Allegations Against School Staff - Children, Schools and Families Committee Contents

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF)

  Thank you for your letter of 23 June requesting further information for the Committee's short inquiry into allegations against school staff. I will take each of your points in turn.

1.   Please supply a list of guidance produced centrally for those involved in handling and investigating allegations made against school staff (including police officers, local authority staff, school leaders, school governors and others).

  Guidance on Dealing with Allegations of Abuse Against Teachers and Other Staff was first published in November 2005. The same procedures were included in Working Together to Safeguard Children, published in April 2006. In November 2006, the guidance was incorporated into Chapter 5 of Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education. This came into force on 1 January 2007.

Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education is aimed at all schools (maintained and independent), FE colleges, pupil referral units and local authorities in their education functions. It replaced a number of documents including Dealing with Allegations of Abuse Against Teachers and Other Staff.

  Working Together to Safeguard Children is addressed to practitioners and front-line managers who have particular responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, and to senior and operational managers, in an organisation that:

    —  are responsible for commissioning or providing services to children, young people, and adults who are parents/carers; and

    —  have a particular responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

2.   What is the role of Local Safeguarding Children Boards in dealing with allegations?

  The Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) is the key statutory mechanism for agreeing how the relevant organisations in each local area will co-operate to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in that locality, and for ensuring the effectiveness of what they do. LSCBs must develop policies and procedures on "investigation of allegations concerning people working with children" that are based on the guidance in paragraphs 6.20-6.30 and Appendix 5 of Working Together. As part of their monitoring and evaluation function they should then ensure that the LA and Board partners use the procedures effectively, and advise them on ways to improve. LSCBs do not have a role in investigating individual allegations.

3.   Please set out (i) the procedures under which the Independent Safeguarding Authority will review the suitability of school staff to work with children, and (ii) the expected timescale for that process.

  From November 2010, all new workers, seeking to work paid or unpaid with children, must gain ISA registration before starting work. This requirement includes school staff.

From January 2011 we will begin to roll out ISA registration to the existing workforce—those in post when the new requirements came in. We expect full roll out to take around five years as we estimate that, when the scheme is fully rolled out, around 11 million individuals will be engaging in regulated activity, both paid and unpaid, and working both with children and vulnerable adults.

  Applications for ISA registration are channelled through the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). ISA registration is expected to take around seven days.

  As part of the process, CRB will gather together the conviction and caution information on the individual, along with any relevant local police information, and pass this to the ISA. The ISA will consider the information and decide whether or not the individual poses a risk of harm and should be barred. They will then invite the individual's representations and consider them before taking a final decision. ISA may also consider an individual for barring as a result of information supplied by referral from an employer, as happens now with referrals to the current barring schemes.

  The records of individuals who are registered are kept continuously up to date. So if new relevant local information, or a new conviction, comes to light this information is sent to the ISA for consideration as well.

  The law governing ISA's barring decisions is set out in Schedule 3 to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act and in secondary legislation made under the Act, in particular the Barring Procedure regulations (SI 2008/474) and the Prescribed Criteria and Miscellaneous Provisions Regulations (SI 2009/37). These latter regulations set out the list of offences that lead to automatic barring under the Act. Section 35 of the Act sets out the circumstances in which an employer must make a referral and the Prescribed Information Regulations (SI 2008/3265) set out the information that must be provided.

  The ISA have provided some more information on its decision making process. This is available on its website

4.   Who is responsible for any decision on (i) whether to hold an independent investigation into an allegation and (ii) who should carry out an independent investigation?

  It would normally be the decision of the employer as to whether an independent investigation is done, and if so who should carry that out. Paragraph 5.21 of Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education says:

    "In some such cases6 further enquiries will be needed to enable a decision about how to proceed. If so, the local authority designated officer should discuss with the head teacher/principal and chair of governors how and by whom the investigation will be undertaken. In straightforward cases that should normally be undertaken by a senior member of the school or FE college staff. However, in other circumstances, lack of appropriate resource within a school or FE college, or the nature of complexity of the allegation, will require an independent investigator. Many local authorities already provide for an independent investigation of allegations in some way, often as part of the personnel services that schools and FE colleges can buy in from the authority. It is important that local authorities ensure that schools and FE colleges have access to an affordable facility for independent investigation where that is appropriate".

5.   How can an individual challenge the content of "soft" information disclosed at police officers' discretion in response to an Enhanced Disclosure CRB check?

  This is a matter for the Criminal Records Bureau to advise the Committee on. However, I have annexed to this letter a copy of the information from the CRB website on "How to raise a dispute".7

June 2009

6   Cases where it is clear that an investigation by police and/or enquiries by social care are not necessary, or the strategy discussion or initial evaluation decides that is the case.

7   Not printed. See

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