May E-bulletin

Sam Preston 2 May 2023 8 min read

Welcome to our May ebulletin. It's been a busy start to the year as safeguarding amendments have trickled out from HM Government office. No doubt they will all be encapsulated in the KCSIE revisions, however wherever possible we have already incorporated changes into our current courses.

Some changes, for example response to the independent enquiry on the Prevent programme, are a work in progress for Government Office, but rest assured we are tracking this and whenever new requirements or documentation are issued we are and will make the necessary changes to our courses.

As said, it's been a busy start to the year and the team have been working hard to develop our latest course: Misogyny and INCEL subculture. Misogyny has been developing as a safeguarding theme, mainly due to the online influencers perpetuating hateful rhetoric and targeting young audiences. In response to this we have developed our informative course together with a series of case studies which you may wish to use as INSET resources. We are now in the final quality control review stage and the course will be released on the 9th May 2023.

I am also delighted to announce a new resource, our INSET CPD modules, which will be available as part of our safeguarding suite. These short modules are based on a variety of safeguarding themes and designed as a whole school or group resource. Whilst each module provides a particular subject overview, they are designed as discussion tools with prompts to enable group exploration of everyday practice. This will enable all staff to discuss and review each topic area and reflect on the arrangements in place bespoke to your setting. You will be able to register all attendees and record CPD credits to each individual account. All the modules will be available from September, enabling you to plan use for the academic year ahead.

We are also planning a similar resource of CPD modules for governance, more on that in the next ebulletin.

As you will read in the 'in the news section' below, the DFE have published new guidance detailing the digital standards for schools and colleges. This document outlines the filtering and monitoring standards which government office deem should be already in place. In my view, these standards significantly raise the bar in terms of the strategic and day-to-day management of this area; a view confirmed by our external expert consultant CEO of Azure RD, Daniel Preston. We will shortly be releasing details of our interview with Daniel to help you gain an understanding of what is expected.

Finally I would like to reassure you that we will be providing our usual updates re KCSIE and, as there will be a revised version, a new course on the multi-agency expectations of Working together to safeguard children.

Kindest regards


Safeguarding Inspections- Ofsted to consider changes

This month Ofsted Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, published a statement revealing that the inspectorate is reviewing its inspection process and will make changes to inspections.

Acknowledging the 'strength of feeling' in the Education sector following the tragic death of headteacher Ruth Perry, Ms Spielman confirmed that Ofsted is 'making changes'. Ruth Perry took her own life while waiting for an inadequate inspection report to be published.

In response to Ruth Perry's family having highlighted the distress caused by the level of confidentiality that Ruth was instructed to maintain around her school's inadequate grade, Ms Spielman also stated that 'headteachers and responsible bodies can share (provisional grades) with others in confidence'.

Whilst stating that Ofsted's current inspection process had received 'good feedback from the vast majority', the Ofsted chief disclosed some of the changes under consideration.

This includes exploring ways for inspectors to 'return more quickly to schools who have work to do on safeguarding but are otherwise performing well' to 'enable [them] to see fast improvements and reflect them in [their] judgements'. She also stated that Ofsted will host seminars for headteachers of outstanding schools who have not been inspected in some time to guide them through the process, and to provide additional clarity about the broad timing of their next visit.

Since the death of Ruth Perry, the debate across the education sector about the validity of limiting judgements and one-word grading has escalated. Ms Spielman stated that whilst she recognised that 'distilling all that a school is and does into a single word makes some in the sector uncomfortable', her view is that the current way of awarding grades 'plays an integral part in the wider school system' which 'many parents' find useful. She also stated that the inspectorate 'won't go soft on safeguarding' and defended the current practice of grading a school as inadequate when safeguarding is 'poor' when good judgements are made in all other categories.

Working Together to Safeguard Children

This spring HM Government will open a new consultation on Working Together to Safeguard Children, the statutory guidance which sets out multi-agency working, as a key part of the planned children's social care reforms. The social care reforms are structured by 6 key pillars, and this consultation is to inform part of pillar 2- the development of a decisive multi-agency child protection system.

The aim is to strengthen multi-agency safeguarding arrangements through clearer roles and accountabilities for all safeguarding partners with the intention of increasing transparency and accountability and providing greater support and learning. It is proposed that education settings will have a greater role in local multi-agency leadership by making them the fourth safeguarding partner, alongside local authorities, social care and the police. (There will be a separate consultation regarding this in Autumn 2023).

The consultation will seek views on:

  • The minimum expectations of partners, their role and function at a strategic level;
  • The introduction of a new separate operational group focussing on making sure that strategic priorities are realised in practice. Their planned role will involve oversight of the overarching strategy efficacy;
  • A new role of operational chair who will have operational oversight of safeguarding arrangements and who will provide direction for strategic leaders. This is a nominated post which should be agreed by all safeguarding partners;
  • Increased transparency for all partners which will include publication of strategic plans and annual reports;
  • New multi-agency Child Protection Standards which will set the principles of how partners work together to identify and protect children and young people;
  • How the role of education settings will be strengthened within multi-agency strategic and operational levels.

Funding will be made available to implement and embed the new reforms after the 2023 update to Working Together, in the first instance to the nominated pathfinder areas.

We will notify you when the consultation opens and rest assured we will be providing a new course when the finalised Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance is published.

