HEFCE publishes an updated PREVENT monitoring framework

Less than 12 months following the publication by HEFCE of a framework for monitoring compliance with the Prevent duty, HEFCE has issued an updated framework which seeks to improve the original framework by taking into account the experiences of interested parties to date. A blog post we published outlining the main requirements of the original framework can be found by following this link. The new framework is intended to reflect the proposed regulatory approach of the Office for Students, which is expected to take over responsibility for monitoring the Prevent duty from HEFCE once the Higher Education and Research Bill becomes law.

The updated framework supersedes the original one, and the first annual reports are expected to be submitted by 1 December 2016.

The update is intended to improve the second phase of the monitoring cycle. Following the completion of the first phase of assessment, set to be concluded by the end of 2016 and aimed at ensuring that all relevant higher education bodies (RHEB) have adequate policies and procedures, the second phase will consist of monitoring the active and effective implementation of those policies and procedures.

Continued due regard to the Prevent duty will need to be evidenced in the annual reports which all RHEBs must submit to HEFCE. The framework describes what such reports should contain. This includes evidence of ongoing engagement and active implementation, such as details of Prevent-related training provided to staff, and a declaration from the governing body confirming that the provider has had due regard to the Prevent duty, has provided HEFCE with all the required information, and has reported all serious issues in a timely manner.  If HEFCE has concerns which cannot be resolved through correspondence, an intensive scrutiny meeting will be held.

‘Prevent reviews’ are to replace the more common and more burdensome reviews described in the original framework, such that face-to-face reviews will be more targeted and risk-based. Reviews will take place in particular circumstances which include if the evidence provided is considered to be weak, or where there are concerns that Prevent-related matters have not been adequately tackled.

In addition to annual reporting, RHEBs are expected to report any serious Prevent-related incidents. It is the responsibility of the institution to determine what constitutes a serious incident. If a potential serious incident arises, an institution should communicate this to their HEFCE Prevent Adviser and HEFCE will then provide guidance on whether a formal report is required. Once a formal report is made, HEFCE will assess whether the institution has followed its policies and procedures and whether it has learnt any lessons from the incident.  A Prevent review may be triggered.

Institutions must also report material changes related to Prevent, mainly changes to policies and procedures, changes of responsibility for Prevent and changes of control.

In order to be considered as demonstrating due regard to the Prevent duty, RHEBs must show that their policies and procedures meet the requirements of statutory guidance and provide sufficient evidence that such policies and procedures are being implemented. If it is considered that an institution does not demonstrate due regard and fails to take adequate steps to address its shortcomings, the consequences could include a report to the Department for Education and publication of the institution’s details.

Finally, as part of its commitment to improve the monitoring framework, HEFCE has undertaken to continuously promote good practice and to provide support to institutions. This work, set to take place alongside the formal monitoring process, will include informal engagement visits, support for staff training and carrying out thematic reviews.

Compliance with the monitoring framework requires the effective management of institutions and the need for governors, as those responsible for compliance, to ensure that they are well-informed on their duties under the framework and keep track of what is being done in the institution with regard to the Prevent duty.

The full text of the monitoring framework can be viewed here.

Lauro Fava
T: 0121 631 5245
E: lauro.fava@shma.co.uk
W: www.shma.co.uk
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