NEW Ofsted Education Inspection Framework for September 2019

The new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework for September 2019 has been published. Whilst there are a number of broader changes, this article is concerned only with the inspection of safeguarding. As before there is a specific document called ‘Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills’ and this has also been updated (see below).

The Education Inspection Framework (EIF) has four judgements:

  • Quality of Education
  • Behaviour and Attitudes
  • Personal Development
  • Leadership and Management

Personal Development includes:

  • British values
  • Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development
  • Relationships and sex education
  • Health education, including safety
  • Mental health awareness and support

Safeguarding won’t be graded specifically in the new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework for September 2019, but it will be referenced in the Leadership and Management section of the report.

The EIF handbook says, ‘when safeguarding is ineffective, this is likely to lead to an inadequate leadership and management judgement’. However, if there are minor weaknesses in safeguarding arrangements that are easy to put right and do not leave children either being harmed or at risk of harm then a ‘requires improvement’ judgement may be made. (School inspection handbook 2019 (for section 5), paragraph 269)

Inspectors will be looking for evidence that ‘the provider has a culture of safeguarding that supports effective arrangements to identify learners who may be at risk; which responds in a timely way; and that staff recruitment is managed and any allegations are dealt with appropriately.

As before, the 2019 iteration of the handbook says that by 8am on the first day of inspection, schools must make available to inspectors, a list of safeguarding referrals made to the DSL, and a list of those that were subsequently referred to the local authority, along with brief details of the resolution. There should also be a list of all pupils who cases are open to children’s services/social care and for whom there is a multi-agency plan (School Inspection Handbook 2019 (page 16).

In the new EIF, inspectors will be looking closely at how the behaviour of learners is being managed, and the strategies the school has to develop alternative strategies to exclusion. Importantly, inspectors will look for evidence that the school is taking account of any safeguarding risks to pupils who may be excluded.

Where pupils are attending off-site units, inspectors may visit units and assess safeguarding procedures, the quality of education and how effectively the unit helps to improve pupils’ behaviour, learning and attendance.

Governors or trustees are responsible for ensuring that the school fulfils its statutory duties and inspectors will consider how well that oversight is being discharged.(paragraph 239)

The Ofsted Education Inspection Framework for September 2019 documents can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/education-inspection-framework


Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills (from September 2019)

Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills was updated in 2018 to take account of the publication of Keeping Children Safe in Education and so there are few changes. Ofsted include their definition of ‘County Lines’: [these are] ‘situations where children may be trafficked within England for the purpose of criminal exploitation by urban gangs that supply drugs to suburban areas, market or coastal towns and/ or other urban areas.

New risks specified in the document include risks linked to using technology and social media:

  • online bullying;
  • the risks of being groomed online for exploitation or radicalisation;
  • and risks of accessing and generating inappropriate content, for example ‘sexting’

The signs of successful safeguarding arrangements

‘Adults working with [children and young people] know and understand the indicators that may suggest that a child, young person or vulnerable adult is suffering or is at risk of suffering abuse, neglect or harm and they take the appropriate and necessary action in accordance with local procedures and statutory guidance’.

This version of ‘Inspecting Safeguarding’ incorporates the idea of Contextual Safeguarding. As well as child protection risks at home, the document also references risks ‘outside the home such as sexual and/or criminal exploitation, radicalisation, bullying and children going missing.’

Effective safeguarding can be seen when:

New paragraphs here include

  • Children and learners are protected and know how to get support if they experience bullying, homophobic behaviour, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination. Any discriminatory behaviours are challenged and help and support are given to children about how to treat others with respect.
  • Adults understand the risks associated with using technology, including social media, of bullying, grooming, exploiting, radicalising or abusing children or learners.
  • In cases of peer-on-peer abuse, staff should consider what support might be needed for the perpetrators as well as the victims.

One interesting paragraph that has been added since the last edition of ‘Inspecting safeguarding’ is this one:

‘Adults understand that children’s poor behaviour may be a sign that they are suffering harm or that they have been traumatised by abuse’ (page 9).

For me this is one of the most important additions to the documentation and it introduces the idea that there is a possibility that ‘poor’ behaviour might be driven by ‘something’ that has happened. I think schools should have clear systems in place, so that any pupil whose behaviour is giving a cause for concern is screened for possible abuse or trauma. 

The work of leaders and governors

Inspectors will look at ‘how effectively leaders and governors create a safeguarding culture in the setting’. New aspects that Ofsted want to be assured of include the risk of peer-on-peer abuse. How this is dealt with should be covered adequately in the child protection and safeguarding policy.

Newly added to the inspection guidance is the emphasis that is placed on all staff understanding how to handle reports of sexual violence and harassment between children, both on and outside school premises, in line with the Department for Education’s guidance. Inspectors will check that this training has taken place and that staff know what to do.

Other new additions include schools identifying learners who may need support with their mental health (paragraph 19); and that children are supported to ‘understand what constitutes a healthy relationship both online and offline, and to recognise risk’.

Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills (from September 2019) can be downloaded here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/inspecting-safeguarding-in-early-years-education-and-skills-from-september-2015

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