Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 4th July 2019

Sam Preston 4 July 2019 5 min read

New KCSIE for 2019 – overview by Sam Preston

It's fair to say there was a collective groan when HM Government announced that a new version of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) would come into effect this year, given the wealth of amendments (51 in total) introduced in last year's revision. However good news, this year the changes are limited (17 in total) the majority of which are minor tweaks.

More good news for SSS Learning schools & academies, as we automatically update all our training and advise you of updates to legislation or criminal offences as they happen, there really is very little for you to do. So, what are the key changes?

Rather than scan the whole draft document, all the changes are detailed in Annex H of the guidance. As you will see, the majority are changes to the order within the document rather than the actual content. There has been some reordering to Part 1 – my recommendation would be to reissue the finalised version to all staff, including Annex A for those working in regulated activity, in September. It's probably been a year since staff have read it so it's a timely refresher.

One big change is of course the arrangements for local safeguarding partnerships. As we have previously informed you, statutory locality safeguarding responsibilities are removed from Local Safeguarding Children's Boards (LSCBs) and transferred to new Tri-partnership arrangements made up of Local Authorities, the Police and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). (See p. 68- 75).

Having had some interim time to develop such arrangements the deadline for having them in place is this September. Educational settings are very likely to be named as 'relevant agencies' and as such will be bound by the statutory multi-agency working practices each partnership develops. So, in essence it is essential to find out and familiarise yourselves with your local safeguarding partnership's directives and policy and disseminate to staff. Also don't forget to change any references to LSCBs in your policies. Just to confuse things, LSCBs do not have to be disbanded but they no longer have the statutory responsibilities.

As the new version is catching up on legislation and criminal offences introduced since last September, it worth reviewing your policy to ensure all the key areas are included. For example, ensure upskirting is defined (see p. 27) and included in the peer-on-peer abuse section with details of how you will respond and manage incidents. You should recognise that this is a criminal offence and may constitute sexual harassment.

Serious violence is not a new topic within KCSIE however, as we have been reporting, this version places a greater emphasis on this area. (p. 29 & 30). Your policy and staff practice should include knowledge of the indicator for concern including county lines, criminal exploitation (formerly referred to as financial exploitation) and contextual safeguarding areas e.g. risks associated with gang membership.

As KCSIE expects policy to direct proactive approaches to safeguarding ensure you reference the latest standards for relationships education, relationships and sex education and health education.

Together with the draft publication of KCSIE 2019, last month the DfE have also published Teaching Online Safety in Schools. Ensure this document is referenced in your safeguarding and all related policies and that staff know where and how to access it.

I'd also remain mindful that we will have the Domestic Abuse Bill shortly and undoubtedly this will impact on your Child Protection & Safeguarding policies.

So that's the key headlines of KCSIE 2019. Remember, it is only in draft form right now and does not come into effect until September. If there are any further key amendments be reassured we will let you know.

Report finds further failings for Bethnal Green Academy pupils

Only sixteen months after four schoolgirls left Bethnal Green Academy (now Green Spring Academy) to join Isis, in 2016 two teenage sisters were removed from the school by their mother and taken abroad to be de-westernised.

Their mother had approached the school a month before they vanished to request term-time leave and was given a form to fill in. But there is no evidence this was completed and staff did not ask where the girls would be taken.

The sisters, who feared becoming victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, were taken to a boarding school in Somaliland where their passports were confiscated.

Allegations that the girls were being abused, made by them via social media, were reported to Waltham Forest council and police but not followed up with urgency. This despite police records recording that another girl in the family had been subject to an FGM and Forced Marriage Protection Order in 2009.

A housing officer had also raised concerns, saying she thought that the children "might have left the country under duress", however no action was taken.

Despite contacting friends via social media detailing allegations of the physical abuse they were suffering at the new school, it was not until they expressed concerns to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in relation to FGM and forced marriage that action was taken. The two sisters were repatriated almost a year later after texting the UK Government's Forced Marriage Unit.

A report by Waltham Forest Council, where the family was housed by Tower Hamlets, found several occasions where "correct processes were not followed" by their UK school and found that the sisters' disappearance could potentially have been discovered earlier. When the sisters disappeared, Tower Hamlets council's welfare adviser, who would have followed up with the family over the school holidays, was not informed of their absences.

Three months after the sisters left, the academy informed their family in the UK that the girls risked being removed from the school roll. Their older sister informed the academy where they were but no return date or address was given. On receipt of this information no follow up visit was made to their home.

