Singleton urges streamlining of safeguarding rules for schools

Sir Roger Singleton today called for the government to streamline the rules and regulations governing safeguarding in schools, following a review of protection arrangements in independent, boarding and non-maintained special schools.

Singleton (pic left, credit Tom Parkes), who was commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families to carry out the review, said current arrangements caused confusion for schools, who had to make their way through a “thicket” of regulations.

Confusion over CRBs

Singleton, the chair of vetting agency the Independent Safeguarding Authority, who starts work next week as the government’s first chief adviser on the safety of children, said one source of “considerable confusion” were the circumstances under which a person could start work without having obtained a CRB check.

The DCSF has accepted all of Singleton’s recommendations and has said it will start reviewing regulations immediately.

Junior children’s minister Delyth Morgan said: “We must cut through any overlapping requirements and put in place a simpler, more streamlined framework.”

Variable links with safeguarding boards

Singleton also found there was “very variable” links between local safeguarding children boards and independent schools, with recalcitrance on one or both sides in some areas about working together.

He said the relationship should be looked as part of the forthcoming review of the Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance, which the DCSF has promised in the light of Lord Laming’s child protection report, published this month.

Boards responsible for all children

Singleton added: “Safeguarding boards have responsibility for all children in their patches, not just children in maintained schools and not just when things have gone wrong. They have a responsibility to promote good practice and ensure training opportunities are available.”

Although Singleton did not examine the role of Ofsted directly, he suggested that the inspectorate should carry out more unannounced inspections of schools where safeguarding arrangements have caused concern.

As well as inspecting care arrangements in boarding schools and residential special schools, Ofsted currently inspects independent schools that are not affiliated to the Independent Schools Council or Focus Learning Trust.

Major safeguarding concerns

In its 2007-8 annual report, Ofsted said it was a “major concern that about a third of non-association independent
schools do not fully meet the requirements for safeguarding pupils”.

Other recommendations made by Singleton today included:-

  • There must be independent scrutiny of a school’s safeguarding arrangements by a governor, trustee or someone independent of the school.
  • Independent schools must inform local authorities when a child leaves the school.
  • All children who live overseas but go to school in England should be included in ContactPoint, the database of all children in England.

The DCSF will issue a full response to Singleton’s report by the end of next month.

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Safeguarding adviser Roger Singleton says joint working is a priority

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