The latest Ofsted report has found that the measures put in place by the best schools to keep children safe could be replicated by every school.

Improvements in safeguarding have been rapid and widespread in recent years, and nearly all schools now give an appropriately high priority to getting their safeguarding procedures right. In her commentary on the findings set out in Ofsted’s 2009/10 Annual Report, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector wrote:

‘Safeguarding…is an issue addressed not only with increasing sureness by those responsible for keeping children and learners safe, but one felt keenly by those most vulnerable to harm and neglect.’

Safeguarding remains high on Ofsted’s agenda and will continue to do so. The purpose of this good practice report is to identify the features of exceptionally good safeguarding.

The report ‘Safeguarding in schools: best practice’ distils the features of exceptionally good practice in safeguarding in schools where safeguarding was judged to be outstanding between September 2009 and July 2010.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Miriam Rosen said:

“There can be no issue of greater importance to parents and carers, or to schools, than the safety of their children.

“The good practice described in this report is replicable, with a sensible awareness of the local context, in every school. I hope schools can use this report as a practical working document to help them understand the features of good practice and to make improvements where required.”

In outstanding schools, pupils’ safeguarding is central to all that the schools do. These schools often go above and beyond the requirements which they do not see as a burden. Every member of the school community is involved in some way.

Key Features

Most of the features of outstanding practice are found, to a greater or lesser extent, in all effective schools with outstanding safeguarding arrangements. It is a wide-ranging list and includes:

  • high-quality leadership and management that makes safeguarding a priority across all aspects of a school’s work
  • stringent vetting procedures in place for staff and other adults
  • rigorous safeguarding policies and procedures in place, written in plain English, compliant with statutory requirements and updated regularly; in particular, clear and coherent child protection policies
  • child protection arrangements that are accessible to everyone, so that pupils and families, as well as adults in the school, know who they can talk to if they are worried
  • excellent communication systems with up-to-date information that can be accessed and shared by those who need it
  • a high priority given to training in safeguarding, generally going beyond basic requirements, extending expertise widely and building internal capacity
  • robust arrangements for site security, understood and applied by staff and pupils
  • a curriculum that is flexible, relevant and engages pupils’ interest; that is used to promote safeguarding, not least through teaching pupils how to stay safe, how to protect themselves from harm and how to take responsibility for their own and others’ safety
  • courteous and responsible behaviour by the pupils, enabling everyone to feel secure and well-protected
  • well thought out and workable day-to-day arrangements to protect and promote pupils’ health and safety
  • rigorous monitoring of absence, with timely and appropriate follow-up, to ensure that pupils attend regularly
  • risk assessment taken seriously and used to good effect in promoting safety

Weaknesses in safeguarding are usually related to failings in leadership, management and governance. In the small number of schools judged inadequate for issues solely related to safeguarding, the breaches were serious. Inspectors look at safeguarding early on in an inspection so that simple errors can be corrected before the end of the inspection.

As well as promoting best practice, the report sets out clearly how Ofsted inspects a school’s safeguarding procedures. The key word for both inspectors and schools is ‘reasonable’. The report aims to reassure schools that Ofsted makes judgements about safeguarding that are both fair and reasonable.

The report ‘Safeguarding in schools: best practice’ can be found on the Ofsted website at www.ofsted.gov.uk