Monday, 30 August 2010

The Child Protection Policy - 18

And it gets worse...
23. Referral guidelines: A referral to the SSD or police will not normally be made where
  • a referral would be contrary to the wishes of a pupil complainant who is of sufficient maturity and understanding and properly informed, and contrary also to the wishes of the complainant's parents; and
  • the case is one that can be satisfactorily dealt with under the School's internal procedures, the parents being kept fully informed, as appropriate.
However, if during the course of the internal procedures and the procedures required under paragraph 5, it appears that the situation is more serious, the Designated Teacher will again consider whether a referral should be made in accordance with paragraph 22 above.
This is one of the few paragraphs that has been substantially changed in the May 2010 version, relative to the previous version published in September 2009. What used to be the first bullet has been deleted. The existing bullets used to be the 2nd & 3rd of this section, while the first bullet used to say this
  • the complaint does not involve a serious criminal offence; and
What this means is that in the September 2009 version of the policy, a referral would be made if the complaint involved a serious criminal offence, irrespective of whether it was against the wishes of the child or parent. By deleting that bullet, the school has actually made it easier not to refer complaints, even in cases of serious criminal offences! This is heading in absolutely the opposite direction from what the ISI report demanded.

But we know from the ISI report that the school just doesn't refer cases involving staff or trustees to the authorities, irrespective of that the policy says. By making this change, the school appears to be thumbing its nose at the ISI.

The ISI report required that "no case of substance is investigated and dealt with under the school’s internal procedures". But the policy hasn't been changed to implement this. The second bullet of paragraph 23 is still talking about the school's internal procedures.

And the final sentence of paragraph 23 only promises that the Designated Teacher "will again consider whether a referral should be made" if the matter appears more serious, not that a referral will actually be made.

And if you find that this paragraph seems to cover much the same territory as paragraph 22, but saying slightly different things in a different way, you would be right. It all makes it that much easier for the school to find ways of not making a report to the authorities, they can pick and choose which version of the procedure they will apply - if in fact they bother to follow the procedure at all.


  1. In its most recent "follow up" report the ISI has encouraged the school to make changes to its CP policy. The single single change the school has made delivers worse safeguarding.

    Q: Has the ISI returned to the school to point this out and ask for an explanation?

    Q: When are the other changes that the ISI has suggested going to appear in the St Benedict's child protection policy? Term starts shortly.

    Q: Assuming the school decides to make the changes the ISI has suggested who or what is going to police the delivery of the changes? We have to ask this question because the school has demonstrated that no reliance can be placed upon those running institution to adhere to anything that is "inconvenient" in their eyes. So determined is the school to keep abuse unreported that it has repeatedly broken the law over decades by not even returning statutory Notifications.

    A question for the most ineffective civil service team in Government, housed at the offices of the DfE in Great Smith Street and Darlington - What action is the DfE Safeguarding team going to take over successive St Benedict's administrations breaking the law by failing to return Notifications under the Education Acts?

    The answer will send a powerful message to schools on the subject of safeguarding. If the DfE do nothing, effectively permitting the school to "get away with it," then the non statutory requirement for a school to make a referral to the "ISA" is compromised and of questionable value. Does Sir Roger Singleton understand this? I doubt it.

    The need to return Notifications was foolishly revoked in January 2010 with the introduction of SVGA 2006 and this bills demand for adherence to the "harm test." Unfortunately where a "Notification" was a much simpler and more effective tool, the application of the "harm test" to incidents that are considered for a 'referral' is going to put more money in lawyers’ pockets, raise threshold bar for reporting abuse, and further fudge the deplorably disjointed and complex world of child protection.

  2. The point above is well made. However the fact that term starts soon is important. It would be useful to have some clarification on the response to ISI, as well as further explanation of what is required for the recommendations to be met. The recommendation that anyone against whom an allegation has been made should not live on site, for example. Which members of the community would this include? What plans are n place to ensure this happens? Mr West, maybe you are able to give your view?

  3. The question that has to be asked is what power, if any, does the ISI have to ensure schools adopt "recommendations" made in their reports. Looking at what actions St Benedict's has undertaken so far (almost nothing) following the delivery of the follow up report the answer seems to be that the ISI possesses no authority. Despite the inspectorate being allegedly ‘independent’ of the ISC I speculate the only power they have to persuade the school to follow the recommendations in their report is to whisper from behind a cupped hand "if you want to remain a member of the ISC you had better follow our suggestions!.” I speculate that at best all the ISI can do is gum a school to death, a thoroughly blood free exercise. It is therefore likely to be seen as a wet organisation and of no concern whatsoever to a determindly wayward administration.

  4. The most impoirtant of the ISI's recmmendations, given under "Regulatory requirements" is as follows.

    investigations are to be carried out by the local safeguarding children board or in case of doubt the advice of such an agency is to be sought


    no case of substance is investigated and dealt with under the school’s internal procedures

    As you can plainly see from my analysis of the school's child protection policy, this is a long way from having been implemented. If you are the parent of a pupil at the school, you have every right to ask why this hsn't yet been done.

    With regard to people living on site, the ISI report recommends this:

    Ensure that any staff or members of the religious community live away from the school, if they are subject to allegations of misconduct related to safeguarding or convicted of wrongdoing.

    That would seem to apply both to those who who are under investigation, and those who (whether or not the invesigation has resulted in a criminal conviction) have been found to post a risk to the safety of children. Although the ISI report mentions no names, it described two monks as living in the Abbey under "restricted ministry", and from the descriptions it is clear that the report is referring to Father Stanislaus Hobbs and Father Gregory Chillman.

    I do not know whether the ISI recommendation has been acted on. Again, any parent has every reason to ask about this. If you do ask, I would be very interested to hear about any answer you are given.