Terrorist Toddlers?


Nursery Staff to Report Children at Risk of Becoming Terrorists

In keeping with their new anti-terrorism strategy the Home Office have instructed nursery staff to report toddlers harbouring terrorist views. However many have criticised the plans as unnecessarily extreme and turning nursery staff who must be looking after children, into spies.

The consultation document on the strategy titled the Prevent Strategy, reads, “Senior management and governors are expected to assess the risk of pupils being drawn into terrorism, including support for the extremist ideas that are part of terrorist ideology.”

Staff are expected to, “identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism” and “challenge extremist ideas which can be used to legitimise terrorism”.

The department have pointed to situations such as Muslim children being taught that non Muslims are wicked or using anti-Semetic comments, which are cause for reporting.

However the practicalities of the measures are being criticised, Conservative MP and former shadow home secretary David Davis said, “It is hard to see how this can be implemented. It is unworkable. I have to say I cannot understand what they [nursery staff] are expected to do.

“Are they supposed to report some toddler who comes in praising a preacher deemed to be extreme? I don’t think so.

“It is heavy-handed.”

Isabella Sankey, the policy director at human rights body Liberty argues of the backfires of such plans, claiming teachers are turned into “involuntary spies” and feelings of mistrust and alienation will be felt across children at a young age.

She adds, “The Government should focus on projects to support vulnerable young people – instead they’re playing straight into terrorists’ hands by rushing through a Bill that undermines our democratic principles and turns us into a nation of suspects.”

General Secretary of Headteachers’ union NAHT, Russell Hobby, argues that nurseries hold a strong bond with parents as they are their first contact with the education system. Therefore questioning the ideology of families can create problems and focus should instead be laid on education and socialising children which he argues are “real ‘protections’”.

A government spokesperson stated, “Schools, including nurseries, have a duty of care to their pupils and staff. The new duty in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism will be seen in a similar way to their existing safeguarding responsibilities.

“We are not expecting teachers and nursery workers to carry out unnecessary intrusion into family life but we do expect them to take action when they observe behaviour of concern. It is important that children are taught fundamental British values in an age-appropriate way.”


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