Ofsted and safeguarding

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There is a lot of anxiety around safeguarding and inspection. Here, we outline what inspectors are looking for and what evidence you should be sure you have in place.

According to ‘The Evaluation Schedule for Schools’ July 2009, Inspectors should evaluate:

“The effectiveness of the school’s arrangements, including links with key agencies, for ensuring the safety of its pupils”

It is important to note that there is a limiting judgment to safeguarding. If a school is found to be inadequate in the judgment ‘the effectiveness of safeguarding procedures’ then the overall effectiveness of the school is also likely to be judged to be inadequate.

So what are inspectors looking for?

  • The school has clear policies, strategies and procedures to ensure the safeguarding and welfare of pupils, including those relating to behaviour, bullying, health and safety, harassment and discrimination and meets all required duties
  • The school has established clear management responsibilities in relation to child protection including relevant designated staff
  • The school monitors and evaluates the effectiveness of its policies and practices
  • Ensures that adults working with pupils are appropriately recruited and vetted
  • Ensures that adults receive up-to-date, high quality, appropriate training, guidance, support and supervision to undertake the effective safeguarding of pupils
  • Encourages and enables pupils to report any concerns or complaints including concerns about poor or abusive practices
  • Takes reasonable steps to ensure that pupils are safe on the school site, for example by monitoring visitors or volunteers or those using the premises during school time
  • Identifies concerns about possible abuse and/or neglect and/or pupils who may have gone missing, and refer such concerns promptly to the relevant agencies
  • Records information relevant to safeguarding concerns clearly and accurately and shares it appropriately, both internally and with other agencies
  • Helps pupils to keep themselves safe, including encouraging pupils to adopt safe and responsible practices and deal sensibly with risk for example:
    o when handling hazardous equipment and materials
    o looking after themselves during outdoor activities
    o when attending alternative educational or work-related provision
    o using the internet
    o if they come into contact with groups that encourage the use of violence

The evidence they will use

The following list represents the evidence that schools should have available for inspectors:

  • Behaviour policy 
  • Anti-bullying policy 
  • Health and safety policy 
  • Child protection policy 
  • Equal opportunities policy 
  • Single Central Record 
  • Risk assessments 
  • Views of parents on safeguarding 
  • Views of pupils on safeguarding  
  • That designated staff are clearly identified and all staff are aware who the named person is 
  • Record of racist incidents 
  • Record of bullying incidents 
  • Child protection referral records 
  • Minutes from discussions at governing body meetings  
  • Policy evaluation schedule 
  • Participation of a member of the governing body and headteacher in Safer Recruitment Training 
  • Schools Code of Practice 
  • Staff recruitment policy  
  • Training log 
  • Evidence of discussions with pupils 
  • Pupils surveys showing that they know what to do if they are worried and who to talk to 
  • Reports from social care meetings  
  • Vulnerable pupil evidence trail 

Below are the grade descriptors for the judgment ‘the effectiveness of safeguarding procedures: grade descriptors’

Grade Descriptor
Outstanding (1) The school is a leader of high-quality practice, ensuring, for example, that its procedures are constantly updated to reflect developing technologies. The school has excellent quality assurance and risk assessment systems which are routinely informed by pupils’ and parents’ views, including those who may have barriers to communication. There is a comprehensive awareness of safeguarding issues among the governors and staff at all levels, all of whom receive regular training on safeguarding, in particular child protection. As a result, a realistic and proportionate approach to safety and safeguarding permeates all aspects of the school’s life. The school’s collaborative working with other key agencies is exemplary.

Good (2) The school adopts recommended good practice across all areas of its work. The school’s well-developed quality assurance and risk assessment systems take account of the views of pupils and parents. These are acted upon to make effective improvements to the safeguarding systems. Training of all staff, in particular child protection, is of good quality. The school integrates issues about safety and safeguarding into the curriculum so that pupils have a strong understanding of how to keep themselves safe. The school is proactive in building on collaborative working with other key agencies to reduce the risk of harm to pupils.

Satisfactory (3) All safeguarding regulations and duties are met and arrangements and policies for safeguarding are in line with government requirements and systematically reviewed. All staff have been suitably trained and have the skills and expertise required. The school identifies dangers, fosters a realistic understanding of risk and helps pupils to keep themselves safe. Arrangements for interagency working are effective. The school knows which of its pupils are most at risk and gives priority to safeguarding their welfare, including pupils who are excluded or persistently absent.

Inadequate (4) Safeguarding regulations and duties are not met

  • arrangements for safeguarding are not robust and there is no system to maintain and update them, or the systems that are in place are ineffective


  • pupils do not receive sufficient information, or support, to enable them to keep themselves safe


  • there is little or unproductive involvement of key agencies

Schools should use these grade descriptors as a guide to completing this section on the SEF. Using this and the evidence checklist schools should put together an action plan to address any omissions in their practice. Schools should aim to identify any additional actions which would enable them to move up a grade.

The grade descriptor can be separated into the strands of:

  • compliancy with safeguarding requirements e.g. single central record
  • quality assurance, risk assessments
  • pupil and parent views
  • training and having a ‘realistic’ approach
  • the curriculum
  • inter agency work
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