Welcome to the first SSS Learning newsletter of 2021. There is no doubt that during 2020, the education sector faced huge challenges to ensure continued support for vulnerable children and young people was maintained throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. It is clear amid another national lockdown that these challenges will continue.
Here at SSS Learning, we fully maintained our service provision throughout 2020, enabling thousands of schools to safely train their staff and volunteers both from home and work settings. We recognise the extra pressures the Covid-19 pandemic places on all educational settings and do hope our service and support eases some of that burden.
Please be reassured that measures are in place for us to continue to provide an uninterrupted service, whilst keeping our team safe. I can also confirm all our scheduled new courses and content will be released as planned.
We are delighted to announce the launch of our new Designated Mental Health Lead (DMHL) training course, designed to support those staff undertaking this role in line with HM Government guidelines. The course, available from the 27th January, provides a balance of theory and best practice for leadership, together with practical tools including case studies and video tutorials on specific mental health conditions, designed to support disseminating best practice to all staff. We are confident that this course, together with our Supporting Mental Health and Wellbeing of Children and Young People course for staff, will provide settings with a firm foundation of CPD for best practice.
In addition, we recognise the importance of parents in promoting the wellbeing of their child/ children, so have also produced a resource specifically designed for them. We are encouraging all settings to place the link to our Child Mental Health & Wellbeing- 10 Top Tips for Parents on the parent hub of your website. The short video describes practical ways parents can positively promote their child’s mental health and wellbeing.
Currently we are producing an extension to our Designated Safeguarding Lead package which focusses on preparing for case conferences / reviews, and a new Basic Food Hygiene course ideal for your kitchen staff.
We also plan to introduce system enhancements including:
- enabling access to courses to be optionally controlled by role, as well as by individual user, simplifying admin tasks and reducing opportunities for staff confusion;
- adding the facility for admin users to print a concise single-page Attainment Record Card for individual staff, ideal for including as part of their staff CPD record file.
These enhancements will be in place early in the year.
This month we will be launching our new YouTube page, packed with helpful videos on how to get the best out of using our system and expert commentary on all things safeguarding. You can also follow me @SSSLearning and the team @Sam_SSSLearning on twitter, LiveChat with us and contact us by emailing email@example.com.
Finally, on behalf of the team, I would like to thank you for your continued support. Your feedback is truly uplifting and please keep your suggestions on new courses and system development coming, we love to improve our system to suit your needs wherever we can!
Best wishes for the new year,
SamSam Preston Safeguarding Director
In the news:
Keeping children safe in education 2021 amendment
Following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, Keeping children safe in education 2020 has been amended to provide advice on how schools and colleges can check the past conduct of individuals who have lived or worked overseas.
From 01 January 2021 the TRA Teacher Services system will no longer maintain a list of those teachers who have been sanctioned in EEA member states. Paragraph 172 details how information about a teacher’s past conduct may be obtained namely,172. Individuals who have lived or worked outside the UK must undergo the same checks as all other staff in schools or colleges (set out in paragraphs 154 and 160). This includes obtaining (via the applicant) an enhanced DBS certificate (including barred list information, for those who will be engaging in regulated activity) even if the individual has never been to the UK. In addition, schools and colleges must make any further checks they think appropriate so that any relevant events that occurred outside the UK can be considered. These checks could include, where available:
- criminal records checks for overseas applicants - Home Office guidance can be found on GOV.UK; and for teaching positions
- obtaining a letter of professional standing from the professional regulating authority in the country in which the applicant has worked. Advice about which regulatory or professional body applicants should contact is available from the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom, UK NARIC.
- Where available, such evidence can be considered together with information obtained through other pre-appointment checks to help assess their suitability. Where this information is not available schools and colleges should seek alternative methods of checking suitability and or undertake a risk assessment that supports informed decision making on whether to proceed with the appointment. Although sanctions and restrictions imposed by another regulating authority do not prevent a person from taking up teaching positions in England, schools and colleges should consider the circumstances that led to the restriction or sanction being imposed when considering a candidate’s suitability for employment.
Further information can be found in DfE Guidance: Recruit teachers from overseas.
Consultation on the proposed Mental Health Bill 2022
HM Government have opened a consultation to gain views on changes to the Mental Health Act. The recommendations build upon proposals from an independent review of the Act, which was ordered by former Prime Minister Theresa May.
The proposed changes to the Mental Health Act, some forty years old, aim to put patients at the centre of decisions about their own care. This follows significant concerns about patient autonomy over their care and the disparities for those accessing mental health services, - in particular for people from minority ethnic backgrounds.
Black people are over four times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act, relative to population. (A person may be detained under the mental health act, or sectioned, for their own safety or the safety of others.) NHS data shows that in 2019/20 there were 321 detentions per 100,000 population for people who were black or black British, while there were 73 detentions per 100,000 for white people.
