Safeguarding - the rule changes
14 Dec 2009
The changes to the new safeguarding rules announced today hardly amount to a 'U-turn' - as they were trailed - but they do appear to be sensible and practical.
The minor changes - which exempt children on a foreign exchange trip where parents have given their consent to children staying with host families - will save unnecessary bureaucracy and leaves things as they stand now.
The more significant changes relate to the frequency with which visitors come into schools. The original proposal was that anyone who was involved with children either more than 3 times in any 30 days or more than once a month must register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority at a cost of £64.
This has now been changed to cover only those who visit schools 'more than once a week or four times in one month'. This is easier to remember and means those who visit only two or three times a month will not have to register.
The other important change is that the scheme will no longer cover people - such as authors, police officers, visiting speakers or journalists - who may visit schools more than once a week but who go to different schools each time. They are now exempt from the scheme.
The changes seem to get a better balance between the need to protect children and the avoidance of unnecessary bureaucracy.
As I found when filming a programme on safeguarding for Teachers TV, some schools are now already asking all visitors if they have a CRB check. It is likely that, if only to be on the safe side of the rules, many schools would have started to ask all occasional visitors to be registered with the Independent Safeguarding Authority.
Now it is clear that occasional visitors who are unlikely to be left alone with children will not need to be included in the scheme.
There is no doubt that safeguarding is a big issue for schools, especially now that it is specifically defined as a 'limiting judgement' by Ofsted (which means that even if all else is satisfactory it would bring down the school's grade).
Today's changes are not the end of these concerns but they should simplify matters.
My programme in the Teachers TV series 'Need To Know' will cover everything schools should know about safeguarding. It includes an interview with Sir Roger Singleton, head of the ISA. It will be broadcast soon. For details see: http://www.teachers.tv/series/46