Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 25th April 2019

Sam Preston 25 April 2019 6 min read

Welcome back! We hope you all enjoyed the Easter break, a great opportunity to recharge the batteries with the added bonus of such fabulous weather. Its been an exciting time here at SSS Learning with the launch of our new courses to support your ongoing CPD programme. Our new courses include:

If you are a suite customer you will have full free access to these courses from your administration dashboard. Non-suite customers can purchase through the above website links.

Also, as you may be aware, new laws introduced under the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 came into force this month so we’ve updated our Prevent Duty course to include the latest changes. The key highlights introduced are:

  • Increases in maximum sentences for terrorism offences;
  • Obtaining or viewing terrorist material over the internet is now an offence;
  • It is now illegal to recklessly express support for or publish images of flags, emblems or clothing in a way that suggests membership or support of a proscribed organisation. (The Home Secretary may proscribe an organisation if they believe it is concerned in terrorism, and it is proportionate to do. This means that the organisation commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes or encourages terrorism (including the unlawful glorification of terrorism) or is otherwise concerned in terrorism);
  • Entering or remaining in a designated area is now an offence. (The Act gives the Home Secretary the power to designate an area outside the UK to restrict UK nationals and residents from entering or remaining in that area. This power is subject to parliamentary approval);
  • Greater powers to enter & search the homes of convicted terrorists.

Click here to see the full list

In the news…

Serious Crime

In contradiction with the recent statement made in the House of Lords (previously reported in our newsletter), former Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has warned a committee of MPs that excluding children from school places them in “great danger of being drawn into crime".

Sir Michael Wilshaw, part of a panel of witnesses who gave evidence to MPs, reflected on his own experience as a Head Teacher highlighting that better resources were needed for schools to support earlier intervention and reduce the number of exclusions. Giving evidence he stated that many children excluded from school have "difficult, often dysfunctional, chaotic homes" and spoke of the impact of exclusion saying it was a painful decision to make as it “sent negative messages to that youngster and their family about themselves". Wilshaw was also stated that children may carry knives “for all sorts of different reasons including self-defence” and said that “if they had behaved well in school and had a pretty good record, there's no reason why they should be excluded." He also cautioned that many exclusions involve children with special educational needs and known difficulties, suggesting that Local Authorities should be able to track them through the key stages to make sure they “don't fall through the net."

The evidence session was convened to explore a possible link between the rise in exclusions and increase in knife crime. To date, this year there have been 41 fatal stabbings in England and Wales, 10 of whom were aged under the age of 20. Ministry of Justice statistics for 2018 show that 21% of students who committed a knife possession offence were excluded from school.

Scotland's approach to tackling knife crime over the past decade has seen a cultural shift away from school exclusion. Will Linden, deputy director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit (who also gave evidence), highlighted the need to consider the "unintended consequences" of taking a young person off-roll as essential. In Glasgow there was only one permanent exclusion last year.

Reflecting on the witness evidence, our Safeguarding Director Sam Preston, commented “Clearly schools have to focus on risk management and often face the difficult safeguarding choice between protecting pupils and excluding children that might then face a more detrimental situation. Given the upward trajectory we have seen in all forms of youth serious violence in England and Wales we must develop a multi-faceted approach that acknowledges the dilemmas schools face over exclusion. Legislators need to think contextually, by really questioning the effectiveness of current early intervention processes, the methods used to prevent escalation into serious crime, together with how we enable young people to move out of such behaviours. Simply doing what we’ve always done or adding more of the same resources will not facilitate change.”

Council fined for GDPR breach

Newham Council has been fined by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for sharing sensitive personal details about alleged gang members. The council was fined £145,000 after a Youth Offending Team manager forwarded an unredacted version of the Metropolitan Police “gangs matrix” database to council departments, Children's and Education Services, the National Probation Service, the charity Fight for Peace and the Department for Work and Pensions. The unredacted database contained personal details including names, nicknames and addresses of over two hundred people. A photograph of a page from the unredacted database, which revealed the personal details of fifty people, later emerged on Snapchat. The incident was of particular concern to the ICO as the information was obtained by rival gang members and, following the breach, there was a series of serious gang violence which included victims named on the breached list. This included one named teenager who was shot and killed. Whilst the ICO report does not draw a direct link between the data breach and the violence it states that the incidents "are highly relevant to the nature and extent of the harm that could result if personal data of the type contained in the redacted database was not processed under strict controls". The report is also critical of the council investigation into the breach, as no investigation report was produced and the investigation had failed to establish what had been done with the unredacted database.

In a statement, Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz apologised personally to the mother of the teenager who was killed following the data breach and stated "On behalf of Newham Council I accept the seriousness of the unredacted gangs matrix list being distributed on this single occasion in January 2017 and am sorry that it happened. While there were information sharing protocols in place at the time, clearly they could have been better. The council is committed to working with our trusted multi-agency partners to make Newham a child-centred borough where young people can feel safe and protected.”

