Report Summary - Best practice in safeguarding in colleges


Report summary

Best practice in safeguarding in colleges

The framework for the inspection of further education and skills, which has been used for the inspection of colleges from September 2009, has a strong emphasis on keeping learners safe. Two judgements are made: first about how safe learners feel as part of evaluating outcomes for learners; and second, the effectiveness of safeguarding arrangements, as part of the leadership and management judgement. This survey of best practice is based on visits to 14 of the 15 colleges that received an outstanding grade for the leadership and management of their safeguarding arrangements in 2009/10. In almost all of these colleges, the grade awarded to learners’ feelings about safety was also outstanding. The colleges awarded outstanding grades included four general further education colleges, five sixth form colleges, five independent specialist colleges catering for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and one land-based further education college.

The key features that contributed to each college’s outstanding provision were replicated in almost all the colleges visited. All the colleges had given the highest priority to ensuring that their safeguarding provision was of high quality and supported learning. Senior managers had taken a strong lead, with responsibility and accountability for safeguarding arrangements identified clearly and at a senior level. Managers’ scrutiny of safeguarding practices was thorough, with frequent and purposeful monitoring and reporting. Good-quality training resulted in a workforce that was confident and well equipped to promote safeguarding in a sensible and proportionate way. Safeguarding expertise had been developed well in key managers, including through work with a wide range of external organisations.

Staff knew learners well and made effective use of risk assessments to keep learners safe. The curriculum was used well to promote safety, in part by exposing learners to the risks that they were likely to encounter in their working lives and educating them about how to deal with them, as well as increasing their knowledge of safety matters. Education about internet safety had been given high priority with recognition of the need to keep reviewing this aspect in the light of ever-changing technology. A ‘zero tolerance’ approach to lapses in safety precautions was reinforced effectively at all levels of management. Site security arrangements at all the colleges had received careful consideration and were effective while maintaining an open and friendly environment. Safe practices were promoted well in lessons and other learning settings. Arrangements for security checks on staff were robust and comprehensive. Managers used a range of information sources well to keep up to date with legislative changes.

Learners in all the colleges visited spoke highly of the commitment of staff to ensure their safety and of how much they valued this. Individual learners gave good examples of how staff had helped them to develop a better awareness of their own safety. Learners generally had a good understanding of what constituted safeguarding in its broadest sense. They reinforced the view that safeguarding was promoted effectively in their colleges. However, it was noticeable that formal consultation of learners about safeguarding arrangements was a less strong feature than other aspects. Safeguarding provision was evaluated accurately and effectively through self-assessment, although there was a tendency for this to be based on compliance with legal requirements and records of the safeguarding provision that was in place, rather than a clear evaluation of the impact of actions taken to ensure learners’ safety.

Key findings

Main report published 11 April 2011

Best practice in safeguarding in colleges

April 2011, No. 100239