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Recommendations - Residential schools

These recommendations were made in the residential schools investigation report.

 

Improve inspection and standards in residential school

Recommendations

The Department for Education and the Welsh Government should:

  • require all residential special schools to be inspected against the quality standards used to regulate children’s homes in England and care homes in Wales;

  • reintroduce a duty on boarding schools and residential special schools to inform the relevant inspectorate of allegations of child sexual abuse and other serious incidents, with professional or regulatory consequences for breach of this duty; if the recommendation above is implemented, residential special schools will automatically be subject to this duty; and

  • introduce a system of licensing and registration of educational guardians for international students which requires Disclosure and Barring Service and barred list checks to be undertaken.

Responses

On 30 June 2022, the UK government stated that it was still of the view that the best way to protect children in residential special schools was to strengthen the National Minimum Standards (NMS).  It stated that it will consider how the NMS could be strengthened, drawing on the children's homes quality standards. 

In respect of the second part of this recommendation, the UK government stated that residential special schools who are dual registered as children's homes must comply with the children's home quality standards, which includes notification requirements. It will consider reporting requirements as part of its broader consideration of mandatory reporting. It also stated that it was considering options to strengthen the safeguarding of international students, including the registration and licensing of educational guardians.  

On 30 June 2022, the Welsh Government stated that it would use regulation-making powers to regulate the care and support aspect of residential special schools in Wales. The date for this to come into force is to be agreed, however it could be December 2023. The Welsh Government also stated that notification requirements will be included as part of the proposed regulation of residential special schools, and that work to implement the final part of the recommendation would be taken forward alongside work on National Minimum Standards for boarding schools.

Respond to allegations and concerns in residential schools

Recommendations

The Department for Education and the Welsh Government should:

  • introduce a set of national standards for local authority designated officers in England and in Wales to promote consistency; and

  • clarify in statutory guidance that the local authority designated officer can be contacted for informal advice as well as when a concern or allegation needs to be referred.

Responses

On 30 June 2022, the UK government stated that it was considering the scope and timetable for a review of the statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children. It stated that it will consider revised content on the role of local authority designated officers, and that it will consider running a full public consultation on changes to the statutory guidance. 

On 30 June 2022, the Welsh Government stated that in most, if not all, cases designated officers are qualified social workers and, as such, already adhere to professional standards. However, in addition, Social Care Wales is working on national minimum standards for safeguarding trainin

Amend the governance and registration processes for independent schools

Recommendations

The Department for Education and the Welsh Government should:

  • amend the Independent School Standards to include the requirements that there is an effective system of governance, based on three principles of openness to external scrutiny, transparency and honesty within the governance arrangements, and the ability of governors to have difficult conversations both internally and with those providing external scrutiny;

  • amend the Independent School Standards to stipulate that the proprietor cannot be the designated safeguarding lead; and

  • amend the current system of registration of independent schools to apply the same standards to registrants as those applying to open a free school or early years provision.

Responses

On 30 June 2022, the UK government stated that it agreed to the first two points of the recommendation in principle. It stated that it intended to consult on revised Independent School Standards in 2023 and was making changes through Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance to stipulate that the proprietor cannot be the designated safeguarding lead. 

The UK government also stated that it will continue to explore the registration system and ensure, where appropriate, that the registration system for independent schools is reflective of the system for early years and free schools.

On 30 June 2022, the Welsh Government stated that it will amend and strengthen the Independent School Standard Regulations in line with each point set out in this recommendation, including in respect of the designated safeguarding lead and the three principles set out in the recommendation, and that it will amend the registration process for independent schools in Wales.

Ensure there is safeguarding training and effective relationships, sex and health education in schools

Recommendations

The Department for Education and the Welsh Government should:

  • set nationally accredited standards and levels of safeguarding training in schools;

  • make the highest level of safeguarding training mandatory for headteachers, designated safeguarding leads in England or designated safeguarding persons in Wales, designated safeguarding governors, or the proprietor or head of the proprietorial body; and

  • undertake an urgent review in order to improve the provision and effectiveness of relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) for children with special educational needs and disabilities, both for children who are in mainstream settings and for those in special schools.

Responses

On 30 June 2022, the UK government stated that it will further consider setting nationally accredited standards and levels of safeguarding training in schools. It also stated that Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance was strengthened and sets a ‘strong framework’ for a higher level of training to be undertaken by designated safeguarding leads and headteachers.

The UK government also stated a national evaluation of Relationships and Sex Education implementation, including in special schools, is planned and that it would consider the options for a specific piece of work to support teachers of Relationships and Sex Education in special schools. 

