MICHAEL Gove has written to all schools and colleges in England urging them to be alert for signs of radicalisation and exploitation of students.
In a letter to headteachers, the Education Secretary warned that schools and colleges needed to be aware of any type of abuse of children and should not think that it could not happen to them.
He said the government had published new advice on different types of abuse and neglect, including child sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, radicalisation, and cyberbullying. Mr Gove wrote: “The guidance reiterates that staff members working with children should always think ‘it could happen here’ where safeguarding is concerned.”
The updated advice said “School and college staff are particularly important as they are in a position to identify concerns early and provide help for children, to prevent concerns from escalating,” it said.
The new advice contained links to existing guidance from different organisations on a range of issues, including one from “Channel”, which is part of a government strategy to protect people at risk of being radicalised.
This document said: “Channel is about protecting people from radicalisation into all forms of terrorism, but the most significant threat to this country is from al-Qa’ida affiliated, influenced and associated groups.”
It suggested a number of indicators that an individual was involved with an extremist group or cause, such as changing how they dressed or their appearance, losing interest in friends or activities not associated with a particular ideology and their behaviour. It also said that those at risk of being radicalised might possess “material or symbols associated with an extremist cause”.