.  School staff should use their professional judgement identifying children who might be at risk of radicalisation and act proportionately.

Pupils may become susceptible to radicalisation through a range of social, personal and environmental factors – it is known that violent extremists exploit vulnerabilities in individuals to drive a wedge between them and their families and communities.  It is vital that school staff are able to recognise those vulnerabilities.

Indicators of vulnerability include:

  • Identity crisis – the pupil is distanced from their cultural / religious heritage and experiences discomfort about their place in society;
  • Personal crisis – the pupil may be experiencing family tensions; chaotic family background; a sense of isolation; and low self-esteem; bereavement; they may have dissociated from their existing friendship group and become involved with a new and different group of friends; demonstrating controlling behaviour; they may be searching for answers to questions about identity, faith and belonging;
  • Personal circumstances – migration; local community tensions; and events affecting the pupil’s country or region of origin may contribute to a sense of grievance that is triggered by personal experience of racism or discrimination or aspects of government policy;
  • Unmet aspirations – the pupil may have perceptions of injustice; a feeling of failure; rejection of civic life;
  • Experiences of criminality – which may include involvement with criminal groups, imprisonment, and poor resettlement / reintegration;
  • Expressing hatred to others or a group;
  • Lack of trust in authorities;
  • Inappropriate on line behaviour (inappropriate internet contact and content);
  • Special educational need (SEN) – pupils may experience difficulties with social interaction, empathy with others, understanding the consequences of their actions and awareness of the motivations of others;
  • Not in education, employment or training, unemployed.

However, this list is not exhaustive, nor does it mean that all young people experiencing the above are at risk of radicalisation for the purposes of violent extremism.

More counter-terrorism critical risk factors could include:

  • Family/associates linked to extremism;
  • Attend vulnerable locations permissive to extremist ideology;
  • Express support for extremist ideology of extremist groups;
  • Being in contact with extremist recruiters;
  • Attended extremist protests or gatherings;
  • Has expressed support for ISIS/IS
  • Accessing violent extremist websites, especially those with a social networking element
  • Possessing or accessing violent extremist literature;
  • Using extremist narratives and a global ideology to explain personal disadvantage;
  • Justifying the use of violence to solve societal issues;
  • Joining or seeking to join extremist organisations;
  • Significant changes to appearance and / or behaviour;
  • Expressing desire to travel to theatres of war/conflict zones:
  • Syria
  • Yemen
  • Parts of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Potentially Somalia/Libya
  • Associate to travellers to war/conflict zones, via school/friend/family networks
  • Contact with others in vulnerable countries

(See FCO travel advice website for up to date guidance)

Even very young children may be vulnerable to radicalisation by others, whether in the family or outside, and display concerning behaviour.  The Prevent duty does not require teachers or child care providers to carry out unnecessary intrusion into family life but they must take action when they observe behaviour of concern.

Schools and childcare providers should have clear procedures in place for protecting children at risk of radicalisation.  These procedures may be set out in existing safeguarding policies.  It is not necessary for schools and childcare settings to have distinct policies on implementing the Prevent duty.  General safeguarding principles apply to keeping children safe from the risk of radicalisation as set out in “Working Together to Safeguard Children” and “Keeping Children Safe in Education”.

Training for school staff

The statutory guidance refers to the importance of Prevent awareness training to equip staff to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism and to challenge extremism ideas.  The Home Office has developed a core training product for this purpose – Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent (WRAP). There are a number of professionals – particularly in safeguarding roles – working within local authorities, police, health and higher and further education who are accredited WRAP trained facilitators.

The Prevent awareness eLearning package for staff has recently been refreshed. This includes updates to reflect the recommendations from the Parsons Green review updated information following the change in threat and attacks of 2017 and new case studies.

Individual schools and childcare providers are best placed to assess their training needs in the light of their assessment of the risk. As a minimum, however, schools should ensure that the designated safeguarding lead undertakes Prevent awareness training and is able to provide advice and support to other members of staff on protecting children from the risk of radicalisation.  We recognise that it can be more difficult for many childcare providers, such as child-minders, to attend training and we are considering other ways in which they can increase their awareness and be able to demonstrate that.  This advice is one way of raising childcare providers’ awareness.

  • Staff should be alert to changes in children’s behaviour which could indicate that they may be in need of help or protection. They should refer as outlined above.
  • In order for schools to fulfil the Prevent duty, it is essential that staff are able to identify children who may be vulnerable to radicalisation.
  • School staff should be trained in Working to Raise Awareness of Prevent (WRAP 3), a Home Office workshop.
  • School Prevent Lead should understand when it is appropriate to make a referral to the CTU.
  • Channel is a programme which focusses on providing support at an early stage to people who are identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. It provides a mechanism for schools to make referrals if they are concerned that an individual might be vulnerable to radicalisation.  An individual’s engagement with the programme is entirely voluntary at all stages. The police refer individuals to the channel program.
  • Protecting children from the risk of radicalisation should be seen as part of schools’ wider safeguarding duties, and is similar in nature to protecting children from other harms (eg: drugs, gangs, neglect), whether these come from within their family or are the product of outside influences.
  • Schools need to ensure that children are safe from terrorist and extremist material when accessing the internet in schools. Schools should ensure that suitable filtering is in place.  Children should also be taught to stay safe on line, both in school and outside.  (See e-safety section of this document).  General advice and resources for schools on internet safety are available on the UK Safer Internet Centre website.  Every teacher and other school staff need to be aware of the risks posed by online activity of extremist and terrorist groups.

