Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 13th March 2020

Welcome to our Safeguarding e-Bulletin, keeping you up-to-date with all safeguarding news, information and updates. Between publications you can also get in the moment updates on safeguarding news by following us on Twitter @SSSlearning and my commentary on @Sam_SSSLearning

School Closure Contingency Planning COVID-19

As the UK has now progressed from the Containment Phase of COVID-19 to the Delay Phase, from yesterday’s HM Government briefing we now know that closure of all educational settings at some point looks highly likely.

We would like to reassure all existing and prospective SSS Learning customers that contingency plans are in place to ensure our service remains fully operational in any isolation phase. We already have some staff working remotely as a precaution.

If you are currently devising your contingency planning due to COVID-19 closure, we can confirm that staff undertaking our training from home settings will have full remote access to our online CPD accredited Safeguarding Training Service via any PC, Mac, Smartphone or tablet. Should they need any help or assistance, staff can directly contact our support team who will be available via Livechat and email until 10pm 7 days a week.

The Department for Education has launched a new helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows: 

Phone: 0800 046 8687 
Email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk 
8am to 6pm (Monday-Friday)

Revised KCSIE 2020 & changes to DSL roles

As you may be aware, the DFE has launched a consultation on the proposed changes to Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) which will come into effect from September 2020. 

The aim of this latest proposed revision is to clarify many areas of the existing legislation in order to help schools and colleges to better understand what they are required to do by law and what the DfE strongly advise should be done to meet safeguarding responsibilities.

In addition, the DfE is also consulting on proposed changes to the role of Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) to ensure staff in such roles have a greater focus on improving the academic achievement of children on the edge of care, as part of their existing safeguarding duties.

Launched in response to the recommendations of the Review of Children in Need, the proposals aim to specifically help those children experiencing challenges outside of educational settings, which may contribute to poor attendance, poor behaviour and disengagement in lessons. Specifically, this focuses on sharing information about how children’s circumstances are impacting on their education and supporting school staff to find effective ways of teaching these children and maintaining a culture of high aspiration for them.

The proposed changes aim to help the 1.6 million children who have needed help and protection from a social worker at some point in the last 6 years. (On average, three children in every classroom need a social worker). Children who have needed help and protection from social care services often miss out on education, are 3 times more likely to be persistently absent from school, are 50% less likely to achieve a strong pass in English and maths GCSEs and on average are 2 to 4 times more likely to be excluded than their peers.

Rest assured, specialists on our team are participating in both consultations, scrutinising the practice implications and will closely monitor the pathway of the proposals. All our safeguarding courses will be fully updated to meet the new requirements in plenty of time for September commencement, so you can start the academic year with confidence.

Mandatory Fire Safety Requirements

By law all staff working in educational settings must complete fire safety awareness training. 

To help you meet this requirement we are delighted to announce that our new Fire Safety Awareness e-learning course is now live. This course designed for all staff and volunteers in schools, academies and educational settings, ensuring compliance with the training requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Supplied to all suite customers at no additional cost, the training is also available for non-suite customers to purchase.

In addition, we have also launched our Fire Warden e-learning course to fully equip staff undertaking this specialist role.

These informative courses have been co authored with David Parker, former Assistant Divisional Officer in the South Wales Fire Service and one of the UK’s leading Fire Safety specialists who has many years direct experience within educational settings. David is a Graduate Member of the Institute of Fire Engineers and works across the globe as an independent Fire Consultant. 

With stunning 3D animation (check out some previews on our twitter feed) both courses offer great training solutions and peace of mind that practice will be secure in a fire emergency.

Half of children flagged at risk of abuse or neglect died

The first report published by The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel has found that the number of children who died or were seriously injured due to abuse is ‘significant and troubling’ 

The report, published by the independent body set up to identify, commission and oversee reviews of serious child safeguarding cases, reveals that up to half the children flagged to social services as at risk of child abuse or neglect died in the past 21 months.

The report reveals that 289 of the 538 cases of child abuse and neglect notified to the newly-established safeguarding panel between July 2018 and December 2019 were known to social services. A similar proportion had already been identified as “vulnerable” but despite this “the system was not able to prevent” the children’s death or their involvement in a “serious incident.”  The report found that of those children notified to the panel:

  • 244 (45%) were children who later died through being killed by parents or their partners or after becoming involved in crime gangs;
  • 144 (27%) involved the death or serious harm of a child under one-year-old due to non-accidental injury;

In addition, in the cases of some 220 (45%) children, weak risk assessment and poor decision making was identified as a major practice theme.

The panel, which provides a multi-agency view on cases raising complex issues or that are of national importance, is currently undertaking thematic reviews into the deaths of infants which will be published later this year.

Free train travel for women fleeing domestic abuse

Women fleeing an abusive relationship are to be given free train travel under the “Rail to Refuge” scheme. Following the sign up of Southeastern and Great Western Railway, victims across the south of England, South Wales and the West Midlands are the first to benefit from the new initiative.

