Thursday, 2 September 2010

The Child Protection Policy - 19

It doesn't get much better over the next two paragraphs.
24. External agencies: Whether or not the School decides to refer a particular complaint to the SSD or the police, the parents and pupil will be informed in writing of their right to make their own complaint or referral to the Social Services Department or the Child Protection Unit of the police and will be provided with contact names, addresses and telephone numbers, as appropriate.
Remember, this is a policy which has supposedly been changed by the school to be "fully compliant" with regulatory requirements described in the ISI report, which required that "no case of substance is investigate and dealt with under the school’s internal procedures". But this paragraph remains, which suggests that a complaint about a child protection matter made presumably a by a pupil or his parents may not be referred by the school to Social Services.
25. Monitoring of Low Level Child Protection Concerns in School

All concerns a teacher has regarding a child protection issue must be discussed with the Designated Teacher (with the exception of concerns about the Designated Teacher, where the Headmaster should be approached instead). There may be insufficient grounds or evidence to suggest referral to an outside agency. However, it must be stressed that this is not sufficient reason to ignore a concern. In case of doubt the Designated Teacher will contact either the duty social worker or the duty education welfare/social worker/LADO to seek clarification on what action should be taken.
Now, I do accept that there can be cases where a teacher quite properly brings a vague concern to the Designated Teacher - for instance a change in behaviour of a child which might conceivably be an indication of abuse but may well have a perfectly innocent explanation. Some degree of judgement does have to be exercised in deciding whether and when to make a referral. But this paragraph goes way beyond that. This paragraph talks about concerns about the designated teacher, and from the context it is clear that the paragraph also applies to concerns about other members of staff. If there is a concern which is sufficiently specific that it is about a particular member of staff, then it is unlikely that by the ISI's requirement such a case is appropriate to be managed internally within the school.

And yet this paragraph remains, with only minor changes relative to the September 2009 version of the policy. "Fully compliant"? I don't think so.


  1. The school cannot be trusted with any child protection issues - but "disengaged" parents will still place their children in the institution without daring to ask one question about safeguarding in case they are "marked" as trouble makers. And lets not forget, in reality there is very little choice of schools despite the all nonsense talked by successive governments.

    Lord Carlile needs the substantive input of someone who understands the dynamics of abuse in independent fee paying settings else his report will be flawed for this reason alone.

  2. Is anyone aware of the terms of reference for this enquiry. I have not heard of any requests for input into it or details of when and where it will be occurring. There is no mention of it on the school web site or in the parish magazine. And please could somebody explain to to Father Abbott that there were not mistakes made in the past. Serious Criminal sexual Assaults took place

  3. And the school broke the law which permitted one abuser (Maestri)to return to teaching as though he had just decided to move schools.

  4. It is strange how some parents, mostly at private schools, leap to the defence of their child’s school particularly when the matter of abuse heaves onto the doorstep. I had a St Benedict’s parent tell me "oh the abbott was so embarrassed about Pearce" the implication being this was a "one off" and this sort of thing had never happened before. I've wondered the reason why parents sometimes feel the need to defend a school in such circumstances, and in part it seems to be that some parents do not like to think they have made a £60,000 mistake in deciding to send their child to the school. Their decision to use a school is taken largely on trust and reputation, parents almost never ask about child protection because it is a subject of which they have little knowledge, and they do not like the idea that their questions might be dismissed as foolishness by the school. My experience of asking schools questions on this subject is I speculate typical. Of four schools only one engaged and was confident of the subject. I was asking very difficult questions of the headmaster because I knew the school had, since its last inspection, removed a member of staff for child protection issues. My child did not attend the school at the time this happened but research produced the information. I wanted to know if a referral had been made - it had. There is no reason for you not to be told this despite the cloak of ‘pronounced’ confidentiality that is repeatedly and mistakenly applied to this subject by all those who have anything to do with the child protection, the worst offenders being the inspectorates’ and the DfE. I wanted an assurance from the head that a repeat in similar circumstances could not happen because the school had learned from any failings and taken action to ensure a repeat was unlikely. He produced the evidence of action but what he did not know and as I discovered later, clever pupils had discovered a very simple 'work around' which meant the same thing could have happened without the school knowing.

    The Head though was excellent and confident with the subject. A rarity, and as I was to discover, the reason for his ease was as a result of him being a former Commission for Social Care Inspector. He was highly trained on social welfare matters which gave him a unique advantage over most Heads or Governors.

    Following their next inspection, by which time my child was attending the school, the ISI report was silent on these matters. The very serious incident that should have been inspected against because it had been referred was not in any way even obliquely mentioned. It is foolish and dangerous and completely deceitful that any inspectorate responsible for these matters is knowingly misleading parents who are being wrongly informed “you can make educated and correct decisions about your child’s education as a result of the information we give you in our reports.” This is false.

    Inspection reports tell us nothing about safeguarding. Parental logic says “I’ve heard nothing of that sort about the place.” Well you will not because the entire structure is designed so you get to hear nothing. All of us are entirely dependent on the reports of the inspectorate – and as Mr West has brought to our attention – the ISI’s are worthless.

  5. It seems that the first steps needed are to ensure that isi recommendations are implemented and that the regulatory requirements are fulfilled. Term begins very soon and it is important for parents at the schools affected to be reassured that their Boards of Trustees are ensuring the safeguarding of the children in those schools. The Charities Commission also has a duty to ensure that its requirement for trustees to safeguard children is met. Trustees who ignore, or are ignorant of, their responsibilities are not worthy of their posts. In the meantime the Abbey has a moral duty, beyond any legal technicalities, to respond to isi's recommendations and in so doing implement them with the utmost vigour. With the Pope's visit around the corner and the eyes of the readers of the Times, Independent on Sunday and Evening Standard upon them (and God forbid the tabloids take up the can only imagine the headlines in the Sun!) it would be an act of monumental folly not to act. If they didn't know what to do before there is no excuse for not knowing now, so failure to act can only mean that despite everything that has happened safeguarding is still not really very high up the agenda.