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IICSA Residential Schools Investigation Update

on Monday, 11 November 2019.

The hearings in the first phase of the Residential Schools Investigation (RSI) concluded on Friday 11 October 2019. What have we learned so far?

Summary of the Scope of the RSI

The scope of the RSI is to examine the nature and extent of, and institutional responses to, child sexual abuse across the broad spectrum of residential schools, including schools in the state and independent sectors, and schools for children with disabilities and/or special educational needs.

The Inquiry is exploring how schools and other agencies respond to allegations of sexual abuse by school staff and addressing broad questions of school culture, governance, leadership, training and recruitment.

The Inquiry suggested a thematic/issue based investigation and selected case studies for focused investigation in order to illuminate these issues.

The investigation has been divided into two phases.

Phase 1 is concerned with:

  • Historical abuse in schools which are no longer open or under new management.
  • Specialist music schools.
  • Special schools.

Phase 2 is concerned with both day and residential schools (albeit that the investigation is stated to refer to residential schools), the Inquiry having recognised the need to explore CSA in day schools.

Phase 1 Update

The public hearing of Phase 1 took place between 30 September and 11 October 2019.

The hearing started with the opening statements by those core participants who wished to address the panel and then moved on to consider a document-based review of closed schools. Live evidence associated with CSA in music and special schools was then heard, followed by closing submissions. Transcripts of the proceedings can be accessed on the Inquiry website.

In the course of the hearing, evidence was adduced from representatives from:

  • Schools falling into the above categories.
  • The DfE, Ofsted, ISI, Home Office and DBS.
  • Independent associations, including BSA and AEGIS.
  • The NSPCC, the Council for Disabled Children, Royal Mencap Society and National Autistic Society.
  • Experts Marcus Erooga and Professor Simon Hackett.

Throughout the hearing the Inquiry heard calls for:

  • A duty of candour and/or mandatory reporting obligation to be introduced
  • The adoption of a neutral reporting system relating to safeguarding ie a reduction in the threshold for reporting
  • Proposals for national standardised safeguarding training for proprietors and school governors across both the state and independent sectors.
  • The introduction of minimum standards or national training for DSLs and/or LADOs.
  • Reform of the DBS system, with particular emphasis on the 'supervision exemption'.
  • Reforms of the inspection systems and/or amendments and/or improvements to regulations and guidance, including the relevant National Minimum Standards and KCSIE.
  • More scrutiny of the arrangements for proprietor-owned independent schools, including the establishment of a supervisory body.
  • A review of the regulations relating to educational guardians.
  • Improvements in relationship and sex education and more guidance in relation to this for SEND pupils.
  • A review of the role of the 'independent listener' in independent schools, perhaps along the lines of independent visitors in children's homes.
  • The establishment of a register of public liability insurers and/or an insurer-funded compensation scheme of last resort for abuse claims.

Phase 2

On 25 September, the Inquiry published an update note.

Phase 2 will continue the thematic/issue based approach, this time focussing on both day and residential schools. The schools which will be specifically considered include a state school, a primary school and a fee-paying residential independent school.

The themes to be considered are:

  • Governance and management.
  • Inspection and monitoring.
  • Recruitment and termination of employment.
  • Whistleblowing and reporting.
  • The culture of schools in respect of safeguarding.

The Inquiry will also examine the processes in Wales given the different legislation, processes and manner of inspection.

What is the Timescale for Phase 2?

The Inquiry invited any individual or organisation who wished to be designated as a Core Participant (CP) to apply before 4pm on Friday 18 October 2019. A preliminary hearing will be held on 14 January 2020.

Phase 2 hearings are then scheduled to take place between 11-22 May 2020.

Next Steps

The Inquiry will then publish a single report into Phase 1 and Phase 2 in early 2021 in which it will set out its findings, lessons learned and recommendations to improve child protection and safeguarding in England and Wales.

For more information regarding the residential schools investigation update, please contact Tabitha Cave on 0117 314 5381 or Natalie Wargent on 0117 314 5433, in our Regulatory Compliance team, or complete the form below.


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