In November 2018, Ofsted statistics revealed that 1 in 10 small private schools are still failing on safeguarding and watchdog released data about the 1,076 independent schools it inspects, warning that “ineffective safeguarding judgements remain high.” Alongside this, Ofsted also warned that almost 25% of private schools under its remit still fail to comply with the independent school standards.
In another report of a school ran by Schools Company Trust, it read: “Children are not safe. It is impossible to know where they are, what they are doing or whom they are with. This is due to a lack of systems, poor performance and low expectation of staff.” After the academy was deemed unsafe by government advisers, it was told to remove its older pupils immediately and it is now in the process of closing.
These two reports are the tip of the iceberg. All it takes is a simple online search to see the extent of the safeguarding challenges that schools are currently facing. But we have to question the reason for this. When it comes to public schools or schools for those with special educational needs or disabilities, it is a toxic combination of funding cuts at such as time as the drivers that enable vulnerabilities in children and young people are at an all-time high. Those living below the poverty line is increasing weekly, substance abuse and lack of permanent employment or housing continue to worsen, whilst at the same time, online influencers of threat such as online bullying and grooming continue to escalate. This combination of push and pull factors mean that the requirement for funding to effectively identify, mitigate and respond to a far more complex safeguarding environment is greater than ever, yet both public and private schools feel let down by lack of funding to the support services. A lack of funding does not just impact a school’s ability to respond to existing safeguarding risks, it actively increases risk and vulnerability of conditions for abuse and neglect become more permissive.
School funding cuts are resulting in a large volume of teaching assistants and support staff being made redundant. This means that there are less staff to monitor pupils and the impact of this, unfortunately, means that warning signs of a child being in danger or neglected are being missed. An article by The Independent from October 2018 highlighted the reality of the issue, showing how children as young as five from across England went to Parliament to tell and sing their stories about the impact of swingeing budget cuts.
So what can be done to increase safeguarding and ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people? The NSPCC state the following five points on how schools can safeguard children:
- Create safe environments for children and young people through robust safeguarding practices
- Ensure that adults who work in the school, including volunteers, do not pose a risk to children
- Make sure staff are trained, know how to respond to concerns and keep up to date with policy and practice
- Teach children and young people about staying safe
- Maintain an environment where children feel confident to approach any member of staff if they have a worry or problem.
- In today’s modern world, effective safeguarding is more important than it ever. We emphasise the requirement for qualifications within the engineering, healthcare and transportation sectors, yet in order to work with children, an individual does not have to hold a regulated safeguarding qualification as proof of competence.
Attendance-based training in safeguarding is proven to be insufficient. At Intqual-pro, we have developed a range of OFQUAL-regulated safeguarding qualifications to rectify the shortfalls in this crucial area of responsibility, yet only too often we have to deliver these qualifications after a serious safeguarding incident occurs within a place of education. It is our aim for 2019 to enable more providers of education to effectively qualify their staff in a proactive manner.
With our specific areas of expertise, we are well placed to educate practitioners around the growing areas of risk such as online bullying and anti-radicalisation, without omitting the significance of more traditional safeguarding issues.
Intqual-pro continues to expand and have become an industry leader in the design, development and delivery of intelligence, cyber and safeguarding associated qualifications. With a footprint across over 25 countries, you can contact Intqual-pro on 01234 381158 or email Enquiries@Intqual-pro.com. Alternatively, you can visit their website www.intqual-pro.com.