Independent training providers criticised in Ofsted report on implementation of anti-terror duty

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.

Paul Joyce
Paul Joyce

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.

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  1. It is very disappointing how long this survey has taken to be published considering just how long ago it was first mentioned by Paul Joyce to FE Week as a priority of Ofsted in 2015/16. Could it have been published at a worst time when it comes to being missed by those who might want to read it, with students having finished in most colleges over a week ago and many staff starting holidays? I have seen some fantastic good practice during the year, including at some of the colleges that have been listed in the report, which has not been identified or mentioned, including how external speakers are vetted and what they say is monitored. This good practice is largely down to individual members of staff who have taken a real interest and developed materials and approaches to raising the awareness of their learners around the dangers of radicalisation. A huge number of students at one college (thousands) attended a theatre production around prevent while others have used innovative presentations, poster and speaker campaigns to publicise both the dangers and the help that can be obtained from college staff to support students and sometimes their family members. What a great shame that someone is not identifying the good practice that does exist and sharing it better with the sector?

    What is very clear is that from September 2016 more of an emphasis is going to be placed by Ofsted on the implementation of the Prevent Duty so that no excuses will be accepted where the training of students, staff and governors is concerned. Hopefully HMI and part-time Ofsted inspectors will be given sufficient training to ensure that this is done by people with the right knowledge and skills themselves?