It was only when the sisters managed to contact HM Government office themselves that a joint operation between police, Waltham Forest Children's Services and the Foreign Office was undertaken and they were taken into protective custody. Thankfully the sisters had not been subjected to FGM.

The Somaliland school has since been shut and the headmaster charged with child abuse offences.

Restraint and restrictive intervention consultation launched

Last month the DFE and Department of Health and Social Care released guidance on restraint and restrictive intervention for special schools and health and social care settings and it seems further versions are to be produced for mainstream schools.

The current version of the guidance aims to help such organisations "adopt a preventative approach to supporting children and young people whose behaviour challenges as a result of learning disabilities, autistic spectrum conditions or mental health difficulties". This week the DfE launched a consultation to see if similar guidance is needed for mainstream schools, mainstream post-16 settings and alternative provision. It will also seek views on whether "guidance should apply to a wider cohort of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities".

The consultation comes against a backdrop of concerns from some parents of children with SEND about the use of restraint techniques in schools. As reported in our our previous bulletin, last February three families set up a crowd-funding appeal to pay for legal advice on making a legal challenge against the government over what they say are a lack of adequate safeguards on the use of restraint in schools.

The consultation closes at 6pm on 17 October 2019.

Diabetes- a safeguarding risk

The serious case review into the death of diabetic teenager has recommended that public sector workers should be required to consider diabetes in children and young people as a safeguarding risk.

The review of the case of 'child T' (who could not be named for legal reasons) by East Sussex's Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) identified ways in which health workers and schools could improve how they work together to support children with diabetes. The review found that opportunities to provide preventatives services "were too often missed" prior to the hospital death of the 18-year-old in May 2017, from a complication associated with type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is more common in children, around 35,000 children and young people under the age of 19 in the UK have diabetes of which 96 per cent have type 1.

The chair of the review board, Reg Hooke, has written to the departments of health and education asking them to review guidance provided, in particular to schools. Commenting on the review findings, he said: "The report provides a number of recommendations for how GPs, hospitals and schools in East Sussex should improve how they work together to support children with health conditions such as diabetes. These improvements are already being made locally but at a national level there needs to be a review of current practice and policy to ensure the same learning takes place across the country."

The case of 'child T' clearly highlights failings to provide joined up care and failure to recognise and identify risks. The investigation into the teenager's death revealed he had a history of missed appointments and poor school attendance since diagnosis. The review concluded that his school had not considered his health and support needs adequately or properly assessed his needs to consider the wider issues of neglect or safeguarding. His dramatic weight loss, from 23 stone to nine stone did not trigger concerns. His reports of feeling unwell at school, feet and back pain were not shared or explored further.

Hooke sees it as vital that guidance "makes it clear to schools that they have a key role for ensuring safeguarding procedures are used in appropriate cases where good health depends on following medical guidance".

The report was also critical of health professionals stating they should have been more alert to risks when appointments are missed and be more effective in challenging families that do not provide adequate care. On admission to hospital, 'child Ts' physical and emotional state indicated severe neglect which had started during his childhood.

Teachers strike over pupil behaviour

Teachers have gone on strike at Starbank school in Birmingham, school rated outstanding by Ofsted since 2012, where they say students are carrying knives, threatening staff and brawling in classrooms.

Staff at the school, whose pupils range from age three to 16, have been given panic buttons and say they are "scared to come out of their classrooms" between lessons, according to the teaching union NASUWT.

The NASUWT union took urgent action following concerns that pupils were bringing in knives and threatening staff. Paul Nesbitt, the NASUWT national executive member for the West Midlands, said Starbank could be described as "a flagship school" for Birmingham "but it's what's going on inside that's the problem."

Nesbitt reported that one teacher had been punched in the face by a Year 7 pupil and another had been threatened with a weapon by a student who was still at the school. He said there were "intimidating groups" across all ages at the school and that a regular brawl called "Thursday fight" took place. He also reported he himself had seen "pupils running along the corridors screaming when they should have been in class".

The school remained open on Thursday and the executive head teacher, Satnam Dosanjh, said suitable provision had been made to ensure that lessons would continue.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the Nasuwt, responded: "Strike action is a last resort for dedicated and committed teachers but there has been a failure by the employer to take seriously their professional concerns over pupil indiscipline".

The west Birmingham school was praised by Ofsted last year for its "exceptional ethos, care and quality of education".

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Sam Preston

SSS Learning Safeguarding Director

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