During the Ofsted Review of Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges Debate, I was pleased to receive assurances from the Minister that the Government recognises the importance of a close relationship between safeguarding partners and schools to ensure that young people are equipped with the knowledge they need to deal with the risks of inappropriate sexual behaviour. You can read my full exchange with the Minister below:
I commend my hon. Friend for the progress that has been made in providing effective education in schools to equip our young people with the skills and knowledge they need to deal with the risks of inappropriate sexual behaviour. Does she agree that despite the many reviews of safeguarding arrangements—the latest being the Wood review—we still lack a sufficiently robust duty on schools to co-operate with local safeguarding arrangements, which in the experience of lead members and directors of children’s services leads to inconsistent practice and makes emerging issues across the school sector harder to spot?
As ever, my hon. Friend raises an important question, which is about how schools and colleges co-operate with safeguarding partners. They are under a statutory duty to co-operate with those partners once they are named as a relevant agency to that partnership. Our guidance is clear that we expect all schools to be brought into local safeguarding arrangements, and that is one reason why we have asked all our local safeguarding partnerships across the country to review now how that system is working locally.
We want to make sure that our safeguarding partners are supporting our schools. It is really important that a school feels it has a relationship with, for example, the police so that if it has a sensitive issue it wants to discuss with them, that can be done with somebody who understands children and young people, understands the behaviour and understands the school. It is about having that sort of closeness of relationship to support each other. That is what I have been told by headteachers again and again, and that is what I would like to see—that sort of close relationship working through those partnerships to keep schools safe. I believe that schools want to do that, and we need to ensure that our safeguarding partnerships are working hand in hand with our schools.