Safeguarding and promoting the health, safety and welfare of children is central to the ethos of all ISC schools.
High teacher/pupil ratios, effective pastoral care and house systems, all contribute to a caring and nurturing atmosphere.
There are a number of individuals and organisations relevant to the effective safeguarding in pupils at independent schools, as follows:
Department for Education
All independent schools in England are registered with the Department for Education and are regulated directly by the Secretary of State. Schools are required to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of children in their care. The DfE can close schools for serious or persistent breaches of standards.
Independent Schools Inspectorate
ISC independent schools in England are inspected regularly by the Independent Schools Inspectorate. ISI is a Government approved inspectorate. Inspection is for the benefit of pupils and seeks to improve the quality and effectiveness of their education and welfare. Boarding schools are inspected more frequently than day schools.
The school’s ‘proprietor’
The ‘proprietor’ of an independent school is the person or group responsible for the management of the school – typically the board of governors. The proprietor of each independent school has legal responsibilities in the area of safeguarding. For example, they must ensure that:
- the school has suitable child protection policies and procedures in place which are made available to parents and are on the school’s website
- the school operates safe recruitment procedures and makes sure that all appropriate checks are carried out on those who work with children
- the school has suitable procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse, including a trained senior member of the school to take lead responsibility
- all staff who work with children undertake regular child protection training
- any deficiencies or weaknesses in regard to child protection arrangements are remedied without delay
- an annual review of the school’s policies and procedures relating to safeguarding is carried out
The school’s child protection officer
All independent schools must have a senior member of staff designated as the child protection officer. The school’s child protection policy will identify the CPO and set out his/her main areas of responsibility. One such responsibility is to ensure that individuals are referred to the Disclosure and Barring Service where the person poses a risk of harm to children.
The Disclosure and Barring Service
DBS helps employers, including schools, make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. The DBS is responsible for:
- processing requests for criminal records checks.
- placing or removing people from the DBS children’s barred list.
Local authorities in England have a legal duty to improve the wellbeing of all children in the authority's area. Key components of the LA’s role are discharged by:
- Local Safeguarding Children Board. The LSCB has a range of functions including developing local safeguarding policy and procedures and scrutinising local arrangements.
- Local Authority Designated Officer. The LADO should provide advice and guidance to employers and voluntary organisations, liaising with the police and other agencies and monitoring the progress of cases to ensure that they are dealt with as quickly as possible, consistent with a thorough and fair process.
What to do if you need help
If you’re a child:
- Speak to a trusted adult, like a parent, teacher, head teacher or the school’s child protection officer
- Contact NSPCC’s ChildLine: www.childline.org.uk or phone 0800 1111
If you’re a parent:
- Obtain a copy of the school’s child protection policy
- Speak to the school’s child protection officer or head (or the LADO if you don’t wish to approach the school)