On 2 December, 2018 the Department for Education (DfE) launched an open consultation the aim of which is to write a draft code of practice on safeguarding in out-of-school settings with accompanying guidance for parents.
The draft code seeks to bring together legal requirements and good safeguarding practice for providers into one document, and to encourage the putting in place of stronger safeguarding arrangements.
The parental guidance is intended to encourage parents to ask key safeguarding questions to help satisfy themselves that their children are in a safe setting.
In launching the consultation the DfE acknowledges that out-of-school settings do a great job providing children with enriching activities in many subjects – including arts, language, music, sport and religion. Out-of-school settings also provide an important service to children in their area and the community as a whole. Some of the many benefits highlighted in previous government consultations include improving cultural awareness, building self-esteem, and encouraging children to become active citizens. Whilst the majority of out –of-school settings do all of this in a safe environment, there are some settings which do not.
There are many existing legal powers and processes already in place to protect children attending these settings, however as a whole, the sector is currently not regulated by education and childcare law, meaning out-of-school settings providers are not subject to the same safeguarding regulation as registered schools or childcare settings.
The Government says that it is committed to safeguarding all children and protecting them from the risk of harmful practices, including, for example, unsafe premises, unsuitable staff, inappropriate forms of punishment and discipline, and exposure to harmful extremist views. This code of practice when introduced is intended to be a supportive resource for out-of-school settings providers. It aims to set out best safeguarding practice, empowering those settings already doing a good job to continue providing children with valuable learning opportunities, whilst addressing concerns about settings which are not appropriately safeguarding and promoting our children’s welfare. The Government accepts that the code when produced must be proportionate and not create undue burdens for the providers.
Out-of-school service providers include institutions which provide tuition, training, instruction, or activities to children in England without their parents’ or carers’ supervision; that is not a School, College, 16-19 academy or a provider caring for children under 8 years old which is registered with Ofsted or a childminder agency. These include uniformed youth organisations such as the Scouts and Guides; open access youth work and religious settings which offer education in their own faith, such as Sunday Schools and those of other faiths and religions.
This consultation is aimed at the following:-
- Out-of-school settings providers
- Staff and volunteers working in out-of-school settings
- Accreditation bodies
- Local authorities
- Young people
- Any other interested organisations and individuals
The code when introduced will be a voluntary document which will set out best practice and help providers understand how they can ensure that they are delivering education and activities in a safe environment.
If you and/or your organisation may be impacted by this consultation and you want to make an enquiry you should note as follows:-
If your enquiry is related to the policy content of the consultation you can contact the team on: 0207 783 8582 for out-of-school settings policy and ask for the Regulatory Framework Unit or email: OOSS.firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your enquiry is related to the DfE e-consultation website or the consultation process in general, you can contact the DfE Ministerial and Public Communications Division by email: Consultations.Coordinator@education.gov.uk or by telephone: 0370 000 2288 or via the DfE Contact us page.
Deadline: the consultation closes on 24 February 2019.
Authored by Sharon Moohan, Partner