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Education: Extremist Groups

Volume 716: debated on Tuesday 5 January 2010

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many teachers have been (a) investigated, (b) disciplined, and (c) removed from post, because of links to (1) extremist, and (2) proscribed, groups in each year since 1997. [HL638]

Membership of a proscribed organisation is a criminal offence. The department does not hold information relating to criminal investigations which are a matter for the police.

Membership of an organisation which is not proscribed would not, in and of itself, be grounds for disciplinary action against a teacher or for barring an individual from teaching or working with children.

The General Teaching Council for England can take disciplinary measures against a registered teacher found to be in breach of the GTCE Statement of Principles and Code of Conduct and Practice. The sanctions available to the GTC include removing unsuitable teachers from the register, with the effect that the person cannot teach in a maintained school.

In the past year there has been one referral of a teacher to the GTC where the individual was accused of accessing material of a racist nature on a school laptop. The GTC reached a decision on three further cases in 2008 where the referrals were associated with racism.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps are taken to prevent (a) extremists, and (b) members of proscribed groups, from (1) becoming teachers, and (2) working with young people. [HL639]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what vetting procedures are in place to prevent (a) extremists, and (b) members of proscribed groups, from (1) becoming teachers and (2) working with young people. [HL640]

For maintained schools, the responsibility for considering the professional suitability of registered teachers, whether potential new recruits or existing members of the teaching profession, lies with the individual school governing bodies and with local authorities. The department has provided detailed guidance on the necessary checks which should be carried out before engaging a teacher. These checks involve checking the individual's identity, their academic qualifications and previous employment history, taking up professional and character references, and applying to the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) for mandatory checks on the individual's criminal background and whether they are included on the lists that are maintained by the Independent Safeguarding Authority.

For independent schools, the proprietor is responsible for carrying out the checks on their staff. Proprietors themselves must have a criminal background check as part of assessing their suitability and the Secretary of State has powers under the Education Act 2002 to prohibit unsuitable individuals from taking part in the management of an independent school.

Similar requirements for criminal background checks currently apply in children's social care and in registered childcare settings. In voluntary settings where individuals work with children and young people but which are not regulated by the Government, such as the churches or the Scouts for example, organisers are eligible to conduct CRB checks and we advise them to do so.

Individuals wishing to become teachers or to work with children in regulated activity must be registered with the Vetting and Barring Scheme when the registration requirements under the new scheme are phased in from next year. Where relevant safeguarding information is found by the CRB or Access Northern Ireland during the vetting process, this information will be passed to the Independent Safeguarding Authority. The ISA will consider this and other information that it may hold or gather on a person to determine if the person poses a future risk of harm to children. An ISA children's list bar would prevent an individual from working with children in any instance of regulated activity with children.

The Secretary of State has appointed Maurice Smith, former HM Chief Inspector of Schools, to consider the issue of racism in schools. The review is looking at the measures currently in place to prevent political impartiality, racially motivated discrimination and the promotion of partisan activities in our schools, and whether these need strengthening. Although Mr Smith has been asked to focus on the maintained sector the review is also taking evidence from the independent sector. He is due to report at the end of January 2010 and we will consider the findings carefully before deciding whether any further measures are required to strengthen those already in place.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many (a) students, and (b) teaching staff, at (1) universities, (2) colleges, and (3) sixth form colleges, have been referred to the Channel Project since its inception. [HL641]

Nationally, the Channel Project has received 228 referrals between April 2007 and December 2008. Channel works with a wide range of partners to support individuals identified as vulnerable to violent extremism. Any further level of detail is an operational matter at a local level. We would not release such information in order to protect partners locally.

The known age range of those referred to Channel as potentially vulnerable to violent extremism and in need of multi-agency support was 7-50 years;

the majority of referrals were aged between 15-24 years;

of those referred to Channel as potentially vulnerable to violent extremism and in need of multi-agency support, 93 per cent were male.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many students have been (a) charged with, and (b) convicted of, offences under terrorism legislation in each year since 1997. [HL687]

The Home Office does not hold statistics which are recorded in this way. However, the Home Office does collate statistics on the number of terrorism arrests and outcomes and these are included in a bulletin published for the first time on 13 May 2009 (Statistics on Terrorism Arrests and Outcomes Great Britain 11 September 2001 to 31 March 2008). The first edition of the bulletin is available at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs09/hosb0409.pdf.

The second issue of the bulletin was published on 26 November 2009 and is available via the link below at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs09/hosb809.pdf.