New Online Safety Filtering and Monitoring Standards & Responsibilities for DSLs

On the 29th March, the Department for Education updated the guidance Meeting digital and Technology standards in schools and colleges, introducing new filtering and monitoring standards to help improve online safety.

The guidance details the standards all schools and colleges should meet on filtering and monitoring which includes:

  • Identifying and assigning roles and responsibilities for the management of filtering and monitoring systems. As the day to day management of filtering and monitoring systems requires the specialist knowledge of both safeguarding and IT staff to be effective, DSLs should work closely together with IT service providers to meet the needs of your setting. This may require asking your filtering or monitoring provider for system specific training and support. The guidance states that DSLs should take lead responsibility for safeguarding and online safety, which could include overseeing and acting on:
    • filtering and monitoring reports
    • safeguarding concerns
    • checks filtering and monitoring systems
  • Reviewing filtering and monitoring provision including reviewing the efficiency across devices, which should be conducted at least annually;
  • Blocking harmful content without unreasonably impacting on teaching and learning;
  • Effective monitoring strategies to meet safeguarding needs.

The new 'foot soldiers' of county lines.

An Open University Policing blog article has published analysis of recent research, revealing that young women and girls are beginning to replace young males as the 'foot soldiers' of county lines operations.

The blog, When girls 'Go Country': Criminal exploitation of younger women and girls highlights that, whilst previously county lines activity has focused on the criminal exploitation of boys and young men, the 'relative 'invisibility' of girls and young women make them ideal targets for drug dealing gangs, allowing them to 'travel largely unnoticed on rail networks across the country.'

As the blog states, researchers now 'compare the grooming of young girls into county lines drug dealing, and the strategies subsequently used to maintain control over them, as akin to coercive control' as dealers exert power over the young women and girls through fear and control.

Much of the county lines focus and intervention programmes have focussed on the exploitation of boys and young men, not girls and young women. It is therefore important that, in our safeguarding roles, we are more aware of the serious risks county lines involvement presents to young women and girls.

Understanding mental health in early years

A new toolkit resource has been developed by the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) and the University of Cambridge's Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL) to help nurture positive mental wellbeing among infants and young children.

The toolkit provides practical advice and frameworks to develop a whole-system approach to supporting the mental health of babies and young children. It has been designed as a multi-agency tool to develop a shared understanding, language and approach to supporting the mental health of infants and young children which, according to Sally Hogg, senior policy fellow at PEDAL 'is vital for effective action.'

The toolkit incorporates a framework describing mental health at this life stage, a socio-ecological model, and a vision for a whole-system approach to mental health in infants and young children.

The sale of zombie knives and machetes to children

Criminals who sell weapons including “zombie” knives and machetes to children could face harsher punishments under new plans put forward by the Home Office.

The Home Office has launched a consultation on banning machetes and other bladed weapons, such as 'zombie' knives, designed to look menacing and with no practical use.

The seven-week consultation is also seeking views on increasing the maximum penalty for selling bladed articles to under 18s from six months to two years. This tariff would also apply to the offences of importation, manufacture, sale and supply of prohibited offensive weapons if the proposed legislation is passed.

These weapons are often used by gangs and criminals to intimidate and inflict serious harm and have no legitimate purpose.

The consultation also considers:

  • Extending police powers to enable them to seize, retain and destroy bladed articles, or bladed articles of certain length, held in private, even if the items themselves are not prohibited;
  • Whether the criminal justice system should treat more seriously the offence of possession in public of knives and offensive weapons which have been specifically prohibited by legislation;
  • If the government should create a separate possession offence against those carrying bladed articles with the intention to injure or cause fear of violence.

The Home Office have stated that 'the public consultation will carefully define which machetes and large knives will be banned, inviting views to ensure proposals are targeted and balanced in order to keep our streets safe.'

The consultation closes on 6 June.

Mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse

This month the Home Secretary is to launch a public consultation over the introduction of a mandatory requirement to report child sexual abuse concerns for adults working with young people.

Following the recommendations of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Home Secretary, Suella Braverman has announced her commitment to the introduction of mandatory reporting.

In her statement Ms Braverman said 'The protection of children is a collective effort. Every adult must be supported to call out child sexual abuse without fear. That's why I'm introducing a mandatory reporting duty and launching a call for evidence. We must address the failures identified by the Inquiry and take on board the views of the thousands of victims and survivors who contributed to its findings.'

Whilst full details of the consultation are yet to be announced, it is proposed that the UK Government and Welsh Government introduce legislation to place identified individuals under a statutory duty to report child sexual abuse when they have received a disclosure or which they have witnessed themselves.

Those who fail to report sexual abuse to either children's social care services or the police 'as soon as is reasonably practicable' would have committed a criminal offence if the recommendation is implemented in full.

The Ask for ANI scheme postcode checker

Ask for ANI (Action Needed Immediately) is a codeword scheme that provides a safe, discreet and confidential way for victims of domestic abuse to access immediate help from their local pharmacy or jobcentre.

There is now an online postcode checker which can be used to find local pharmacies and jobcentres participating in the scheme. Help is offered at all registered settings by approaching a member of staff and saying 'Can I speak to ANI?' or 'Do you have a safe space available?'. Staff are trained to recognise the codewords and will then offer a safe space where a trained member of staff will offer support and help on next steps.

Sam Preston

SSS Learning Safeguarding Director

Other e-Bulletins

June 2024

May 2024

March 2024

February 2024

December 2023

July 2023

January 2023

December 2022

September 2022

April 2022