31 March 2021


DfE launches helpline and safeguarding review

We welcome the Secretary of State’s announcement of a helpline administered by the NSPCC for sex abuse claims.

The helpline will enable victims’ voices to be heard, and action taken. We also welcome the announcement of a thematic review of safeguarding in schools to be led by Ofsted.  We look forward to contributing to that review from our experience and perspectives of independent school inspection.

These disturbing accounts require us all to reflect on the causes and the consequences of such unacceptable behaviour. We have read them with great sadness and acknowledge the courage of those who have posted.

The complex and challenging issues that have been raised require a multi-agency response across the education sector, and beyond. We welcome the opportunity to work with our colleagues at Ofsted to review safeguarding practice in schools, and formulate how best organisations can work together, and with parents, to respond to this complex and difficult subject. While acknowledging that this is a societal issue, and affects children in all types of schools, it is also important to reflect on what this means in our own context of inspecting independent schools. As part of our reflection we will be particularly keen to identify any factors that are sector specific.

We are currently conducting an internal review of ISI’s inspection of safeguarding in schools, with a particular focus on how we gather and use pupils’ views on inspection. We look forward to sharing our findings with Ofsted as part of the wider review.

ISI’s core purpose is to enable children to be safe, well-educated and to thrive. ISI fulfils this through its appointment by the Department for Education to inspect over 1200 independent schools in England which are members, through their Associations, of the Independent Schools’ Council. Ofsted inspects independent schools which are not members of ISC associations. Both ISI and Ofsted inspect against the Independent School Standards, which are set out in legislation, and statutory guidance on safeguarding.

The dedicated NSPCC helpline number is 0800 136 663