Primary schools get backing from Children's Commissioner


Cutbacks in local authority support services, pending changes in statutory guidance and a lack of professional confidence has led Maggie Atkinson, the Children’s Commissioner for England, to publish a new report aimed at supporting teachers and other education professionals to identify early and help children at risk of neglect or abuse.

The changing environment has led to a number of schools and services reporting that it is hard to keep up to date and in some cases, has led to uncertainty within the workforce around, for example, vetting and barring procedures and statutory child protection and safeguarding duties.

Ms. Atkinson said: “Most primary schools do a good job identifying and supporting children recognised as vulnerable and at risk of abuse and neglect. Schools are in a unique position to work with other agencies to take action. However, teachers have told us they would value guidelines on developing a range of support strategies because the reductions in networks of local services are directly impacting on children and families in need of greater support and schools’ ability to find quickly locate services for them.

"The changing guidance, legislation and inspection criteria have left some teachers confused about what to do for a child they are concerned about.

“This report comes at a time when Local Authorities and other support agencies are under financial pressure which is impacting on support services, and many families are facing greater challenges in the current economic climate. As a result, many schools are now dealing with the impact of these changes on children’s lives and their increased need for support."

She went on to say: "The development of outstanding safeguarding practices is crucial to achieve the best outcomes for children.  Only when they are socially and emotionally secure can children reach their full potential, either academically or personally.”