Children being failed - Ofsted

PUBLISHED: 08:00 20 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:03 22 October 2010

Schools, councils and the Government are failing in their duties to keep children safe from paedophiles, a damning report from Ofsted found today.

Schools, councils and the Government are failing in their duties to keep children safe from paedophiles, a damning report from Ofsted found today.

Some schools "disregarded" official recommendations not to hire staff where records checks raised fears that they posed a risk, the education watchdog said.

Neither headteachers nor councils could prove that teachers were vetted properly.

And the Government has "no way' of ensuring the recommended checks are conducted in thousands of schools.

Former Education Secretary Ruth Kelly commissioned the watchdog's investigation in January following a row over the appointment of Paul Reeve, who was given the green light by ministers to work at the Hewett School in Norwich, despite receiving a police caution for downloading child pornography.

Inspectors visited 58 schools across the country and identified serious problems with the process of vetting teachers through Criminal Records Bureau checks and List 99, the Department for Education's official blacklist of adults judged unsuitable for work in schools.

The watchdog's report criticised confusing guidance from the Department for Education for failing to cover important issues.

Chief Inspector of Schools Maurice Smith said: "Schools and local authorities must keep up-to-date and reliable records to prove that the necessary checks on staff have been carried out.

"Currently, everybody thinks that somebody else is doing this, or that it is somebody else's job when, in fact, hardly anybody has secure evidence that any of the simplest tasks have been completed at all, or when.

"While it is highly likely that checks have been made, schools which do not have robust record-keeping in place cannot demonstrate that the safeguarding of children is secure.

"All 58 schools we visited for this survey think that the local authority is carrying out those checks, but they do not know whether this is the case or not, and even when they do know, almost all of them do not record the date, timing or reference of the check in an orderly and accessible way. When employing supply teachers or teachers from abroad, these schools largely do not know whether or not such staff have been checked.'

Ofsted said councils should insist on seeing evidence that schools are keeping proper records and the Government should provide clearer guidance on who needs to be checked and how often.

Education Secretary Alan Johnson immediately announced new rules which he said would tighten record keeping procedures for schools in England.

Shadow education secretary David Willetts said: "After all the public concern over this sensitive issue, this is a truly shocking state of affairs.”

The Ofsted report came after Home Secretary John Reid said he was considering calls to provide public access to information about paedophiles in the community. He also ordered the removal of 60 convicted sex offenders from hostels close to schools.

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