Local authorities have overarching statutory responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children and young people in their area. Whilst local authorities play a lead role, safeguarding children and protecting them from harm is everyone's responsibility.
Under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 duties are placed on a range of organisations and individuals to ensure to ensure their functions are discharged with regards to the safeguarding of children and young people. The statutory guidance (Working Together) does not identify a multi academy trust as a separate organisation. Nor are academies named under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 but they are captured under other legislation, for example Sections 157 and 175 of the Education Act 2002, Sections 94 (1) and (2) of the Education and Skills Act 2008, the Education Regulations 2011 and 2014.
In March 2015 The DfE published 'Keeping Children Safe in Education' statutory guidance for schools and colleges. This guidance contains information on what schools, including academies, should do and sets out the legal duties which they must comply with.
In law individual academies are deemed to be 'relevant partners' of their local authority and as such are under a duty to co-operate in that local authority's Local Safeguarding Children's Board arrangements. The Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014 apply a duty on proprietors of independent schools including academies to make arrangements for ensuring that their functions are exercised with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. This legal requirement and the values and principles that underpin Northern Education Trust mean that it is essential that the multi-academy trust ensures not only compliance at the local level but also assumes a strategic responsibility to ensure that safeguarding practice is of high quality.
Northern Education Trust ensures that all NET academies:
- have a designated professional lead and a designated governor for safeguarding
- have in place safeguarding arrangements which are designed to take account of all possible safeguarding issues including Child Sexual Exploitation and Preventing Radicalisation
- adhere to safe recruitment practices
- have arrangements for working together with other agencies and for sharing information with other professionals
- take account of their local authority's procedures and practices established by the Local Safeguarding Children's Board and comply with any requests from that Board
- have in place effective child protection and staff behaviour policies
- develop a culture of listening to children and take account of their wishes and feelings
- provide appropriate supervision and support for staff including undertaking safeguarding induction and training
- follow clear policies for dealing with allegations against people who work with children
- have clear procedures in place to handle allegations of abuse against children
- have clear whistleblowing procedures which reflect the principles of Sir Robert Francis's Freedom to Speak Up review
- consider how children may be taught about safeguarding, including online, through teaching and learning opportunities as part of a broad and balanced curriculum
- appoint a designated teacher to promote the educational achievement of children who are looked after and ensure that staff have the skills, knowledge and understanding necessary to keeping looked after children safe
- put in place appropriate safeguarding responses to children who go missing from education
- fulfil all of their statutory responsibilities in respect of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children
NET will also:
- Monitor the quality of safeguarding practices and their impact on outcomes for children across the Trust and provide regular reports to the Chief Executive and the Trust Board.
- Work with the Directors of Primary and Secondary Academies to ensure that the performance of vulnerable children is effectively monitored and that appropriate support is made available to those children who are at risk of achieving poor outcomes because they are the subject of a CAF (Common Assessment Framework) or Children's Social Care intervention
- Report on the outcomes of vulnerable children who are in need, subject to Child Protection plans or who are Looked After.
- Liaise with local authority lead professionals for safeguarding, LSCBs, Ofsted, EFA and other agencies as required
- Produce an annual Safeguarding action plan as part of the Trust's business planning arrangements
- Commission external challenge and support where appropriate to ensure academies meet their statutory responsibilities in respect of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children
Policy in respect of safeguarding is mainly determined at national and local authority level and it is the responsibility of each academy to implement such policy. NET's safeguarding service ensures adherence to national and local policy in the interests of vulnerable children and young people. Failure to implement appropriate arrangements in academies to safeguard and promote the well being of children carries significant reputational risk for the Trust.
Northern Education Trust works in partnership with Clennell Education Solutions (www.clennelleducationsolutions.co.uk) to provide advice and support to the Trust and to academies. Each individual academy is responsible for ensuring compliance with its Local Safeguarding Children's Board procedures and policies and for publishing its own safeguarding policy in accordance with statutory requirements.