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PM guilty of shocking complacency on child protection
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Meg Munn MP has accused the Prime Minister of shocking complacency on child protection after his refusal to review the process of Ofsted school inspections and ensure all schools have their safeguarding procedures and practice inspected on a regular basis.
In response to a recent Prime Minister’s Question by the Heeley MP, the PM agreed to look carefully at the issues, as schools rated good and outstanding academically can go a number of years without having their child protection procedures inspected. He has now, however, confirmed to Meg in a letter that he is content with the current policy.
This is an issue which has concerned the Child Protection APPG, which Meg chairs, for some time. The Group has argued an improved arrangement needs to be put in place to ensure that outstanding schools are not left without any external overview for significant periods of time in relation to their safeguarding responsibilities.
Evidence from recent Serious Case Reviews suggests there is no clear correlation between a school being academically good and having good safeguarding policies. Furthermore the focus of Ofsted is primarily on academic achievement and pays little heed to the wider welfare considerations that affect children. Ofsted will inspect if concerns are brought to their attention but this is an overreliance on someone identifying a problem before action is taken.
“Having promised to look into this important issue I am extremely disappointed with the shocking complacency we are now seeing from the Prime Minister. The PM is simply closing his eyes to the lessons from previous cases. We know young people often do not tell what is happening to them for many reasons.
Ofsted has increasingly focused on purely academic outcomes but surely the recent cases of widespread sexual exploitation tell us we must do better. Child protection must be central to inspections and all schools must be regularly inspected.
Schools are in a unique position to identify problems, and to identify them early, yet many fail to do so. We are beginning to understand the widespread nature of abuse, particularly the number of children subject to sexual exploitation, not to take this step is negligent. The PM has identified other ways he wants to improve the system why not take this obvious step?”