Safeguarding in Independent Schools

Safeguarding legislation applies to all schools, including independent schools, although it is enacted through different Acts. Keeping Children Safe in Education says ‘it is statutory guidance from the Department for Education issued under Section 175 of the Education Act 2002, the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014 and the Education (Non-Maintained Special Schools) (England) Regulations 2011. Schools and colleges must have regard to it when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Education (Independent Schools Standards) Regulations 2014

The Education (Independent Schools Standards) Regulations 2014 (ISSR) came into force in January 2015. In part 3, the welfare, health and safety of pupils’, there is a new requirement to draw up and effectively implement a written risk assessment policy to safeguard pupils and promote their welfare, and to take appropriate action to reduce any risks identified.

In order to complete this risk policy, schools must clearly understand the risks and come to a view about how these risks will be mitigated and support children in developing greater resilience. Considering safeguarding risks for pupils at the school is different to the risks assessments for health and safety. The risks will vary from by location and schools context.

Part 8 of the ISSR sets out a standard for the ‘quality of leadership in and management of schools’ (including governance), which it defines as ‘demonstrating good skills and knowledge appropriate to the role…so that the independent school standards are met consistently’ and…’actively promote the well-being of pupils’. There are instances where independent schools which have been inspected by Ofsted have been given a negative judgement here, as safeguarding standards were not being met as set out above.

Further reading: Education (Independent Schools Standards) Regulations 2014

Proprietor-led Schools

Schools that are owned and operated on a day-to-day basis by the proprietors offer particular risks to pupils as there are no trustees or governing body to oversee the effectiveness of the school. In such schools, it may be difficult to raise concerns or complaints, especially where the proprietors are partners or are married to each other. Proprietor-led schools should therefore be able to demonstrate that there are independent routes to raise safeguarding concerns and provide an overview of safeguarding at the school.

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