On 30 June 2022, the Welsh Government stated National Minimum Safeguarding Training Standards and a framework training requirements by role are being developed by Social Care Wales. This will apply to independent schools. It also stated that as part of the strengthening of the independent school regulations, options for strengthening the requirements for safeguarding training and prescribing the levels of training for those identified in the recommendation will be considered. In addition, it will consider the provision and effectiveness of its new Relationships and Sexuality Education Code for children with additional learning needs in Wales.

Inform inspectorates of Disclosure and Barring referrals

Recommendations

The Department for Education and the Welsh Government should:

  • require schools to inform the relevant inspectorate when they have referred a member of staff to the Disclosure and Barring Service, the Teaching Regulation Agency or the Education Workforce Council; and include in the national standards for local authority designated officers a requirement that local authority designated officers should share information on referrals from schools with the relevant inspectorate (see recommendation 2 of the Residential Schools investigation report).

Responses

On 30 June 2022, the UK government stated that it was cautious about creating a reporting mechanism that only related to the Disclosure and Barring Service and Teaching Regulation Agency when its position in Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance is to have a ‘simple’ system that applies equally across the system. The UK government also stated that it will consider a requirement that local authority designated officers should share information on referrals from schools with the relevant inspectorate, as part of an update to Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance.

On 30 June 2022, the Welsh Government stated that it accepted this recommendation in principle but that it does not currently have the powers to 'require' and there is a need to establish this. It stated it will work to establish the necessary vehicle to implement this recommendation and take appropriate action.

Vetting and barring in schools

Recommendations

The Department for Education should amend the Teachers’ Disciplinary (England) Regulations 2012 to bring all teaching assistants, learning support staff and cover supervisors within the misconduct jurisdiction of the Teaching Regulation Agency.

The Department for Education and the Welsh Government should amend Keeping Children Safe in Education and Keeping Learners Safe to: 

  • provide more detailed guidance as to the quality, nature and degree of supervision required for supervised volunteers working with children in schools; and

  • make clear that Disclosure and Barring Service checks are free of charge for supervised volunteers, and should be obtained wherever practicable.

The Department for Education and the Welsh Government should amend the regulations to provide that inclusion on the children’s barred list automatically disqualifies the individual from being a governor or proprietor of any school.

The Home Office should amend the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 so that proprietors and members of the proprietorial body and governors should be checked against the children’s barred list.

Responses

On 30 June 2022, the UK government stated that anyone undertaking teaching work can be referred to the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) and this could include teaching assistants and learning support staff. The TRA does not consider a person's specific job role or position. The UK government stated that it will continue to monitor and review how the teacher misconduct regime operates.

The UK government stated that it agrees in principle with the recommendation to provide more detailed guidance on supervised volunteers and will consider how and when to update Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE). It also stated that it accepts the recommendation in respect of DBS checks, and has reflected this in KCSIE 2022. 

The UK government stated that the Department for Education will consider whether proprietors or governors should be checked against the children's barred list and, if so, will work with the Home Office and DBS to implement this. 

On 30 June 2022, the Welsh Government stated that it accepts this recommendation in principle and will consider it and make the necessary changes to the Keeping Learners Safe guidance. It also stated that it considers that the Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003 already fulfils the recommendation in respect of the children's barred list, as it already applies to proprietors and staff at independent schools. However, it will consider whether the relevant provision can be amended to apply to governors.

Improve standards in schools in Wales

Recommendations

The Welsh Government should:

  • update the Independent School Standards as a matter of urgency;

  • update the national minimum standards for boarding schools as a matter of urgency;

  • legislate so that all residential special schools are judged against the quality standards in place for care homes in Wales;

  • ensure that all teachers and learning support staff in independent schools in Wales are required to register with the Education Workforce Council; and

  • consider extending the duty to report a child at risk of harm in section 130 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 to independent school staff.

Responses

On 30 June 2022, the Welsh Government stated that it will amend and strengthen the independent school regulations, and that work is ongoing to draft the legislation. The Welsh Government also stated that it will use regulation making powers to regulate the care and support aspect of residential special schools in Wales. The date for this to come into force is to be agreed, however it could be December 2023.  

In addition, the Welsh Government stated that it will update the requirements for staff in independent schools to register with the Education Workforce Council (EWC). Work is currently ongoing to draft legislation to require teaching staff and learning support workers at independent schools to register with the EWC.

The Welsh Government also stated that it is aware that the Duty to Report needs updating to include areas not previously included. It has begun work to amend legislation to extend the duty of care provision to areas that were not previously included, including independent schools.

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