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STOP PRESS: Residential Schools Investigation Update

on Monday, 08 October 2018.

On 5th October, IICSA published an update and invited applications for core participant status in the Residential Schools investigation.

This will focus on the nature and extent of, and institutional responses to, child sexual abuse in residential schools, state and independent, and schools for children with disabilities and/or special educational needs.

It has been confirmed that, as a result of the high level of response to the scoping exercise opened in January 2016, the public hearings for this investigation will be divided into two phases, with a preliminary hearing due to take place on 16 January 2019.

Phase one will consider:

  • non recent abuse in residential schools for boys with behavioural/emotional problems (now closed) and in prep schools (now closed)
  • residential music schools
  • residential special schools

The process for the schools which have now closed will comprise a document-based review and a closed schools report will be published before the Phase one public hearings. It will be cited as evidence at those hearings, but it is not envisaged that oral evidence will be heard in relation to this aspect. The Inquiry does intend to hear evidence from witnesses in relation to the residential music and special school parts of Phase one.  The hearings are likely to take 2 weeks and to be heard towards the end of 2019.

All parties interested in applying for Core Participant status Phase one are invited to do so before 4pm on Friday 9 November 2018. This will entitle persons or institutions to be provided with disclosure of relevant evidence, have the right to make opening and closing statements at the hearings and to suggest lines of questioning/apply to ask questions of witnesses.

In addition to inviting applications for Core Participant status, the Inquiry has named a number of institutions which will be specifically considered in relation to phase one, including associations, regulators, the police/CPS and relevant experts.

The Inquiry will consider safeguarding best practice at these institutions and will not focus exclusively on failures to protect children in the past: some of those listed may not have reported and/or substantiated cases of child sexual abuse and evidence may focus on best practice on protecting children from abuse.

Phase two will be a thematic/issue based investigation of the residential schools' sector, the themes of which are yet to be decided, but those currently being considered are:

  • governance and management
  • inspection and monitoring
  • recruitment and termination of employment
  • whistleblowing and reporting
  • peer on peer abuse
  • the culture of schools vis a vis safeguarding including sexuality, gender, class, openness

The Inquiry has noted that some phase two issues also arise in day schools and it is likely that the investigation will need to look at some evidence relating to day schools to ensure it understands the sector fully.

The window for applying for Core Participant status for Phase two is not yet open and a further update will be published in due course.

If you would like further advice about the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, please contact Tabitha Cave on 0117 3145381.

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