Prevent for Further Education and Training


The school PSHE programme (particularly for secondary school pupils and pupils in year 6 at primary school) should build pupils’ resilience to radicalisation by promoting fundamental British values and enabling them to challenge extremist views. It should not stop pupils debating controversial issues.  Schools should provide a safe space in which children, young people and staff can understand the risks associated with terrorism and develop the knowledge and skills to be able to challenge extremist arguments.  Pupils need to be taught to manage risk, make safer choices, and recognise when pressure from other threatens their personal safety and wellbeing.

Curriculum resources for schools:

London Grid for Learning (Lgfl) – Counter Extremism

Education Against Hate
This website gives parents, teachers and school leaders practical advice on protecting children from extremism and radicalisation.

Trust Me
The London Grid for Learning and ChildNet International have developed resources for primary and secondary schools addressing the development of critical thinking when looking at online materials. The lessons could be used within PSHE/Citizenship and support schools in teaching the skills necessary to recognise online extremism and propaganda.

Addressing extremism and radicalisation lesson plans
A series of four lesson plans for key stage 4 with a specific focus on addressing extremism and radicalisation of all kinds, from the PSHE Association, commissioned by Medway Public Health Directorate
Triple V (Values Versus Violence) is a Dot Com Children’s Foundation’s resource for secondary schools. The VVV resources aim to empower young people by helping them to develop positive behaviours and learn how to keep themselves and their friends safe. They provide opportunities to discuss criminal behaviour and victimisation in a safe environment and, as a result, they lead to changes in behaviour. The ‘Watch Over Me’ series is a broadcast-quality “soap opera” which engages young people and helps them create their own strategies for dealing with risk. It is a classroom tool which stimulates discussion and helps pupils feel safe enough to talk about the most challenging issues which affect personal safety.

Visiting speakers or events

It is a requirement under the Prevent duty to have robust safeguarding policies in place – including clear protocols for ensuring that any visiting speakers are suitable and appropriately supervised in line with school vetting procedures.

Ensure visiting speakers are suitable and appropriately supervised:

  • Agree purpose for inviting a visiting speaker and guidelines on content
  • Where possible submit details of talk in advance
  • Speaker should be treated like any other visitor and appropriately supervised at all times

A risk assessment and visiting speaker protocol is provided below:

Visiting speaker protocol

Risk assessment for visiting speaker

Information for Parents and the wider school community

The following web-links may also be helpful to raise awareness, provide information and support which can be shared on school websites and within the school community.

  • Educate Against Hate. This website gives parents, teachers and school leaders practical advice on protecting children from extremism and radicalisation.
  • Prevent tragedies was created because of the increasing concern about the worrying numbers of young people who are putting themselves at risk by travelling to Syria and other conflict zones and to help the numbers of families that have been torn apart by fear when their loved ones travel. The website has contributions from women from communities, charities, public sector organisations and Government departments. We aim to work together to help keep our loved ones safe, to try and address the numerous issues and sign up to the resolution to Prevent Tragedies.
  • Let’s Talk About It is an initiative designed to provide practical help and guidance to the public in order to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.
  • Open Your Eyes – This website aims to expose the truth about ISIS. The website provides visitors with the opportunity to listen to people telling their personal stories of how ISIS has affected their lives. The organisation is working with young people, activists, bloggers and filmmakers to raise their voices against ISIS.
  • Concerned about someone travelling to or from Syria, or another conflict zone? – Leaflet created by ACPO for those concerned about individuals travelling to conflict zones.
  • Support Syria safely – leaflet and poster outlining how people can provide appropriate humanitarian support.
  • Information leaflet about the risks associated with travelling to Syria.
  • Working with mothers to prevent tragedies – leaflet providing information about the role mothers can play in preventing girls and young women travelling to Syria.
  • Families Against Stress and Trauma – information about the conflict in Syria and risks to UK children and young people.

School Community Information, websites, leaflets and posters (general public information for the wider school community, eg: parents/carers, all staff, and other stakeholders.  Consider placing this information on the school website)

If you suspect it, report it – call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline – 0800 789 321

Use the Anti-Terrorist Hotline to report something suspicious or out-of-place, or if you’re unsure about someone’s behaviour or activities – your call could be vital to us, however unsure you may be. Trust your instincts.

A Textphone facility for people who are deaf or who have hearing difficulties is available on 0800 0324 539. Remember to always dial 999 in an emergency.

The Anti-Terrorist Hotline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All calls and information are treated in the strictest of confidence. All information received by the hotline is thoroughly investigated by specialist officers before any police action is considered.

Everyone has a role to play in fighting terrorism and the public are being encouraged to contact the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 if they see any activity or behaviour they think is suspicious.

The threat to the UK from terrorism remains real and serious, and public vigilance and awareness is crucial in helping to create a hostile environment for terrorists. Just one piece of information could be vital in helping disrupt terrorist planning and, in turn, save lives.

Police want people to look out for the unusual – some activity or behaviour which strikes them as not quite right and out of place in their normal day-to-day lives, for example:

  • Terrorists need storage – Lock-ups, garages and sheds can all be used by terrorists to store equipment. Are you suspicious of anyone renting commercial property?
  • Terrorists use chemicals – Do you know someone buying large or unusual quantities of chemicals for no obvious reason?
  • Terrorists need funding – Cheque and credit card fraud are ways of generating cash. Have you seen any suspicious transactions?
  • Terrorists use multiple identities – Do you know someone with documents in different names for no obvious reason?
  • Terrorists need information – Do you know someone taking an interest in security, like CCTV cameras for no obvious reason?
  • Terrorists need transport – If you work in commercial vehicle hire or sales, has a sale or rental made you suspicious?
  • If you notice suspicious bags, behaviour or vehicles which pose an imminent threat, call 999 immediately.

Updates and changes


These pages are updated regularly and should be used as the main source of information.  Printed versions should be used with care as they can become out of date.