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Demonstrating Good Practice: Commissioning an Independent Safeguarding Review

As of this month (Feb 2024), 40% of Local Authority Children’s Services were rated as 'Inadequate' or 'Requires Improvement' (Ofsted Inspection Data), and only 18% were rated as ‘Outstanding’. From a school/college leaders’ perspective we know that this presents a real dilemma given that schools/colleges need to evidence their work to support their Local Safeguarding Children Partnership, and need to ensure their safeguarding arrangements are as effective as possible given their importance and that it is the first thing that inspectors will scrutinise.

Aside from being inspected yourself, how can you ensure your safeguarding provision is effective when following the guidance of a local authority rated as RI or inadequate?

How we can help

At Brightcore Consultancy we have worked with over 850 schools and colleges nationally to support their safeguarding and mental health provision. Many of these settings have benefitted from our high quality, in depth external safeguarding review of their safeguarding practice and procedures, which includes recommendations based on our high level of expertise, and nationally observed exemplary practice. We act as a critical friend providing expert advice and guidance as to how to improve provision and evidence a highly-effective whole school/college approach to safeguarding.

The Ofsted Inspection handbook (Updated Jan 2024) refers to inspectors evaluating your safeguarding culture in the following sections:

382. Inspectors will evaluate the extent to which there is an effective whole-school approach to safeguarding.

384. Inspectors will look for evidence of effective safeguarding practice and the impact of this practice on all pupils. Examine how a school is implementing its safeguarding policies and processes effectively, and how it keeps them under review.

378. All schools should have an open and positive culture around safeguarding that puts pupils’ interests first. This means they:

·       protect pupils from serious harm, both online and offline

·       are vigilant, maintaining an attitude of ‘it could happen here’

·       are open and transparent, sharing information with others and actively seeking expert advice when required

·       ensure that all those who work with pupils are trained well so that they understand their responsibilities and the systems and processes that the school operates and are empowered to ‘speak out’ where there may be concerns.

·       actively seek and listen to the views and experiences of pupils, staff and parents, taking prompt but proportionate action to address any concerns, where needed.

·       have appropriate child protection arrangements, which:

o   identify pupils who may need early help, and who are at risk of harm or have been harmed.

o   secure the help that pupils need and, if required, refer in a timely way to those who have the expertise to help.

o   manage safe recruitment and allegations about adults who may be a risk to pupils.

·       are receptive to challenge and reflective of their own practices to ensure that safeguarding policies, systems and processes are kept under continuous review.

Not forgetting that paragraph 109. (Information that schools must provide by 8am on the day of inspection) now includes:

·       ‘any reports from any external evaluation of the school’

Safeguarding Review meeting

What to expect in our Comprehensive Safeguarding Review

We understand that every education setting is different, and your safeguarding review should reflect your specific circumstances. However, our standard full safeguarding review is exceptionally thorough and typically encompasses a three-day process, including a full day on-site. Here's a glimpse of what this comprehensive safeguarding review entails:


  1. A full Day Pre-Visit Website and Policy Analysis: Our experts will conduct a thorough and detailed pre-visit compliance review of your entire website and all available policies relating to safeguarding, which, aside from the obvious policies, will also include the Health and Safety Policy, SEND Policy, Exclusion Policy, Medical Needs Policy, Attendance Policy, LAC Policy, Anti-Bullying Policy, Physical Intervention Policy, Data Protection and Retention Policy, safeguarding information for visitors, and the Online Safety Policy and Acceptable Use Agreement Forms.

  2. Evaluation of Your Annual Safeguarding Audit and Action Plan: We'll assess your annual safeguarding audit and action plan, which can be submitted either in advance or on the day of the review.

A full day on-site (or longer if you prefer)

  1. Meetings with Key Stakeholders to evaluate your whole-school approach to safeguarding. This will include: meetings with various key stakeholders within your organisation, including the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL), the IT lead, senior administrative officer/HR lead, the Safeguarding Governor/Trustee, the PSHE/RSHE curriculum lead, the Educational Visits Coordinator, the Designated Senior Mental Health Lead, the SENDCO, the Attendance Officer, a sample of staff, a sample of pupils/students, and we'll also tour your site.

  2. Review of Documentation: Our team will review critical documentation, including the Single Central Record, case management, the recording of concerns, training logs.

  3. Evaluation of Safeguarding Management: We'll delve into how your school manages the safeguarding agenda, looking at roles, responsibilities, and their alignment with job descriptions.

Following the visit 

We will spend a further day producing two highly detailed reports for you which will be sent through within an agreed timeframe (usually 1 week)

  • One report summarising each of the meetings and areas reviewed together with a clear list of action points and good practice recommendations relating to each meeting

  • A second report, detailing the evidence seen relating to each of nearly 250 different aspects of your provision that have been reviewed during the process, RAG Rated with clear detail bas to exactly what needs to be improved to demonstrate effectiveness in each area.

By the end of the process, you will have a thorough external appraisal of the effectiveness of your whole school approach to safeguarding, a clear understanding of the areas of good practice seen, and detailed recommendations relating to possible improvements based on (nationally observed exemplary practice) relating to each of the following areas:

  • Policies & Procedures

  • Leadership & Management

  • Oversight and Safeguarding Governance

  • Incident management & Record Keeping

  • Recruitment & Selection Procedures (including a thorough SCR check)

  • Training & Staff Knowledge

  • The Voice of the Child

  • Online Safety (including a review of Filtering and Monitoring Provision)

  • The Safeguarding of additionally vulnerable pupils (including your SEND & Mental Health Provision)

  • Parental Engagement

  • Attendance Procedures relating to Safeguarding.

  • Teaching & Learning – Safeguarding Education

  • Site Safety & Security

Students learning online safety

Don't just take our word for it

Please see some of the many testimonials from school leaders who have used our services here.

If you would like more information or to book a review please get in touch.


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