Message for Schools (Feb 15)

Wednesday 11th February

Message for Schools (Feb 15)

Some brief, but pertinent, messages on safeguarding children and young people and the role of the education sector were recently shared by Ofsted’s Senior HMI – John Kennedy.  John leads inspections of secondary and primary schools, academies and pupil referral units and has a wealth of experience in the management of school improvement, behaviour, attendance and safeguarding.

John’s messages were simple and formed the basis of the key areas that Ofsted would focus upon as part of any inspection process.  These areas align with the City & Hackney Safeguarding Children Board’s priorities and provide a helpful reminder of the factors that you will need to consider and address.

5 Key Issues:

  1. Children going missing from education:  do you know which of your pupils are absent for a long time? / are you tracking attendance patterns? / what actions have you taken in respect of individual children? / what’s the process for taking children off-roll? / how many of your children / young people are in care / on a child protection plan / children in need – are these children / young people missing? and is there evidence of contact with Children’s Social Care
  2. Child Sexual Exploitation:  are you clear about and alert to the possible signs of CSE and the links to children missing education? Are you clear about what to do and where to refer if concerned about CSE
  3. Forced Marriage / Female genital Mutilation (FGM) – Are you alert to the signs of this abuse.  Are you focussed on patterns relating to children being taken out of school / planned or unplanned trips abroad 
  4. Extremism – this is a focus of inspection.  Link between British values and safeguarding – not just about violence.  Are you alert to how this could manifest amongst children and young people?
  5. The risk from electronic communication – recognised by Ofsted as perhaps the “riskiest” element to children and young people today.  Do your PHSE sessions and curriculum deal with these issues effectively? Do your children / young people have a sharp understanding of these risks and how they can keep themselves safe?

5 Key Essentials

Quality of training of governors and staff at all levels; are your governors clear about their statutory responsibilities? are they all trained on safeguarding children / young people? Can you show that all staff are trained properly?

“Joining the dots”:  Are lines of communication clear? Do people know who to report to?  Do children / young people know how to complain and are their complaints taken seriously?  Do staff know where to go when they have concerns about the welfare / safety of children / young people? Do they know where to go when there are concerns about staff that may involve a safeguarding issue?  Ensure there is clarity about lines of communication and when designated leads and/or headteachers are engaged.

Timeliness and appropriateness of any action taken in relation to potential or actual incidences of abuse; – are staff clear about criteria / procedures? are records written up in an appropriate and timely way? Can you show evidence that you respond in a timely and appropriate way when concerned about a child?  Clear about routes to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO)

Rigour of recruitment practice:  (also links with visitor suitability – look carefully at who you are inviting in!)

Tenacity in following through concerns – are you tenacious in chasing referrals and establishing progress?  Are you tenacious in exploring what you can do to help safeguard a child and / or provide early help to prevent problems getting worse? Do you refer to the CHSCP escalation policy that can be found here