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Safeguarding checks still needed for East Lancashire schools
PROPOSALS to give headteachers more freedom when making checks on new members of staff have been slammed as a ‘backwards step’.
Unions and headteachers have said new Department for Education proposals for safeguarding children are not strict enough.
New government proposals say schools will no longer need a person specially trained in safeguarding on the appointment panel for school staff jobs.
New guidelines would also remove the statutory requirement for all school staff to undergo safeguarding training every three years.
Though a requirement for vetting check remains, educators say this is not enough.
Headteacher Paul Trickett at Rhyddings High School in Oswaldtwistle said: “It’s going backwards and can only be described as a retrograde step.
“You could describe these proposals as removing bureaucracy, however this is the one area where checks and double checks are needed.
“There have been offenders in the past across the UK who gained access to schools in spite of a standard conviction check. It was identitified that more was needed.
“It is not bureaucracy if it works and it provides an added safety net. I for one would not welcome being solely responsible for this.”
In contrast, the Welsh government is consulting for more stringent checks to be included in recruitment practices.
The foreword in the latest draft guidance for safeguarding children says past tragedies have incorrectly led to reactive bureaucracy.
The DofE statement claims there is: “A culture of unnecessary checking and a tick-box approach to safeguarding”.
It reads: “This government is taking a different approach. We start with a presumption of trust and confidence in those who work with children, and the good sense and judgement of their managers.
“It is the firm view of the government that children are best protected when professionals are clear about their responsibilities, understanding and accountability.
“They should know what is required of them individually, and how they need to work together but have the autonomy to make decisions to protect children from harm.”
Tim Mitchell at Norden High School said: “We would be very wary of making any changes in our appointment process. As a county school we are happy to abide by county procedures.
“We would definitely want someone experienced in safeguarding with the latest advice on our appointments panel. In fact we are going through a selection process right now and the governors are getting extra safeguarding training for themselves, not less.”
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