Although it has always been helpful for a school to have clear guidance on the management of visiting speakers, the Prevent Duty set out that this is now an expectation.
“Specified authorities will need to…[have] robust safeguarding policies in place to identify children at risk…These policies should set out clear protocols for ensuring that any visiting speakers – whether invited by staff or by children themselves – are suitable and appropriately supervised”. (Prevent Duty Guidance in England and Wales HM Government July 2015)
Key aspects of the visiting speakers’ policy will include:
- A formal procedure for inviting speakers, which involves approval by the headteacher and a clear understanding of why the speaker has been chosen
- A list of appropriate checks on the suitability of the person, which may include internet searches and/or contacting other schools where the person has spoken previously
- Although not always possible, it is useful to invite speakers from an established company, charity or other group whose aims are well-documented
- A document for the speaker to read and sign, to ensure that they understand they must abide by the school’s equality commitments; that there must be no statements which might cause offence to others, or otherwise undermine tolerance of other faiths or beliefs; and there must be no extremist material.
- An understanding that the speaker will be expected to talk with staff about the content of the presentation before the event; speakers and staff must allow time for this discussion, whether it is on the day or beforehand
- An understanding that such talks and presentations will not be used to raise funds, without the prior written permission of the headteacher
- Visiting speakers must arrive at reception in good time to book in, and must bring suitable identification. Although viewing DBS certificates may be appropriate, most visiting speakers will not be in ‘regulated activity’ and so will not necessarily have a DBS certificate to present
- Visitors must be supervised at all times and not left alone with pupils, unless they have confirmed DBS checks.
- Visiting speakers should understand that their presentation will be brought to an early end, if the content proves unsuitable.
- All information about the visiting speaker and the booking process should be recorded on a suitable proforma
After the presentation, an evaluation form should be completed which will include feedback from staff, note any contentious subject areas or comments, and state whether the speaker could be booked again in the future. Once a person has visited a school, future checks shoukd be proportionate.