Ofsted urges inspectors to act decisively on child protection tip-offs

By Joe Lepper

| 22 June 2015

Ofsted inspectors are being told to contact directors of children's services (DCSs) directly if they receive a tip-off that children are at risk of abuse or neglect, as part of efforts to ensure swift action is taken.

Ofsted inspectors have been told they can approach directors of children's services directly if they receive information that a child is at risk. Picture: Morguefile

Guidance issued to all Ofsted staff reveals that the regulator "regularly receives information that children are suffering or at risk of harm".

It states that even though investigating specific allegations is not part of Ofsted's remit, inspectors must act quickly if they "receive information from members of the public, professionals or providers" or "identify a concern during an inspection".

"If you are first to receive such information, it is important that you respond swiftly in a way that protects children from the risk of being harmed," the guidance states.

"This means telling the right people quickly and in a way that is consistent with Ofsted’s values and the Ofsted safeguarding policy."

Contacting a DCS directly or urgently referring information to local children’s social care teams or police are among responses Ofsted expects its staff to make.  

The guidance states that DCSs should be contacted directly when "whistle-blowing" concerns about “systematic weaknesses” in children’s social care procedures or staff bullying are uncovered.

Ofsted staff should also consider referring child protection concerns to the head of the organisation involved, such as a head teacher or care home manager, unless that organisation is implicated directly in causing harm to a child.

But if such a senior figure fails to deal with a child protection concern made by a children’s professional this should also be reported to the DCS.

The guidance goes on to state that staff should expect feedback outlining what action is being taken within five days from the person, or organisation, they refer a concern to.

If Ofsted staff are not satisfied with the response, or if feedback is not received, the regulator urges them to “escalate the matter” by contacting the DCS.

Where a person in a position of trust, such as a teacher, sports coach or care home worker, is accused of harming a child, Ofsted states that staff should refer concerns the respective councils’ designated team that oversees allegations against those who work with children.

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