The child protection policy of any school should state this clearly. No ifs, buts or wriggle room. Just a straightforward policy that everything gets forwarded, with no attempt at any kind of preliminary investigation by the school.
The reason for this is clearly stated in the St. Augustine's complaint against the ISI.
25. This is of particular relevance because on publication of the Proposed Report the School will come under an obligation to send copies to parents and guardians, many of whom also have children at St. Benedict's. The favourable assessment of St. Benedict's is liable to be compared with the unfavourable assessment of the School.As this makes clear, independent schools are in competition with each other, and a paedophile scandal is terribly bad for business. If a school does its own investigations (which school staff are not trained for) there is a great temptation to conclude either that nothing really happened, or that the matter can be handled internally without the need to notify outside authorities and risk adverse publicity.
This temptation is compounded if the member of staff under investigation is long-serving or is an old friend of the head teacher. The assumption is that the person under investigation would never do such a thing, and so the investigation is prejudiced from the outset by the preconceptions of the investigator.
So there is a clear conflict of interest if the school tries to investigate cases itself. It is to prevent this conflict of interest that the law requires that the LADO be automatically informed. The LADO is independent both of the school and of the staff member, and moreover is properly trained.
The current Ealing Safeguarding Children Board guidance states on this point
15.2.1 The employer must inform the local authority designated officer (LADO) immediately an allegation is made.Nice and simple. Clear, succinct and to the point. The current St. Augustine's policy, the one they have spent nearly a year updating following the ISI inspection, says this in clause 8.
When deciding whether to make a referral, following an allegation or suspicion of abuse, the Designated teacher will not make her own decision over what appear to be borderline cases, but rather the doubts and concerns should be discussed with the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO). This may be done tentatively and without giving names in the first instance. What appears trivial at first may later be revealed to be much more serious and an allegation of child abuse or neglect may lead to a criminal investigation. Thus the School should not do anything that may jeopardise a police investigation, such as asking a child leading questions or attempting to investigate the allegation of abuse.So many words! So much wriggle room! That paragraph should simply say this.
The Designated teacher must immediately inform the local authority designated officer (LADO) of a suspicion or allegation.of abuse.So, nearly a year after St. Augustine's was inspected and told that its child protection policy was illegal on this specific point, the school still hasn't got this right. It's not even as if it is terribly hard to do the right thing here. Why go to such lengths to get such a simple matter wrong?