Thursday, 22 September 2011

Ofsted Report: The National Picture of Safeguarding

1.        Parents, carers and children should feel reassured that almost all schools now take a careful and responsible approach to their safeguarding arrangements. In 2009/10, the effectiveness of safeguarding procedures in maintained schools was good or outstanding in 77% of schools, although this overall percentage masks variation across the sector. For example, safeguarding was good or outstanding in 85% of special schools and 81% of pupil referral units, compared with 77% of secondary schools and 75% of primary schools. It was outstanding in 65% of nursery schools, 46% of special schools, 32% of pupil referral units, 19% of secondary schools and 15% of primary schools.

2.        On the other hand, safeguarding arrangements in 21% of schools were only satisfactory overall, indicating the need for considerable improvement. Arrangements were inadequate – unacceptable in other words – in 2% of schools (including 5% of pupil referral units). Weaknesses in safeguarding are usually related to broader failings in leadership, management and governance. In the small number of schools where safeguarding was judged to be inadequate, common weaknesses included:

  the failure to maintain a single central record of recruitment and vetting checks covering all adults who had regular contact with children

  insufficient child protection training

  key risk assessments not completed

  a failure by the governing body to monitor and review the policies to protect children.

3.        The media has in recent years reported that Ofsted is judging schools to be inadequate (‘failing’) solely on the basis of weaknesses in their safeguarding arrangements. This is very rarely the case. Indeed, in 2009/10, of over 6,000 schools inspected, only 26 were judged to be inadequate for issues related solely to safeguarding. In these cases, breaches will have been serious; inspectors turn to safeguarding early in a visit, allowing simple errors to be corrected before they leave.

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