Protecting children and young people

Safe environment

Providing a safe and nurturing environment where children can learn and flourish is central to the ethos of all independent schools. As with state schools, every school has a trained Child Protection Co-ordinator, strict rules governing protection policies and procedures and is subject to the same exacting standards of safeguarding set by Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate.

There are a number of frameworks and organisations which play a role in the effective safeguarding of pupils at independent schools in Scotland:

1. The school’s ‘Proprietor’.

The ‘proprietor’ of an independent school is the person or body of persons responsible for the management of the school – typically the board of governors. The proprietor of each independent school has responsibilities in the area of safeguarding, for example they must ensure that:

  • the school has suitable child protection policies and procedures in place
  • the school operates safe recruitment procedures and makes sure that all appropriate checks are carried out on those who work with children
  • the school has suitable procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse, including a trained senior member of the school to take lead responsibility
  • all staff who work with children undertake regular child protection training
  • any deficiencies or weaknesses in regard to child protection arrangements are remedied without delay
  • an annual review of the school's policies and procedures relating to safeguarding is carried out.

2. The school’s Child Protection Co-ordinator (CPC).

All independent schools must have a senior member of staff designated as the Child Protection Co-ordinator. The school’s child protection policy will identify the CPC and set out his/her main areas of responsibility. The CPC receives additional training.  Concerns about a pupil will be raised with the CPC in the first instance, who will liaise with the local social work department and police authorities, as appropriate, in line with local Child Protection procedures.

3. The Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme.

Schools are required to ensure that all employees undertaking regulated work with children, young people and/or protected adults are members of the PVG scheme. (Following the introduction of the PVG scheme in October 2012, the retrospective checking period for all staff previously employed with Enhanced Disclosure certificates runs until October 2015).   Robust recruitment procedures promote the safeguarding of children.

4. Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC)

GIRFEC provides the overarching framework for children's services in Scotland.  In the context of GIRFEC everyone has a responsibility to do the right thing for each child and work towards a unified approach in order to safeguard each child.  Independent schools work together with local services to support the children and young people in their care.

5. Registrar of Independent Schools.

All independent schools in Scotland are required to be registered with the Registrar of Independent Schools. The Registrar is an official of the Scottish Government appointed by the Scottish Ministers.

6. Inspections.  

Independent schools are subject to inspections by Education Scotland.  Residential schools and schools with nursery provision are also inspected by the Care Inspectorate. This programme of inspections determines whether children's welfare is adequately safeguarded.

7. Scottish Council of Independent Schools

SCIS provides support and training in Child Protection through the SCIS Child Protection Guidance and CPD programme.