Ultimately it is the Government that decides on all legislation. It is then the role of Local Authorities to agree on policies and guidelines, and then the duty of the school to interpret and implement these policies and guidelines.
Children’s Act 2004
In 1999, a young girl called Victoria Climbie was brought to England by her guardian. During the months that followed she was tortured by her guardian, and the guardian’s partner, until in February 2000 she was murdered. A post mortem found 128 separate injuries on her body. A public inquiry into her death found that during her 8 month stay in this country she was known to 4 social services departments, 3 housing departments, 2 child protection police teams, 2 hospitals, 2 churches and 1 NSPCC centre. However the Laming Report of 2003, found that none of these services were working together to protect Victoria’s welfare, and Victoria tragically ‘slipped through the net’. The report resulted in a new government green paper known as ‘Every Child Matters’, and then a piece of government legislation, known as the Children’s Act 2004.
The Children’s Act 2004 states that “the interests of children and young people are paramount in all considerations of welfare and safeguarding and that safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility.” It called for more accountability for all services involved with the welfare of children, and lead to the integration of children’s services. It also lead to the establishment of Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards, which have statutory powers to ensure that all services are working together to protect vulnerable children.
Another important feature of the Children’s Act was the development of the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) which is used in a multiagency approach when there are concerns about the welfare of a child, to enable early intervention.
The Children’s Act 2004 raised the priority of the safeguarding of children, and stated that ‘all children deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential’. It also set out five outcomes which are key to children’s wellbeing. These are as follows:
1. Stay safe 2. Be healthy 3. Enjoy and achieve 4. Make a positive contribution 5. Achieve economic wellbeing
Section 142 of the Education Act 2002
This piece of legislation enables the Secretary of State to prohibit certain people from working in educational settings. It is commonly known as ‘List 99’, and details any adult who has been convicted of a serious sexual offence against children since 1995. In addition, it also includes the names of those convicted of violent behavior towards children, drug offences and violent crime, and of adults engaged in drug or alcohol abuse or suffering from mental illness. Anyone applying to work in a school has their name checked against this list by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). (ISA was formed after the Bichard Inquiry into the ‘Soham Murders’ where two young girls were abducted and killed by the school care taker, who was known to the police as a danger to children, but who had passed a CRB check) It is important to note that List 99 only contains the details of those prohibited from working in schools. The ISA Children’s Barred List contains the name of those who are prevented from working with children in any setting.
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989
This is an international piece of legislation which states that:
“Children have the right to be protected from all forms of abuse. They must be safe from harm. They must be given proper care by the those looking after them.”
It contains 54 articles detailing the human rights of every child aged under 18. It contains civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and details what every child needs for a happy, safe and…