William Eichler 02 February 2017

Academies need ‘transparent’ safeguarding arrangements to prevent child abuse

A West Berkshire serious case review has reported there is a need for ‘clear and transparent’ governance arrangements of safeguarding, particularly in academies, to protect children from abuse.

A serious case review published yesterday by the West Berkshire Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) has recommended improvements to local organisations’ safeguarding practices.

The review was commissioned in March 2016 in response to the sentencing of two men earlier that year for separately committing sexual offences against children.

The West Berkshire safeguarding board investigated how organisations handled allegations of sexual offences against children which were committed by people in positions of trust.

It discovered there were missed opportunities to prevent the abuse of children, and agencies and individuals with statutory responsibilities could have followed up issues of concern more quickly.

It also said there was a need for clear and transparent governance arrangements of safeguarding, particularly in academies.

The review recommended all organisations introduce a programme of awareness and training on safer recruitment processes, with particular focus on ensuring there are safe organisational cultures.

It also said the LSCB checks to ensure all organisations have whistleblowing procedures in place and these are reviewed to determine how effective they are.

‘In West Berkshire it’s not often that we need a Serious Case Review but on this occasion it was absolutely right that we look at how we might learn from this,’ said Fran Gosling-Thomas, independent chair of the LSCB.

‘We fully accept the conclusions of the report and will continue our work implementing the recommendations as quickly as we can.’

Responding to the report, council leader Roger Croft said: ‘I welcome this comprehensive report from the Safeguarding Children's Board and accept the recommendations it makes for safeguarding practices.

‘We recognise that there is learning for us and other agencies. The council has already started making the changes suggested for us.’

‘In working closely with schools the Local Authority's role is to both support them in improving and on occasions to challenge their performance with regards to safeguarding,’ he continued.

‘We are committed to continually improving the safeguarding of all West Berkshire children wherever they are educated. We will work closely with all schools and through the LSCB to ensure this.

‘I am very grateful to the West Berkshire Safeguarding Children's Board for this review and together we will ensure the recommendations continue to be implemented without delay.’

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