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Children: Protection

Volume 709: debated on Tuesday 24 March 2009


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 22 October, I asked Sir Roger Singleton to carry out a review of safeguarding arrangements in independent schools, non-maintained special schools and boarding schools in England. The terms of reference asked him to look at the current statutory and non-statutory safeguarding arrangements that impact on these schools, to examine how these arrangements work in practice, focusing on systems and not on individual cases, and to make any recommendations that are needed to strengthen current arrangements.

I warmly welcome Sir Roger’s report Keeping Our Schools Safe, which sets out the strengths and weaknesses of the existing systems and makes several recommendations. His thorough and careful review shows that the current framework generally works well but that there are elements that need to be reviewed and updated to bring about a series of small changes that together will bring significant benefits. The wide-ranging recommendations affect DCSF, Ofsted and the other independent school inspectorates, local authorities and local safeguarding children boards.

We accept all the recommendations and my response to Sir Roger sets out the immediate steps that we are taking to implement those things that can be done straightaway. We will consult with key stakeholders in preparing this plan, to ensure that they are committed to working together to put in place the strengthened arrangements set out in the report. I will be publishing my detailed response to Sir Roger’s recommendations alongside the detailed response to Lord Laming’s recent report on the protection of children in England at the end of April.

Copies of the review and our initial response have been placed in the House of Commons Library.