Category: Education

Ofsted reduces focus on safeguarding

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October 20, 2011 1:51 pm

The release of the new draft inspection framework by Ofsted has implications for schools’ safeguarding procedures.

Safeguarding was a separate judgement in the last framework and ‘the effectiveness of safeguarding procedures’ came under leadership and management. It was also given the status of being a ‘limiting judgement’, so if a school was inadequate against this, then overall effectiveness was likely to be inadequate too.

however in the new framework, limiting judgements no longer exist and safeguarding no longer has its own section.    Instead under the leadership and management judgement in the new Ofsted framework, school leaders are required to demonstrate that they ensure that all pupils are safe. Inspectors will be looking for evidence that school leaders and managers at all levels manage safeguarding arrangements to ensure that there is safe recruitment, and that there are effective procedures in place to identify children in need or at risk of significant harm.  To qualify as ‘outstanding’ in this aspect of leadership and management, the school’s arrangements for safeguarding pupils must ‘meet statutory requirements and give no cause for concern’. The same phrase is used for ‘good’ and ‘satisfactory’ schools. Schools will register as ‘inadequate’ if safeguarding arrangements do not meet statutory requirements and give serious cause for concern.

It is therefore clear that the emphasis on safeguarding has been reduced in the new evaluation schedule.

Also , under the government’s School health and safety guidance (issued in August 2011)   risk assessments do not now have to be completed for every activity. In fact, Health & Safety: Department for Education Advice on Legal Duties and Powers for Local Authorities, Head Teachers, Staff and Governing Bodies emphasises that risk assessments need not be routinely carried out or repeated for similar activities. However, an assessment should be completed for any new activity that includes an element of risk.

The changes will be overseen by the  newly-appointed chief inspector of schools , Sir Michael Wilshaw who hopes to improve standards by cracking down on “ineffective” teachers.   He said “very robust” performance management systems were needed.  From January, he will head Ofsted and its new streamlined inspection framework, which will emphasise four key areas – pupil achievement, teaching standards, behaviour and school leadership.  He has been described as traditional in his approach to improving standards at the London school of which he was head.   BBC News: Academy head named Ofsted chief

NSPCC helpline for paedophiles

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October 1, 2011 11:25 pm

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is launching a phone helpline for paedophiles tomorrow.  The emergency number – aimed at talking convicted paedophiles out of striking again – will be manned around the clock by trained counsellors.  It will be funded by donations to the 127-year-old charity, so that it will be a toll-free service.

Child-sex offenders released from jail or given community service will be able to phone up if they fear a relapse or need other guidance. But they must first have agreed to sign up to the scheme, which will see them given a unique PIN number to identify them.  The phone counsellors will also reserve the right to call police. Continue reading 'NSPCC helpline for paedophiles'»

Welsh Government focus on School safeguarding

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August 13, 2011 9:47 am
The Welsh Government is calling for urgent action to improve education services in Pembrokeshire following two highly critical reports.  One  identified serious failings in procedures to protect children from abuse, the other criticised the quality of education services.  Education Minister Leighton Andrews told Pembrokeshire council it has two months to come up with an action plan. He has launched a crusade against “complacency in the classroom”.

The Welsh Government is sending in a team to monitor Pembrokeshire Council after the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) and school inspections body Estyn identified 25 cases of alleged child abuse in the education services.  The investigation was triggered by the case of primary school head teacher David Thorley, who was jailed in 2009 for sex assaults on children in his care.  (Details of that case from BBC: Sex assault head teacher jailed).  The report criticised the council for its “wholly unacceptable” handling of the child abuse allegations. Continue reading 'Welsh Government focus on School safeguarding'»

BBC Panorama – insight into Child Sex Abuse

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June 23, 2011 8:07 am

BBC Panorama – Breaking the Silence  tells the story of how over a hundred former pupils from two Catholic prep schools in England and Tanzania were reunited via the internet. Chatting in cyberspace, they discovered they had all suffered terrible abuse at school: mental, physical and, in some cases, sexual. As young children they were frightened into silence by their abusers.

Now, as men in their fifties and sixties, and strengthened by the group, they want the truth to come out. Twenty two men have started legal proceedings against the Rosminian Order for compensation. They want justice, but their abusers are now elderly and the church has sought to mediate a solution.

