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Pupils: Guardianship

Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 4 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, what mechanisms are in place to regulate or assess the quality of commercial guardianship services provided by UK organisations to overseas pupils at UK schools; how often such mechanisms are reviewed; and when the last such occasion was. (146494)

Most overseas pupils are educated in independent schools. Guardianship arrangements set up by independent schools, and accommodation provided by independent boarding schools, including accommodation provided via host families, must meet national minimum standards. These cover suitability to work with children and the quality of boarding provision. These standards require all adult host family members and guardians to be checked through the Criminal Records Bureau, and are monitored through Ofsted inspection. Some independent schools use commercial guardianship services and in this case must satisfy themselves about the quality of service. However pupils placed under commercial arrangements are subject to the same level of monitoring through inspection against the national minimum standards.

It is also a legal requirement for a private foster carer to notify their local authority about private fostering arrangements. New measures in the Children Act 2004 and the Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005, which came into effect in July 2005, strengthened the private fostering Notification scheme, and provided additional safeguards for privately fostered children. We have made it clear that if the Notification scheme does not work well, we will introduce a Registration scheme for private foster carers.