Secondary School Teachers’ and Prevent Practitioners’ Conceptualisations of Radicalisation: The Impact on Teachers’ Professionalism

Daniela Scerri

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The concept of radicalisation post 9/11 has been at the centre of debates for many years. More so, since education was given a role to play in countering it. National counterterrorism policies within educational institutions have been criticised for securitising education and potentially pushing radical students’ views underground. The introduction of the Prevent duty, a statutory obligation posed on schools in England and Wales in 2015, shouldered schools and their staff with the responsibility of preventing individuals from being drawn to terrorism. Using qualitative thematic analysis, this study looks at conceptualisations of radicalisation from an educational perspective through the narratives of thirteen secondary school teachers in comprehensive schools in England and fourteen Prevent practitioners. Teachers’ conceptualisations of radicalisation were also assessed against measures they adopt in the classroom. Prevent practitioners’ views were used to attest whether what they desire of the Prevent duty matched what teachers are doing on the ground in schools. The study also investigated the Prevent duty enactment by secondary school teachers, and the way the guidance impacted on teachers’ professionalism. Furthermore, it sheds light on secondary school teachers’ classroom-level interventions. Attention was also given to teachers’ attempts to address radicalisation and/or extremist activity implicitly or explicitly in the classroom through the teaching of their subject. Prevent practitioners’ views provided further insight on the interplay of contextual factors within schools. A thematic analysis was used to present and organise teachers’ and Prevent practitioners’ views. Through this analysis, twenty-one themes have been identified and are presented across four main chapters. Research data findings show that teacher interviewees expect an educational response to prevent radicalisation rather than a security response through safeguarding. This has implications for teacher training as teachers envisage a curriculum response which targets not just radicalisation but social issues at large. Furthermore, results show that teachers’ perceptions of the Prevent duty as a non-educational response to prevent radicalisation pushes teachers to use agency to challenge the Prevent duty or to implement the Prevent duty through their own interpretative framework. Lack of adequate teacher training may result in biased judgements which, in turn, may lead to more harm than good.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Morrison, John, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Mar 2022
Publication statusUnpublished - 23 Feb 2022


  • preventing violent extremism
  • radicalisation
  • multiculturalism
  • CVE
  • PVE
  • Prevent Duty
  • Prevent Strategy
  • education
  • teachers
  • Prevent practitioners

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