An insight into the way in which children are manipulated by sex offenders – and also the power of the internet to draw out truth.

GTCE handover responsibility for teacher misconduct and barring in April 2012

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April 13, 2011 6:42 pm

The General Teaching Council for England (GTCE) will be handing over its regulatory functions to the Department for Education in April 2012, from which time Mr Gove will become accountable for cases of teacher misconduct and maintaining the list of those barred. The changes were outlined in the recent Education Bill, which is currently being scrutinised by Parliamentary committee. Continue reading 'GTCE handover responsibility for teacher misconduct and barring in April 2012'»

Ofsted analysis of serious case reviews

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April 13, 2011 6:59 am
 Ofsted has analysed 67 serious case reviews,  and found that  vulnerable children’s views are ‘overlooked’, and sometimes they were not even seen by the professionals involved.  Instead, a focus on the parent’s need for support often meant the child’s right to protection was lost.  Professionals were also found to have failed to listen to adults who tried to raise concerns on behalf of a child. In other cases, where the child was seen, they were not asked about their views and feelings.  Social workers and other professionals in England must do more to listen to the views of vulnerable children, Ofsted inspectors say. Continue reading 'Ofsted analysis of serious case reviews'»

Unlawful arrest compensation for teacher

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April 1, 2011 3:06 pm

A Birmingham teacher who was unlawfully arrested after being accused of assaulting a pupil has been awarded £1,000 compensation at the High Court. Mark Richardson, 39,  was arrested even though he volunteered to be interviewed by police. No prosecution was brought and he sued West Midlands Police, fearing the stain the arrest would leave on his record.    As well as claiming he was unlawfully arrested, Mr Richardson also wanted West Midlands Police to destroy DNA samples, fingerprints and photographs taken at the time and for his arrest entry on the Police National Computer (PNC) to be deleted or amended.

 However while Mrs Justice Slade ruled that Mr Richardson’s arrest was unlawful, she  declined these other requests, noting that the force said it would “take it properly into account when making any decision as to a request by the claimant for destruction or removal” of fingerprints and DNA. The force said it was investigating the handling of the 2009 case.

 Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said she would be writing to the secretary of state for education and the home secretary to seek changes to national procedures.

“This is a landmark decision for teachers and others who are vulnerable to allegations made by children and young people,” he said. “New guidance for police is needed urgently to prevent these needless arrests that wreck innocent people’s careers. ”Teachers are vulnerable to allegations made by pupils. ”Such allegations frequently involve police investigation. “The overwhelming majority prove to be false but teachers are often deeply traumatised and their career is blighted.”

BBC News

Ofsted Consultation on School Inspections

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March 22, 2011 3:21 pm

Ofsted has launched a consultation on the inspection of maintained schools and academies in England, following proposals announced in the 2011 Education Bill.  This Bill aims to re-focus school inspection on  the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom, backed by leadership and good discipline in schools. The consultation seeks views on how Ofsted will implement these changes, including when Ofsted should inspect.

Outstanding schools will no longer be subject to routine inspections unless concerns about their performance are identified, and the consultation asks for views on the factors inspectors should consider when assessing whether an inspection is needed. In addition, it asks for views on plans to carry out more frequent inspections of weaker schools and on the circumstances in which schools may request an inspection.   Ofsted will also be testing the new inspection arrangements in pilot inspections, with a view to introducing the new system in January 2012, subject to the successful passage of the Education Bill. Continue reading 'Ofsted Consultation on School Inspections'»

Budget cuts hitting schools

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March 14, 2011 8:13 am

The Association of School and College Leaders has warned that Head teachers are planning to make large-scale redundancies,  It claims the new English Baccalaureate means many schools are scaling down on staff who teach vocational courses. Continue reading 'Budget cuts hitting schools'»

Your chance to be heard

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February 25, 2011 1:11 pm

The Protection of Freedoms Bill is the first time that a new element called a “Public Reading Stage” will be introduced.  It means that members of the public can comment directly on clauses of the Bill. These comments should contribute to the points made by MPs across all parties during the debates and committee stages – so it is an important opportunity.  

