Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 2nd May 2019

Sam Preston 2 May 2019 3 min read

New PSHE education framework gets Upper House approval

Following a long debate, the House of Lords has given its backing to the new Health Education and Relationships Education (primary) and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) aspects of PSHE education (secondary) which will be compulsory in all schools from 2020. Whilst the upper chamber gave approval to new government guidance a month after the proposed framework passed through the House of Commons, the debate has raised key issues around the complexity of implementing the new requirements. Read our Safeguarding Director Sam Preston's blog on the contentions and implications for practice.

Proposed new powers for monitoring school exclusions

Last week we reported former head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw's views on exclusion. This week the Chair of the Parliamentary Education Committee, Robert Halfon (MP for Harlow), is urging HM Government to give Local Authorities extra powers to scrutinise school exclusions.

In a letter written to Education Secretary Damian Hinds, Halfon says this action is needed to help tackle knife crime and help promote early support to keep young people in mainstream education and deter them from knife crime. In line with the former Ofsted chief, Halfon highlights a "clear correlation between exclusions and knife crime", citing young people not in mainstream education being at greater risk of becoming involved in gangs and other criminal activity. The new powers would help Local Authorities track disadvantaged young people with special needs as they pass through the education system.

Halfon has called for improved guidance to assist teachers supporting children at risk of exclusion and becoming involved in crime, together with improvements to the quality of alternative provision. Although the Department for Education has allocated £4m through the alternative provision innovation fund to improve standards, Halfon stated "we (the committee) are concerned that the department is not moving urgently enough to improve the quality of alternative provision. In a number of Local Authority areas in England, no state-maintained alternative provision place has been rated good or outstanding."

The Education Committee has previously raised concerns about the quality of alternative provision and schools approaches to tackling knife crime in its July 2018 report Forgotten Children: Alternative Provision and the Scandal of Ever-increasing Exclusions. A government review on school exclusions is currently in process and is due to report findings later this year.

Girls' gang involvement overlooked and failed by authorities

That's the view of Children's Commissioner Anne Longfield who is to write to HM Government and Local Authorities, to call for a review into support provision for female gang members who, she states, are "not getting the help they need". In a recent BBC interview on the Victoria Derbyshire programme, the Commissioner stated that half of children involved with gangs are girls and they "desperately need help to get out. So many are trapped with nowhere to go". According to London's Deputy Mayor for Policing, Sophie Linden, girls' gang involvement often remains under the radar. They are often used to carry knives or drugs because they are less likely to be stopped by police. Girls are also sexually exploited by senior gang members.

In response the Local Government Association said "limited funding" meant Local Authorities have to prioritise those at immediate risk. "Councils are being forced to divert the limited funding they have left away from preventative work, including young offenders teams and youth work, into services to protect children who are at immediate risk of harm."

Two-thirds of children in England assessed by Local Authorities as being involved in gangs are boys (66%) and one third girls (34%), figures analysed by the children's commissioner's office suggest. However, estimates from the Office for National Statistics suggest a higher figure - that as many as half may be girls. The Metropolitan Police Service's gangs matrix database lists 3,000 male gang members known to the authorities in London with just 18 female gang members known.

Ofsted grades to be retained

HM Government released a report yesterday setting out the arguments and evidence for keeping Ofsted's existing 4-point grading system in the proposed new inspection framework.

Rise in alcohol and drug exclusions

A study compiled by the drugs policy think tank Volteface and drugs education charity Mentor has revealed that drug and alcohol-related exclusions in secondary schools have increased by 57% in the past five years. A far higher rate than any other reason for exclusion, the figures coincide with increased conviction rates among teenagers for involvement in selling class A drugs. The study, revealed exclusively to Sky News, warns that the increasing rate of exclusions has put Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) under "significant strain".

Modern slavery

This week the Home Office has released an updated version of Victims of modern slavery- Competent Authority guidance.

Whilst this guidance is designed for staff in the Single Competent Authority to help them decide if a person is a victim of modern slavery, the document contains really interesting content which might be useful for you to use as a staff resource.

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Sam Preston

SSS Learning Safeguarding Director

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