Friday, 15 October 2010

Yet another update to the Child Protection Policy

St Benedict's School has published its third version this year of its Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy, and its second version in September.

I've checked through the new version. The changes are solely in Appendix 2. Last month I described some Continuing shortcomings in the Child Protection Policy. These have mostly not been addressed in the newest version. The main improvement in the policy is to make it clearer that referrals of allegations to outside authority should specifically go to the LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer for child protection).

But Appendix 2 is still contradicted by various other bits of the policy. Although Appendix 2 mentions the LADO, section 23 simply mentions "the Social Services Department", and Section 22 mentions referral to SSD as well. because of these sorts of contradictions (there are far more than I have mentioned here) even this third version of the Child Protection Policy is still too full of holes to be worth much.

A child protection policy and procedure shouldn't be all that hard to write and to write clearly. In circumstance X, you do Y. Make sure that X and Y are adequately defined. Make sure that you don't have two different Ys for the same X in different parts of the document. Make sure that overall you cover all contingencies that you can think of as being reasonably plausible. For the unanticipated events, have a default situation of asking for guidance from the appropriate people in Social Services - the LADO for adult-on-child abuse, Childrens Services for child-on-child abuse.

This isn't hard to do. For the school to have such a poor child protection policy even at the third attempt this year means they really aren't trying. They are looking to make the minimum changes they think that they can get away with in terms of persuading the ISI and DfE that they have met the regulatory requirements. There is no sign of any interest in fulfilling Recommendation 2 of the ISI Supplementary Report, to "render the safeguarding policy a model of excellence in its wording, implementation and review".


  1. St Benedict’s School latest safeguarding policy

    Circumstances in which alleged abuse will be reported-

    5. Every complaint or suspicion of abuse from within or outside the School will be taken seriously and followed up and in all proper circumstances, as set out in this policy, will be referred to an external agency such as the social services department of the local authority (SSD).

    Nowhere in the document is “proper circumstances” defined which renders the policy useless and permits the school to do as it likes. This seems to be the idea given the provenance of this ghastly document which fails to protect children but does protect the institution which commissioned the policy.

    The provenance of the document is a firm of Bristol lawyers, Veale Wasborough.

    By comparison what does the London Safeguarding Children’s Board policy say?

    15.2.1. The employer must inform the local authority designated officer (LADO) immediately an allegation is made.

    No weasel words, crystal clear and incredibly easy.

    So what is the motivation for, the Trustees of St Benedict’s and the panel of ever silent school advisers, ignoring the London Safeguarding Children’s Board best practice?

    Answers on a postcard.

    By the way, unless the school engrosses the words contained in 15.2.1 into its own policy without qualification - pupils and their parents are unable to hold the school to account.

  2. from our Learned friends16 October 2010 at 00:30

    Case study ( from website of Messrs Veale Wasborough Solicitors, the firm which appears (see comment above) to have supplied the Child Protection Policy to St B's)

    "A religious educational charity was informed that one of its members had been arrested by the police after allegations of sexual abuse. The member had met the victim through the charity's work but the abuse was alleged to have taken place outside the charity's premises. Subsequently the individual was convicted and sentenced to 8 years in prison.

    The charity immediately reported the arrest to the Commission and took positive steps to protect its reputation (taking professional advice, informing parents and supporters of the charity and engaging with social services and the police). The Commission said this demonstrated an awareness of the trustees' duties and responsibilities."


    "A rule of thumb suggested by the Commission is that if an incident, including an alleged or suspected incident has been reported to trustees by their staff or volunteers, then they should consider reporting it to the Commission. Clearly, this assumes that trustees already have in place an effective reporting process."

  3. " The member had met the victim through the charity's work but the abuse was alleged to have taken place outside the charity's premises."

    Is the Abbey not the 'charity's premises'? And in any case they quote the only recorded instance when abuse took place outside the school. Most of Pearce's crimes took place on school property.

  4. 'A failure to have in place proper safeguarding procedures is treated by the Commission as an unmanaged risk to a charity and its beneficiaries.'


  5. ~
    Here once again is a collection of words which looks good and means nothing. They're all at it.

    What are 'proper safeguarding procedures?' Where is there a Charity Commission definition of their intent?


    The DfE would be challenged to answer the question and the Charity Commission do not know where to start - so they just pump bilge which makes them look good!

  6. They should be certain when it comes to child protection policy. Child abuse is not a big issue nowadays.