NDNA’s Sue Asquith clears up common misconceptions about early years settings’ responsibility to help combat extremism…
A: The Prevent Duty is part of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act July 2015. A duty is placed upon educational establishments, including early years settings, to help prevent people being drawn towards extremism and, ultimately, terrorism. Extremism is described as “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values”.
A: When the Prevent Duty was first introduced, many were dubious about the role of nurseries and other settings in combating extremism. Practitioners need to be aware of how extremism may manifest itself – for example they may notice these possible signs within staff, parents or even children.
However, the government is not suggesting that future terrorists are hiding in nurseries. Guidance states: “Early years providers serve arguably the most vulnerable and impressionable members of society.” In other words, how can we support and scaffold young children to know what is and is not acceptable behaviour?
A: Reporting any safeguarding concerns about a child or family is a part of the Prevent Duty. However, the vast majority of the time it’s about promoting positive behaviour and making children feel confident they are valued and will be listened to if they have any worries. Very young children need to feel secure and know they have a voice. This includes knowing rules and boundaries in your setting. If they come across a behaviour or view that they feel uncomfortable with, they may then be able to express that to their key person.
Equally if a family has recently moved into an area, especially if they come from a different country, an early years setting is best placed to support them and help them feel less isolated.
A: The obvious area that Prevent sits in is a setting’s safeguarding and child protection policies, because it’s about keeping children safe, as well as the wider public. But it will also impact on other policies, covering staff behaviour, partnership with parents and critical incidents. All of these point towards the ultimate goal of supporting happy, healthy children.
Since the recent attacks in Manchester and London, you should also think about how you would respond in the case of an attack. If mobile phone networks were taken down, how would you contact parents? What would happen if a lockdown situation occurred? All these questions need to be answered, with all staff and parents fully briefed about the answers.
A: The fundamental British values are described as Democracy, Rule of law, Mutual tolerance, and Individual liberty. These values aren’t solely linked to Britain; they are social values that are understood and valued in all progressive nations. In essence, we need to teach children to be kind and respectful, while also having respect for themselves and their uniqueness. They need to celebrate the fact that we are all individuals, and understand that differences are positive.
If children do come across big differences that they are not comfortable with – for example, new scary views – they need to feel secure enough in your setting to discuss them.
A: Promoting British values has been confused with waving Union Jack flags. Children and staff should understand that British values – or social values – are woven into the setting’s promotion of personal, social and emotional development. It’s also about exploring diversity, looking at different celebrations from across cultures and countries. Talk about likes and dislikes – not everybody likes the same things. Underline the importance of understanding differences and similarities.
A: Much of this work will already be part and parcel of daily life within your setting, but it’s important that practitioners are aware of the links to the fundamental British values, particularly if asked by any inspection body. For example, in England it will be planned for under Personal, Social and Emotional Development and Understanding the World within the EYFS. In Wales it will be Personal and Social Development, Well-being and Cultural Diversity, and Knowledge and Understanding of the World within the Foundation Phase. In Scotland, Emotional, Personal and Social Development, and Knowledge and Understanding of the World underpins the Curriculum for Excellence.
NDNA’s Prevent Duty and Fundamental British Values is a concise online course covering all main aspects of this key topic. It’s split into four modules which look at the relevant legislation, links to policies and procedures, what the values actually mean and how they can be made relevant to young children. The course, which is recommended for all staff, is available in the development zone – visit ndna.org.uk/training. There are also useful fact sheets, Prevent Duty and British values in your early years setting, available in the shop – ndna.org.uk/shop