British Educators Preventing Terrorism Through ‘Safeguarding’ the ‘Vulnerable’

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Educators are central to the implementation of Britain’s Prevent Strategy, through the ‘Prevent duty’. This mandatory reporting responsibility, shared with professional practitioners in health and welfare, requires educators to spot and refer individual students potentially ‘vulnerable to’ or ‘at risk’ of radicalisation. The Prevent duty explicitly instructs educators and educational institutions to understand this responsibility as ‘safeguarding’ and to operationalise it through existing safeguarding paradigms and mechanisms, an approach mirrored by other Western countries. This framing of terrorism prevention as ‘safeguarding’ within education, health and welfare has come under strong criticism from scholars who see it both as a perversion and as a securitisation of ‘traditional’ safeguarding. There has been too little consideration of what ‘safeguarding’ represents within modern education and how coherently, therefore, terrorism prevention approaches such as the Prevent duty fit. The article contributes to addressing this deficit, arguing that safeguarding within modern education is a form of anticipatory security, an approach of ‘new public management’, which sees anticipating and preventing risk to students as a core responsibility for all professionals. In this way, the article argues that counter-terrorism prevention responsibilities for educators, such as Britain’s Prevent duty, are entirely consistent with broader, pre-existing safeguarding paradigms within education.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Studies
Early online date27 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Mar 2024

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