Dozens of North East independent training providers (ITPs) have a lot of hard work ahead of them if they are to comply with Prevent duty guidance, says Gateshead-based quality assurance specialist MESMA, which has outlined a seven-point help plan.

MESMA’s comments follow the Prevent duty guidance for FE colleges and ITPs in England and come in the light of the recent Ofsted report that highlighted progress to date.

The ITPs sector came under fire in Ofsted’s assessment of how the anti-terrorism Prevent duty – which represents new obligations under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act – is being implemented across FE.

It signalled a clear warning to the sector, finding “a worrying number of providers, particularly ITPs…are struggling to implement the duty”.

MESMA says that while some positives were identified, there’s unmistakable evidence that possibly hundreds of ITPs are struggling, or failing, to implement the requirements – and that valuable lessons need to be learnt in the process.

Its clear, says MESMA, that if Prevent duty is to be engaged in a meaningful way, then the independent training sector should be encouraged to adopt robust action plans and avoid a tick box approach to implementation.

Also, there must be policies and processes in place for engaging external partners and, more importantly, management must have requisite quality assurance measures in place to check that these are being fully implemented.

MESMA also advises ITPs to:

 Engage with external partners in a multi-agency approach – for example, the local authority and police wherever possible.

 Ensure staff training goes beyond minimum requirements of, for example, introductory online training and that local partners are engaged to ensure this training has depth and is relevant to local customers.

 Avoid an over-dependency on BIS Prevent coordinators or local authorities – take responsibility for ensuring polices and processes are in place.

 Ensure risk assessments have appropriate level of detail and associated action plans are practical and specific to what is needed.

 Implement policies and procedures for IT that should make specific reference to Prevent and that action is taken to restrict access to harmful websites.

Louise Doyle, director at MESMA, said that while it takes time to for measures such as Prevent duty to bed-in, there’s no escaping the fact that key aspects require urgent actioning by ITPs.

She said: “We would add to this the need to review the management of sub-contractors to ensure due diligence and on-going monitoring incorporates Prevent duty implementation.

“Self-evaluation and action plan provided by technologies like MESMA will support Prevent duty and help smooth the transition to company-wide approaches and implementation.”

* http://mesma.co.uk/prevent-duty- seven-points- independent-training- providers-consider/