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IICSA Residential Schools Investigation Update

on Friday, 18 January 2019.

The first preliminary hearing in the Residential Schools Investigation took place on 16 January 2019.

At present only phase 1 of this investigation is formally open. This covers the preparation and publication of a closed schools report, and public hearings (scheduled for 30 September - 11 October 2019) examining the music schools and the special schools sectors.

The Inquiry gave a summary of common themes likely to be examined in both the music and special schools hearings:

  • Recruitment, vetting and safeguarding training undertaken by full time and part time teaching staff
  • Supervision and monitoring of staff and accountability to governors
  • Understanding of child sexual abuse, grooming and warning signs
  • Audit, monitoring and inspection against applicable standards
  • Response to allegations and reparation/compensation arrangements
  • Internal investigations and acting on findings
  • Disciplinary processes, reporting to statutory bodies and other schools
  • Information sharing between employers and regulators
  • Record keeping
  • Positive factors/ways in which particular schools protect children
  • LADO/police and CPS response
  • How schools have altered their policies, practices and procedures

In addition, specific issues will be examined:

In music schools:

  • Toleration of grooming by exceptional staff (talented musicians)

In special schools:

  • Regulation of non-teaching staff in special schools
  • Current system of teaching children with SEND about inappropriate sexual behaviours and staff training available to deliver this
  • Steps to give children with SEND a voice/communicate incidents of abuse
  • How the sector manages peer on peer abuse and sexually harmful behaviours
  • Inter-personal relationships between staff and children with SEND
  • Funding body oversight of safeguarding practices and procedures
  • Management and support given to those with convictions
  • Difficulties that police/CPS and local authorities face when investigating allegations

The Inquiry has indicated that the likely timetable for the hearings aspects of phase 1 is as follows:

  • Disclosure of all documents and witness statements by end of July/mid-August 2019
  • Circulation of proposed witness list in beginning/mid -August 2019
  • Thereafter the Inquiry has referred to a "window of a couple of weeks" for core participants to comment on and make submissions
  • Witness evidence and oral evidence proposals will be circulated in late August/early September 2019
  • Submissions on witness list and evidence shortly after

Further preliminary hearings may take place to provide more details about the substantive hearing and deal with administrative matters.

Phase 2

The Inquiry also expanded on the themes to be examined in phase 2:

  • Policies practices and process of schools, local authorities and central government, and whether they were followed
  • Training, education, recruitment and professional development of teachers and school staff, and their understanding of child protection and suitability to undertake the role
  • School, police, local authority and CPS response to disclosures
  • Systems in place for reporting abuse to statutory bodies and disciplinary investigations
  • Role of LADO, police and CPS
  • Structure and governance of schools
  • Systems in place to ensure accountability for wellbeing and safety of students
  • Adequacy of systems of redress

Other issues likely to be examined at this later stage are:

  • Culture of education system as a whole - behaviours, values, beliefs
  • Extent that a culture of secrecy has been tolerated or encouraged by schools - did it inhibit disclosure and investigation?
  • Avoidance of reporting for fear of reputational damage or financial reasons
  • Particular cultures in schools facilitating/enabling abuse eg hyper-masculinity
  • Toleration of other forms of abuse encouraging and creating a culture of sexual abuse
  • Nature and structure of institutions and unwillingness to accept criticism
  • Gender stereotyping and the impact on willingness to report
  • Attitude to sex, gender and sexuality impacting on culture
  • Whether an influx of women into the hierarchy of all-male schools changes school culture
  • Hierarchical nature in some schools creating power imbalances, inhibiting reporting of abuse
  • Approach and attitudes towards sex and relationship education
  • Culture of transparency
  • Regime for inspecting and monitoring wellbeing to prevent/minimise risk of abuse
  • Systems of reporting unsuitable staff and how this works in practice/is enforced
  • The extent inspectorates, regulators and representative bodies provide monitoring and oversight of schools and those who work(ed) within them

The identification of case studies/situations and timing for core participant applications for phase 2 are not yet open. At this stage, the Inquiry has simply stated that further update notes about phase 2 are likely to be published "later this year" and a two week substantive hearing will take place "during 2020".

Should you have any queries about the content of this article, please contact Tabitha Cave in our Regulatory Compliance team on 0117 314 5381.

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