School heads and governors ignore Bichard recruitment training advice

Many head teachers and school governors have failed to take key child protection training recommended by the report into the Soham murders.

Sir Michael Bichard recommended that all heads and governors should receive training on safer recruitment after he found that the school that employed Ian Huntley as a caretaker did not properly conform to recruitment guidelines.

Soham Village College failed to take up open references on Huntley, who went on to murder two 10-year-old girls, and failed to identify gaps in his employment history, Bichard found.

And in its third progress report on Bichard’s report into the murders, published last week, the Home Office said only a “low” number of heads and governors had accessed the Safer Recruitment online training programme.

All heads and a nominated governor from each maintained school and non-maintained special school, plus two members of staff from every council, were given free access to the Safer Recruitment programme by the end of December 2005, while at least one person in every school had the “opportunity to complete” the training by the end of March 2006.

The training website is hosted by the National College for School Leadership, which has also commissioned Manchester Metropolitan University to develop a generic package of safer recruitment training materials for the wider children’s workforce.

The government also said last week that the new vetting and barring scheme for people working with children and vulnerable adults will be partly funded by an increase in the price of criminal records disclosures.

The Home Office said the vetting and barring scheme’s estimated 22m annual running costs were “likely to be funded by an increased [Criminal Records Bureau] disclosure fee”.

The scheme will be established through the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill, which is currently making its way through parliament.

The government looks likely to cover the costs of developing the scheme. But the fee levels for criminal records disclosures will be reviewed when the scheme starts operating in 2008.

The Criminal Records Bureau is also developing a “prioritised list” of “challenging” countries that have “insufficient quality” criminal records systems but send large numbers of people to the UK to work in sectors, such as social services, where checks are required.

  • Bichard Inquiry third progress report at

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