Independent training providers (ITPs) have come in for the worst criticism in Ofsted’s thematic review report into how the anti-terrorism Prevent duty is being implemented across FE.
The document, called ‘How well are FE and skills providers implementing the ‘Prevent’ duty?’, was unveiled by the inspectorate this morning.
It was based on survey visits to 37 FE providers, along with with findings from 46 full inspections or monitoring visits between November last year and this May.
It recognised that general FE and sixth form colleges had been “most successful”, through “working closely with partners to ensure that good progress had been made on all aspects of the Prevent duty”.
However an Ofsted spokesperson warned it had found “a worrying number of providers, particularly ITPs, small providers and those working in isolation, are struggling to implement the duty”.
The report said: “Two of the eight ITPs visited had not implemented any aspect of the ‘Prevent’ duty.
“The ITPs tended to operate in isolation and few had adequate systems in place to ensure the safety of learners.”
FE institutions were first made subject to the Prevent duty — which requires them to put policies in place to prevent potential radicalisation of learners and exposure to extremism — in September last year.
And Paul Joyce, Ofsted deputy director for FE and skills and independent schools, revealed the inspectorate would be launching the thematic review a month later, as reported in FE Week.
The resulting report has concluded that Ofsted should “raise further its expectations of providers to implement all aspects of the Prevent duty, and evaluate the impact this has on keeping learners safe” from the start of next academic year.
Recommendations for providers included that they should ensure appropriate procedures are in place, and implemented effectively, to protect learners from “risks posed by external speakers and events”.
It also called for better information sharing with other partner organisations such as local authorities, improved staff training, and for more effort to be put into ensuring learners understand British values radicalisation threats.
It also called for Prevent to be explicitly referred to in IT policies, and careful monitoring of learners’ “use of IT facilities to identify inappropriate usage”.
Oftsed added there needed to be more consistency “of advice and guidance provided by Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Prevent co-ordinators, police Prevent teams and local authorities”.
The report noted that six of the providers visited had no arrangements in place to check the suitability of external speakers.
“Even in some of the 31 providers that had appropriate policies and procedures to check external speakers and events, these did not always work well in practice,” it added.
“Too often, learners were potentially at risk because leaders had not ensured that suitable checks had been completed.”
Ofsted stressed that “the majority” of providers had implemented the Prevent duty guidance well.
But the report added: “Some viewed the duty as a list of conditions just to comply with and have adopted a ‘tick-box’ approach.
“This goes against the spirit of the government’s guidance, which seeks to promote meaningful ways to reduce the specific risks of radicalisation.”
Risk assessments lacked sufficient detail in around a third of the providers visited.
And staff training was found to be “ineffective” in a third of the providers visited.
This comes after an Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) survey, reported on by FE Week in September, indicated that 45 per cent of FE staff had not trained to implement Prevent before it was applied to FE later that month.