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Safeguarding Policies

Volume 601: debated on Monday 26 October 2015

When carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, schools must have regard to the statutory guidance we have issued, “Keeping children safe in education”, which includes ensuring an effective child protection policy, together with appropriate safeguarding responses to children going missing from education and procedures for handling allegations of peer-to-peer abuse.

Further to that reply, can the Minister highlight what support is available to help parents, school governors and teachers who may have concerns about local issues to report those concerns?

Where there is a specific safeguarding incident that either a governor or parent wants to raise, they should contact their local authority’s children’s services safeguarding team; where there are concerns about safeguarding processes at a school, they should be raised through the school complaints process; and if the safeguarding processes at the local authority are causing concern, they should be raised with Ofsted. In law, it is the local safeguarding children’s board that is responsible for developing and scrutinising local procedures and arrangements, but I am sure my hon. Friend will also know that the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children has an excellent helpline to enable parents who have concerns about safeguarding in their school to raise them directly.

Ofsted recently praised Stockport academy for its outstanding work to keep pupils safe. The school uses a software application into which staff input any concern they have about a child, including if they are missing from a lesson. That means that immediate checks can be made to ensure that the child is in a safe place. Does the Minister agree that that approach to safeguarding, using modern technology, should be used by more schools?

I know how assiduous the hon. Lady has been in pursuing these matters, and it is good to hear of that initiative in her constituency from Stockport academy. I would like to learn more—as, I am sure, would the Department—about how it has achieved that, so that that best practice might be spread more widely. I am happy to discuss that with her further.

Many parents will be surprised to know that under the previous Government a requirement for volunteers in schools to undergo a Criminal Records Bureau check was removed. Is the Minister planning to review that change in the law?

There are no current decisions to be made about whether to review that particular measure. As the hon. Lady knows, there were some widespread changes made during the last Parliament—they were predominantly led by the Home Office, but the Department for Education was kept closely involved. We feel that we have a robust system in place, but more important is making sure that the people who are delivering the services have the best practice, skills and knowledge at their disposal, because where things go wrong, it tends to be through basic practice failures, rather than systems.