The proposed reforms will include a Patient and Carers Race Equality Framework to be introduced across all NHS mental health trusts, - described by HM Government as a practical tool to improve the outcome for BAME communities. A service to provide "culturally appropriate advocates" will also be developed, to enable patients from all ethnic backgrounds to be better supported.
In addition, the reforms will also ensure that autism or a learning disability cannot be a reason for detaining someone under the Act. Under the proposed reforms, a clinician will have to identify another psychiatric condition to order their detention.
Commenting on the proposed reforms, Director of external relations of the mental health charity Mind Sophie Corlett said: "This is just the beginning of what is now a long overdue process. At the moment, thousands of people are still subjected to poor, sometimes appalling, treatment, and many will live with consequences far into the future"
The consultation is now open to the public and will close at 11:59pm on the 21st April 2021.
Police spreading the message about mental health support
All police vans in North Yorkshire are displaying the Samaritans’ contact details to help spread the word about mental health support available over the winter period.
North Yorkshire Police, who have received more than 9,000 calls involving mental health in the past six months, hope that displaying the charity’s information may help people in their hour of need.
The move coincides with the start of the third lockdown introduced in response to increasing Covid-19 levels which has left many people feeling isolated. The Samaritans’ report they have provided emotional support to callers 1.2 million times in the first six months since social distancing began.
An estimated 40% of calls to police involve some kind of mental health issue. In the last six months, North Yorkshire Police has received 9,230 telephone calls which involved a variety of mental health factors.
This action complements existing measures the force has introduced which include a team of mental health specialists in the 999 control room to provide officers with expert advice as they deal with incidents and force wide training for officers and PCSOs to help them better understand mental health needs.
The force’s mental health and suicide prevention lead, Sergeant Elaine Malcolm acknowledged that the police have a vital role in helping people get the support and that they will work closely with other organisations to provide support to vulnerable people. Commenting on the new move, Sergeant Malcolm stated:
“So by displaying Samaritans’ contact details we hope to share information that can help people at a time when they need it most.”
A survey undertaken by the charity of 3,000 people across the UK found that 8% of people surveyed were experiencing mental health problems at the beginning of lockdown, rising to 10% by mid-May.
The Samaritans can be contacted free any time from any phone, including mobile telephones without credit, on 116 123 (this number will not show on phone bills) or at www.samaritans.org
Nine in ten female young offenders are victims of abuse
The Young Women’s Justice Project Literature Review has found that almost all female young offenders are likely to have been abused by a family member or someone they trust.
The report, published by Agenda (the alliance for women and girls at risk which campaigns for women and girls experiencing violence and abuse, poverty, poor mental health, addiction, criminalisation and homelessness to get the support and protection they need), the Standing Committee for Youth Justice (SCYJ) (an alliance of over 70 non-profit organisations working together to improve the youth justice system in England and Wales) and Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales who fund the Young Women’s Justice Project, has found that:
- as many as nine in ten girls under the age of 18 in the criminal justice system, may have experienced abuse;
- just under a third (63 %) of young female offenders aged between 16 and 24 have been victims of rape and/or domestic abuse.;
- 15 % of young women in the same age group have been involved in sex work.
The report also states that:
‘Young adult women in contact with the criminal justice system may also have experience of peer-on-peer abuse, defined as abuse which ‘features physical, sexual and emotional abuse between young people, and may occur within their friendship groups or intimate relationships’
In addition, the report details that young women are also increasingly being exploited through county lines drug distribution networks.
The research also highlights that poor mental health and substance abuse are problems faced by young offenders with experience of trauma. The report states that:
‘Use of substances can exacerbate experiences of mental ill-health or be used as a coping mechanism’ and that ‘that women and girls are more likely to report using drugs to alleviate emotional pain, whereas boys and men are more likely to cite hedonistic reasons.’
Following publication of the report this month, Agenda and SCYJ are calling for improved community support for vulnerable women and girls to reduce the risk of offending. Agenda chief executive Jessica Southgate said:
“The vast majority of young women in contact with the criminal justice system have experienced significant trauma and disadvantage. This can be a key driver for their offending, whether that is being coerced into crime by a partner, sexually exploited or using drugs or alcohol to cope with what they have experienced.
In spite of that, when they then come into contact with the criminal justice system, too often the response does more harm than good or is retraumatising, such as the use of force, restraint or isolation.”
SCJY director Pippa Goodfellow also stated that:
“Girls and young women who have contact with the criminal justice system are too often ignored, misunderstood and misrepresented. A minority within a minority, little is understood about their experiences.
This is a critical time in girls and young women’s lives, but often the transition between youth and adult systems feels like a cliff edge when services change or support falls away completely.
