Almost half of FE staff not given Prevent training, survey reveals

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Almost half of all FE staff in England had still not received counter-extremism training just weeks before major legislation made it a requirement, a new survey has revealed.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) found that, less than a month before the Prevent duty came into force on 1 July, 45 per cent of lecturers surveyed had not been given any training on it. Nearly a third of the ATL members surveyed (29 per cent) said they were not aware that FE colleges would have a duty to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.

Under section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, it is a requirement for FE staff  to “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

Of those who had received counter-extremism training, 15.5 per cent said it had been poor or very poor, and 30 per cent said it was only OK. Thirty five per cent had received less than an hour of training, with one member saying they had recieved no more than 15 minutes. In total, 157 college employees took part in the survey.

ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said: “It is deeply worrying to hear that further education staff have not received the training they need to meet their legal obligation to report students who are at risk of being radicalised. It puts FE staff in an impossible position, facing the risk of prosecution if they fail to comply with a duty they have not had fully explained.”

The training given to the staff who took part in the survey included instructional videos and webinars, with some advised to visit students’ social media profiles and check for extremist activity.

One ATL member said: “In the video the teacher had gone on a student’s Facebook page.” Another added: “I believe the training has the potential to do more harm than good, by exacerbating sensitive situations.”

Ms Bousted added: “We have major concerns about the legislation [which] could damage the relationship between FE staff and their students. We strongly object to education staff being expected to act as police informers.”

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