|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Ms Abbott: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer of 13 March 2006, Official Report, column 1860W, on child abuse, who was commissioned by the Department to report on the scale of alleged child abuse related to witchcraft practices. 
Maria Eagle [holding answer 30 March 2006]: Eleanor Stobart was commissioned by my Department to carry out the study to scope the problem of child abuse in England linked to belief in possession" or witchcraft", or in other ways related to particular spiritual or religious belief, and to consider the circumstances leading to such abuse and the common features between cases.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures she is taking to
18 Apr 2006 : Column 153W
ensure that full screening takes place in relation to child protection issues in the provision of (a) child care in all settings from birth to entry to school and (b) youth services. 
Ruth Kelly [holding answer 19 January 2006]: It is already a requirement that childcare for under 8s must register with Ofsted in order to operate. Regulations under the Children Act 1989 require Ofsted to undertake a range of checks, including enhanced CRB disclosures to ensure that nursery and playgroup providers are suitable to care for children. Such checks mean that Ofsted have robust systems in place for preventing unsuitable people from working with young children. We are reviewing the scope of regulations to ensure that there are no further safeguards we need to put in place.
These arrangements include checking the names of prospective employees against the PoCA list through the Criminal Records Bureau, and against List 99. As a result of inclusion on the PoCA list an individual will be disqualified from working with children for the purposes of Section 35 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000. We are currently reviewing arrangements to ensure that any risk to young people is managed effectively.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what child protection procedures are in place to ensure that staff working in (a) further education colleges and (b) early years settings do not pose a risk to children; and if she will make a statement. 
Ruth Kelly: This Government's ambition is to make safeguarding children everyone's business. We want our children to be safe in all settingsand that requires everyone to play their partin Government, as parents, citizens, in the police, local authorities, health bodies, voluntary and private sector organisations.
My statements of 19 January and 1 March, and my report of 19 January, published alongside the statement covered this wider safeguarding agenda, as well as focusing on specific settings where appropriate. List 99 currently covers positions working with children in schools, FE institutions and LEA education services. In addition, the PoCA list is held by my Department pursuant to the Protection of Children Act 1999; this legislation places a statutory duty on child care organisations, employing people in child care or regulated positions" (as defined in section 36 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000), to refer the names of individuals who fulfil criteria making them unsuitable to work with children. The Act also permits other organisations, such as voluntary organisations, sports clubs and scout associations to refer those working in child care positions who meet the criteria for possible inclusion in the PoCA list. A person whose name is included in the PoCA list will be barred from working in a regulated position, for example, a position whose normal duties include work in an educational institution or a position whose normal duties include work on day care premises. Indeed, under the Criminal
18 Apr 2006 : Column 154W
Justice and Court Services Act 2000, it is a criminal offence for such people to seek or obtain work in a regulated position, just as it is a criminal offence for employers to knowingly offer work in a regulated position or fail to remove such a person from employment in a regulated position.
The Department's guidance note Child Protection: Preventing Unsuitable People from Working with Children and Young Persons in the Education Service" issued in June 2005 provides current advice for employers in the education service on preventing unsuitable people from working with children and young persons.
In addition, mandatory CRB checks will be implemented for schools through amendment regulations to be made under sections 35 and 36 of the Education Act 2002 (and section 72 of the School Standards and Framework Act (SSFA) 1998)this will effect amendments to the current School Staffing (England) Regulations 2003. Changes announced by the Secretary of State (on 1 March 2006) will mean that existing arrangements become compulsory for schools through the proposed amendments, which will make an on appointment" CRB check compulsory for all new appointments to the schools workforce. We are looking to apply similar mandatory checks for teachers, tutors and trainers working in FE institutions.
Providers of childcare for under-8s must be registered by Ofsted in order to operate, and the registration process includes an enhanced disclosure from the Criminal Records Bureau to ensure that those providing and managing the service are suitable to work with children. Ofsted also checks those living in the households of registered childminders and, on inspection, checks to ensure that employers have in place vetting procedures to ensure that their staff are suitable to look after children.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether a Criminal Record Bureau check was requested on William Gibson by (a) Dorset county council and (b) the head teacher or other authorised staff at (i) Porchester school in Bournemouth and (ii)Hebburn comprehensive school. 
We have made it clear in successive guidance that CRB checks are strongly recommended as part of the appointment process on anybody who will be working in a school, further education institution or LEA education service.
Safeguarding Children in Education" (September 2004) emphasises the wider responsibilities on employers including adopting recruitment practices which involve scrutinising applicants, verifying any qualifications, obtaining references, checking previous job history as well as a check of List 99 and CRB check where appropriate.
Existing arrangements will become compulsory for schools through regulations to be made under sections 35 and 36 of the Education Act 2002 (and section 72 of the School Standards and Framework Act (SSFA) 1998)these will amend the current School Staffing
18 Apr 2006 : Column 155W
(England) Regulations 2003 and will make a CRB check compulsory prior to, or as soon as practicable after, all new appointments to the schools workforce, where the individual concerned has not worked in a school or institution within the further education sector for at least three months prior to this appointment.
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research she has carried out to establish how many individuals whose names appear on the sex offenders register have been employed in the provision of child care in any regulated pre-school setting in the last four years. 
Ruth Kelly: Any individual who appears on List 99 or the POCA List (other than provisionally) on the grounds of unsuitability to work with children is barred from working in a regulated position" within the meaning of section 36 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 which includes, for example, a position whose normal duties include work on day care premises or a position whose normal duties include caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of children.
Employment decisions are a matter for individual employers and that involves making thorough checks on any individual whose work will bring them in to contact with children. Providers of child care for under-eights must be registered by Ofsted in order to operate, and the registration process includes an enhanced disclosure from the Criminal Records Bureau to ensure that those providing and managing the service are suitable to work with children.
I have not commissioned research to establish how many individuals whose names appear on the sex offenders register have been employed in the provision of child care in any regulated pre-school setting in the last four years.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|