Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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All schools can provide a safer environment for children - Ofsted

There is no reason why good practice in safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare should not be a feature of every school, according to an Ofsted report launched today.

The report found that the measures put in place by the best schools to keep children safe could be replicated by every school.

The report ‘Safeguarding in schools: best practice’ distils the features of exceptionally good practice in safeguarding in schools where safeguarding was judged to be outstanding between September 2009 and July 2010.

Inspection has helped schools focus on the need to ensure that all appropriate steps have been taken to help guarantee and promote children’s safety. Nearly all schools now give a high priority to getting their safeguarding procedures right. However, safeguarding arrangements were no better than satisfactory in 21 per cent of schools overall, indicating the need for considerable improvement.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Miriam Rosen said:

“There can be no issue of greater importance to parents and carers, or to schools, than the safety of their children.

“The good practice described in this report is replicable, with a sensible awareness of the local context, in every school. I hope schools can use this report as a practical working document to help them understand the features of good practice and to make improvements where required.”

In outstanding schools, pupils’ safeguarding is central to all that the schools do. These schools often go above and beyond the requirements which they do not see as a burden. Every member of the school community is involved in some way.

Key features of outstanding practice include high quality leadership and management that makes safeguarding a priority, a high priority given to training in safeguarding, robust arrangements for site security, and a curriculum that teaches pupils how to stay safe, how to protect themselves from harm and how to take responsibility for their own and others’ safety.

Senior managers at those schools which demonstrate the best practice encourage their staff to draw on expertise of other agencies and professionals to support and protect pupils and their families. At Green Lane Community and Special School, the school nurse, speech and language therapist and the occupational therapist each have an important role in extending staff expertise and working with pupils. In the Vale of Evesham School, the full-time e-learning technician plays a key role in protecting pupils from harm when using the internet. 

Through the curriculum, pupils are taught the skills they will need for adult life. At Green Lane Community Special School, for example, the independent travel programme was a key element of the curriculum. Pupils were taught in a structured and safe manner to travel within the local area using roads and public transport safely. They were taught the procedures to follow if things went wrong and this gave them confidence and helped them to be less reliant on others.

Weaknesses in safeguarding are usually related to failings in leadership, management and governance. In the small number of schools judged inadequate for issues solely related to safeguarding, the breaches were serious. Inspectors look at safeguarding early on in an inspection so that simple errors can be corrected before the end of the inspection.

As well as promoting best practice, the report sets out clearly how Ofsted inspects a school’s safeguarding procedures. The key word for both inspectors and schools is ‘reasonable’. The report aims to reassure schools that Ofsted makes judgements about safeguarding that are both fair and reasonable.

The schools which were involved in the survey are listed at the end of this report and each has confirmed its willingness to be contacted and to share its good practice with others.

Notes to editors

  1. The report ‘Safeguarding in schools: best practice’ can be found on the Ofsted website at www.ofsted.gov.uk.
  2. The definition of safeguarding adopted by Ofsted can be found in the document Working together to safeguard children, Department for Education and Skills, 2006; www.education.gov.uk/publications/standard/publicationDetail/Page1/WT2006.
  3. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.
  4. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 020 7421 6899 or via Ofsted's enquiry line 0300 1231231 between 8.30am - 6.30pm Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359.

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