23. Referral guidelines: A referral to the SSD or police will not normally be made whereThis 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
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.
- 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.
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.
- the complaint does not involve a serious criminal offence; and
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.