The scheme, the idea of Southeastern station manager Darren O’Brien, aims to reassure and empower women to put distance between them and their abusers. O’Brien stated that even though the initiative is “only a small thing”, it could “make an enormous difference” to women in dire circumstances.

Commenting on the new initiative, acting co-chief executive of Women’s Aid Adina Claire said: “Access to cash is a major barrier for women escaping an abusive partner, and free train travel will be one less thing for these women to worry about at a time of acute crisis.”

A director at GWR, Joe Graham, said: “The railway is much more than trains and rail track; it is about supporting the communities that it serves.”

Abuse victims can contact the charity Women’s Aid, or a domestic abuse helpline or local outreach service, and if necessary, a refuge space will be found and the train ticket obtained on the woman’s behalf.

Hopefully more transport links will join the initiative and that the scheme can be expanded to support men also affected by domestic abuse. 

Football clubs settle sexual-abuse claims

Aston Villa FC and Leicester City FC have settled a civil case for compensation weeks before it was due to be heard in the High Court, paying damages to five victims of a football scout previously convicted of child sex abuse. The amounts involved have not been disclosed. Both clubs stated that the claims, settled by their respective insurers, were on terms “acceptable to all parties” and without admissions of liability.

The scout, Ted Langford who died in 2012, worked as a part-time football scout in the Midlands in the 1970s and 1980s, identifying promising players for both Aston Villa FC and Leicester City FC. He was jailed in 2007 for the sexual abuse of four other young boys between 1976 and 1989. The Football Association later set up an independent inquiry into historical sexual abuse across the sport, which is continuing.

Leicester City FC said in a statement it wished to express “its deepest sympathies with all victims of abuse and its admiration for those survivors who, in coming forward, have helped to reinforce the game’s modern safeguarding standards”.

It added: “All reports of abuse made to the club, non-recent or otherwise, are treated seriously, investigated thoroughly and pursued to an appropriate conclusion that is satisfactory to all associated parties”.

Aston Villa FC said in a statement it “wishes to express its deepest sympathies with all those who have suffered abuse, and is appalled by any form of historic abuse. Safeguarding standards are of paramount importance to the club and any reports of abuse made to the club, both historic or current, will be investigated vigorously and reported to the appropriate authorities”.

Footballer sacked following sexual activity charge

Tyrell Robinson, the previously suspended 22-year-old Bradford City winger has been sacked by the football club after being charged with engaging in sexual activity with a child.

Robinson was initially arrested in 2018 following allegations of sexual assault. In a statement last week, West Yorkshire Police stated that Robinson had been charged with engaging in penetrative sexual activity with a child, relating to an offence alleged to have occurred in Bradford in August 2018.

Robinson has also been charged with 1 count of making an indecent image of a child and 2 counts of distributing an indecent image of a child. 

A statement issued by the club stated that: “Bradford City Football Club has parted company with Tyrell Robinson. This comes after West Yorkshire Police confirmed charges had been brought against Robinson, following his arrest in August 2018. Robinson has been dismissed from the remainder of his contract on grounds of committing gross misconduct. The club will be making no further comment on the matter.”

Robinson is summoned to appear before Bradford magistrates on 7 April 2020.

Pupils ‘reluctant to receive peer mentoring’ on mental health issues

An evaluation of the Peer Support for Mental Health and Wellbeing Pilots, which have been running since 2018 in 100 schools and colleges across East Sussex, Ipswich, Derby, Oldham, West Midlands and Bradford, has found that while the programme was met with “considerable enthusiasm” from young people interested in the peer mentor roles, there was less interest in actually receiving help.

The report evaluating the DfE pilots found that whilst many young people experience stress, anxiety, or mental health problems they are reluctant to receive support from their peers.

The report also found that whilst there was a “considerable appetite” for the initiative among the participating educational settings, many reported that they were limited in what they could offer to young people below the threshold for clinical intervention.

Survey research conducted as part of the evaluation found that non-participants wanted greater reassurances about privacy and confidentiality, clearer signposting, and discretion to be able to choose their peer mentor.

New bursaries to boost child counsellor in school numbers

Place2Be, the children’s mental health charity, has launched new training bursaries to boost the number of counsellors working in schools. Funded by a grant from the Wolfson Foundation, the charity is offering 25 means-tested training bursaries for successful applicants on its child-counselling courses, including a postgraduate diploma in counselling children in schools.

Latest figures from Place2Be show that one in three children in every class now has a diagnosable mental health problem. A survey published by the charity and education union NAHT earlier this year found that the number of schools commissioning professional help for children’s mental health issues rose from 36% in 2016 to 66% last year. 

Bursaries will also be available for people with places on the charity’s Level 3 certificate in counselling skills for working with children and the Level 2 award in counselling skills for working with children. (Fees for the postgraduate diploma are £6,000 over two years while certificate and award courses cost between £1,795 and £785 depending on the level of study).

Applicants can register interest about the bursaries prior to their launch now.

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