The website can be found here – http://publicreadingstage.cabinetoffice.gov.uk  – do add your perspectives with practical examples from your sector as this a very complex area which has been subject to  sweeping misrepresentation in the media.  Since only very low level stakeholder engagement is likely this is the best opportunity to amend some aspects of the legislation such as the availability of disclosures, scope of regulated activity and the level of guidance available. 

Also register with us so that you receive our briefing papers on each of these topics and more.

Capita win Education contract

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February 16, 2011 9:45 am

The Capita Group has been appointed as preferred supplier by the Department for Education to run the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS).

TPS online provides the current quick check facility for barred status. Continue reading 'Capita win Education contract'»

William Mayne, David Trainer

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February 12, 2011 9:38 am

On the day that the changes to the Vetting and Disclosure system were announced, two relevant cases were highlighted. William Mayne, the author who abused his relationships with children after meeting them in schools, and Brixton photographer David Trainer. Continue reading 'William Mayne, David Trainer'»

Reduced CRB regime announced

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February 11, 2011 8:50 am
Details of the new Criminal Records regime will be announced today as part of the all encompassing Protection of Freedoms Bill.  Points that are likely to emerge  when it is published are:
  •  The need for checks to be drastically reduced to ‘common sense’ levels -now it will only apply to those who have the most close and regular contact with children or vulnerable adults, such as professional childcare workers or teachers.  The total number who will need to undergo background checks will halve to around 4.5million, although who this includes does not appear to have been defined judging from the  interview given by Nick Clegg his morning on BBC.  
  • Continual updating and portability will be enabled so that teachers and care home workers who do require checks will have their records constantly updated.  This is seen as a key benefit and was already planned in by CRB.
  • The content of CRBs will be reviewed  – for instance the changes will also drastically cut the use of ‘soft intelligence’ when examining a person’s history. Unproven allegations will only be placed on a person’s record if a Chief Constable believes they are true.
  • Checks that are unnecessary and which breach an employee’s privacy could be referred to the data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner, and any employer found knowingly to have requested an unlawful check could face fines running to thousands of pounds.  This will prevent the over zealous use of CRBs such as the school in Warrington that would not be allowed into the premises to see their children.
  • the Independent Safeguarding Authority will be merged with the Criminal Records Bureau. Continue reading 'Reduced CRB regime announced'»

Baroness Morgan to head Ofsted

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February 8, 2011 1:51 pm

Baroness Sally Morgan has been appointed as the new chair of Ofsted,  succeeding Zenna Atkins, who left the watchdog at the end of August last year.  Sally Morgan also sits on the advisory committee of the Institute of Education, and is chair of the Morgan Inquiry, which aims to encourage 18- to 24-year-olds to volunteer. A former teacher,  she has also been an adviser to the global board of children’s charity Ark since 2005. Continue reading 'Baroness Morgan to head Ofsted'»

Reaction to VBS & CRB changes

February 6, 2011 3:24 pm

On BBC News, Mark Williams-Thomas a ex-policeman and specialist in child safeguarding gave the following interview:



Click to play

See also our page tracking  stakeholder comments

CRB & ISA to merge into new body

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February 5, 2011 9:32 am

An article in the Telegraph pre-empts the announcement about the results of the criminal records regime review by Sunita Mason and the parallel one into the Vetting & Barring Scheme. Headline: “An anti-paedophile vetting scheme that would have involved nine million adults will be ripped up next week in a major reworking of how background checks are conducted.” Continue reading 'CRB & ISA to merge into new body'»

Munro report criticises Ofsted approach

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February 1, 2011 12:27 pm

The interim report on child protection by Eileen Munro has been published today. It signals a new approach which will focus on helping children rather than on regulations, inspections and procedures.  The areas for reform in the interim report include:

Education Bill impacts barring decisions

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January 27, 2011 7:14 pm

Several elements of  the new Education Bill will impact safeguarding in schools.  Continue reading 'Education Bill impacts barring decisions'»

Public Consultations close

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July 30, 2010 1:23 pm

Three public consultations on aspects of the CRB and the VBS were run by the Department for Education and ended in July.

The Author’s Story – and Bichard’s reply

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August 10, 2009 8:40 am

Media interest was sparked in July 2009 when Phillip Pullman, the best selling author, claimed he would be banned from reading his books in schools because he refused to be vetted for the VBS.  Continue reading 'The Author’s Story – and Bichard’s reply'»