We need a much clearer picture of what is going on at this point – better research and data gathering on girls and young women’s experiences – to inform better systems, services and support across all stages the criminal justice system. Putting gender high up on the policy agenda is long overdue.”
DFE remote education guidance for school and college leaders
The DFE have brought together all their published guidance and support on remote education to a single source point The guidance includes the department’s updated expectations for remote education during this current period of restricted attendance.
They have also included a framework to help providers in England identify strengths and areas for improvement in their remote education provision.
Dedicated school leadership support is also available which includes support for planning and delivering remote education. The support is tailored to the individual needs of each school to help overcome the challenges faced or exacerbated as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
In addition, the DFE have also produced a guide for parents on what remote education should look like and a template to share this information on your parent hub. The DFE are asking that schools publish this information on their websites by 25 January 2021, however using the DFE template to do so is not mandatory.
Guidance and new best practice examples to support teachers in delivering remote learning can be found at https://get-help-with-remote-education.education.gov.uk/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdeliveryand the following can also be accessed:
- peer support from the Demonstrator Network, who are on hand to offer bespoke advice and training, including ways digital platforms and devices can be used to support remote education arrangements. An online library of tools, tutorials and guidance is also available;
- download example lesson plans, annotated with tips and ideas that schools have found useful when teaching remotely;
- access support for teachers, leaders and SENCOs on ways assistive technology can be used to secure inclusive remote education arrangements through National Star’s SEND hub;
- practical CPD on delivering remote education and best practice examples at the virtual conference, BettFest taking place on 20-22 January.
Police cautions for rape given to sexual offenders in Yorkshire
A series of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests sent to the four police forces in Yorkshire have revealed that rapists and serious sexual offenders have been let off with police cautions. Charities supporting rape victims have demanded answers after the FOI data showed more than eighty instances where people who had admitted guilt in sexual offence investigations have been let off with a warning.
A police caution- now known as a 'simple caution' - is given when a person has admitted to a crime, but are usually only administered for minor offences such as vandalism. Police officers may also give out conditional cautions which requires the offender to seek treatment or pay for any damage.
The released FOI figures revealed that:
- North Yorkshire Police issued three simple cautions in 2015, 2017 and 2018, for rape;
- West Yorkshire Police issued one youth caution in 2016 for a rape offence and between 2015 and 2020, the force also recorded nine rape offences where prosecution was deemed "not in public interest".
- South Yorkshire Police issued fifty-seven simple cautions, twelve youth cautions and two conditional cautions for serious sexual offences, which included rape, attempted rape and sexual assault, between 2009 and 2017. Since changing its crime recording database in 2017, between then and 2019 the force issued four adult cautions, three youth cautions and one conditional youth caution for sexual offences.
Sexual violence in Yorkshire and the Humber region, 3.02 offences per 1,000 people, is currently higher than the average figure for the rest of England, 2.54 per 1,000 people.
In response to the released data, Katie Russell, founder of Leeds-based sexual assault victims' service SARSVL and spokesperson for Rape Crisis England & Wales, called for a review of how cautions were used stating that: "It is hard to imagine any scenario where a caution is an appropriate outcome for a crime as serious as a sexual offence, and it's deeply concerning that there should be any cautions for rape."
Survive, a York-based charity which supports rape and sexual assault victims, stated that cautions for rape were "a symptom of a much bigger problem", namely a justice system which was "stacked against survivors" and "deterred them from assisting in prosecutions". The charity's Chief Executive Officer, Mags Godderidge, said:
"We need a complete overhaul of how we manage rape and sexual assault prosecutions through the police investigation and courts so that survivors can feel safe, secure, and supported as well as the courts having access to the best evidence so that justice is served."
Commenting on the data, a spokesperson from South Yorkshire Police stated:
“I can reassure the public that cautions for a serious sexual offence are only issued in very exceptional circumstances and after consultation with the appropriate authorities. A further safeguard is that any caution has to be authorised by senior officers with specialist knowledge and experience in the protection of vulnerable people."
adding that decisions were made on a case by case basis in line with Ministry of Justice guidance, which includes the victim's personal wishes, the age and mental capacity of the suspect and seriousness of the offence being taken into account when deciding on an outcome.
Detective Chief Inspector of West Yorkshire Police, Wayne Horner, said:
“In a very few cases, particularly where young people are involved, it can be the case that a conditional caution with carefully constructed conditions can be the most suitable way to ensure the victim and public are protected, and to manage the offending behaviour”
adding that each case is reviewed by a senior officer of Superintendent rank prior to submission to CPS, and then reviewed subsequently by a specialist CPS lawyer. He also stated that decisions not to charge based on prosecution being ‘not in the public interest’ were made by the CPS and were incredibly rare.
A Home Office spokesperson stated:
“We will continue to work with the police to look at ways to improve their role in the investigation and prosecution of rape, and to ensure that best practice is implemented in every police force area.”