The incident serves as a stark reminder to us all to ensure our staff remain GDPR aware and compliant with our information sharing policy and protocols.

Pupil mental health

A survey carried out by the National Education Union (NEU) has found that children as young as nine are talking about suicide. The poll of more than 8,670 school leaders, teachers and support staff reports an increase in pupil mental health difficulties which include anxiety, self-harming and talking about suicide. The survey cites increasing child poverty, “over-testing" and insufficient resources for supporting vulnerable pupils as impacting on pupils’ mental health and wellbeing. The survey shows that 64% of those polled also cited that the strain on external support services such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS), specialist SEND assessments and educational psychologist support as adding to support difficulties.

NEU joint general secretary, Kevin Courtney, said government policies on education and funding were contributing to a "growing crisis" for mental health. He also said "Teachers are also witnessing an increase in child poverty and its terrible effects, which can all too often impact negatively on mental health."

The Department for Education has described children's mental health as a "key priority" for HM Government. "We are investing more in mental health support - with an additional £2.3bn a year being spent by 2023/24. This means that by 2023/24 an extra 345,000 children and young people up the age of 25 will benefit from a range of services, including new support teams that will provide additional trained staff to work directly with schools and colleges."

Ex-pupils raise £5000 to support banned teacher

A fundraising page has been set up by former pupils of St Columba’s College, St Albans to assist with the legal fees of former Assistant Deputy Headmaster, Dr Stephen Jones, who was banned for life from teaching for inappropriate relationships with three male pupils.

Dr Jones, who taught religious education and became Assistant Deputy Headmaster at the college, was dismissed without paid notice for gross misconduct in 2015 and barred from the profession by a Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) panel in April this year. The complaints centred around concerns that Dr Jones had crossed professional boundaries in his interactions with the pupils.

Following consideration of the evidence presented the finding of the TRA report states “Dr Stephen Jones is prohibited from teaching indefinitely and cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England. Furthermore, in view of the seriousness of the allegations found proved against him, I have decided that Dr Stephen Jones shall not be entitled to apply for restoration of his eligibility to teach.”

Dr Jones has a right of appeal to the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court within 28 days from the date he is given notice of the order.

The fundraising page, which seeks to collect up to £10,000 to assist with Jones’ legal fees, has been set up by a group of students (anonymous) he formerly taught. The page, which currently has £5000 funds pledged, describes the barred teacher as an “amazing” man who “helped students find work after leaving the school, counselled students, assisted families in need, took students on amazing trips and retreats, and was always there for anyone who needed help”.

A statement released by the barrister representing the parents of one of the three pupils (the subject in the case known as “Pupil A”) said: “The parents of Pupil A are not alone. Other parents also gave compelling evidence of Dr Jones' insidious hold on their children. He repeatedly took impressionable boys on unauthorised school trips without their parent’s consent or knowledge. He showered them with gifts and stayed with them in hotels. He controlled their thoughts and behaviour. Dr Jones continues to be a menace to every child. That is why he was banned from teaching for life by the Secretary of State.”

Head Teacher barred over safeguarding deficiencies

Peter Smalley, former Head Teacher of Southglade Primary School in Nottingham, has been barred from teaching for at least five years. A professional conduct panel of the Teaching Regulation Agency found that Smalley did not provide staff with regular or effective safeguarding and child protection training, and did not have an adequate system in place to identify and record safeguarding and child protection issues. The deficiencies in safeguarding at the school contributed to a pupil not being identified as high risk early enough. The seven-year-old pupil (known as Pupil X) died away from school premises.

The panel heard that Smalley collaborated with another staff member to prepare a referral form for the pupil in September 2014 for an incident which happened in July that year. The referral was inaccurate and not approved by the teacher who wrote the original form, which was also missing.

Smalley admitted all the counts against him except that he had acted dishonestly in preparing the substitute referral form. The panel accepted this and cleared him of dishonesty however it held that the other matters amounted to unacceptable professional conduct that may bring the professional into disrepute.

Smalley, who implemented a safeguarding system led by a newly appointed learning mentor, was found to have instigated a system where there was a lack of feedback to concerns raised and from which staff members disengaged due to perceived and actual lack of support. The findings concluded: “If it had not been for those extensive systemic failures in Mr Smalley's management of safeguarding issues the chance to intervene in Pupil X's case would have been greatly increased. Pupil X would have been identified as high risk at a much earlier stage.”

The panel took into account Smalley’s good record as a teacher and his admission to the counts against him, recommending that he be allowed to apply for reinstatement as a teacher after a five-year period.

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Here are the relevant online courses we provide that relate to this article:

Find out about our Safeguarding Suite.

Sam Preston

SSS Learning Safeguarding Director

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