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Adult learning and skills: For adult learning and skills providers

Safeguarding children and young people

Ofsted and our inspection partners carry out all the required employment checks for staff who visit nurseries, childminders, schools and colleges as part of an inspection. This includes appropriate employment checks and an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) disclosure.

All HMI, Regulatory and Additional Inspectors carry official Ofsted photo identification badges so that schools and other providers know they have passed these rigorous safeguarding checks.

Ofsted inspectors work to government legislation and statutory guidance, which is based on the Department for Education's Safeguarding children and safer recruitment in education.

Below you can find additional advice and FAQs.

If you want to contact us to report concerns about practices and procedures for the safeguarding of children and young people in local authority services go to the Whistleblower hotline page.

Additional advice and FAQs

When the guidance refers to Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks for under 18s, does this refer to all staff or just teaching staff?

Are 16–18 children and young people resident in land-based colleges covered in the boarding inspection arrangements?

How does the safeguarding guidance fit in with the complaints process where Ofsted does not take action on complaints about individuals, and if parents do not give sufficient details the issue is not referred to social services?

Where contracts may contain vulnerable young people/previously looked after children, should CRB checks be in place?

What about situations where providers do not know their population because of confidentiality/safeguarding precautions for potential vulnerable learners?

What are the consequences for a provider of being judged inadequate as regards safeguarding – apart from having the inspection judgement published in their inspection report? What is the required speed of their response to this judgement? Who checks that they have responded effectively?

The Ofsted guidance on training for staff refers to Local Safeguarding Children Board level 1 and level 2 training. What do these levels mean and does it imply that the training has to come from the Local Safeguarding Children Board?

How does Ofsted inspect safeguarding when a provider subcontracts all its provision to other colleges or providers? Does Ofsted inspect how a provider checks the colleges’/providers’ arrangements, or does Ofsted inspect how each college/provider checks its arrangements?

How will an inspector know that the provider has checked the identity of staff as they start work? How can an inspector check that the provider does this correctly and that all the provider’s staff are who they claim to be?

Would inspectors expect to see that providers working with vulnerable adults have undertaken Protection of Vulnerable Adults scheme training as part of safeguarding arrangements – even though providers do not have to CRB check staff?

Is a CRB check required for a tutor from overseas who works with vulnerable adults and under 18s? What should inspectors expect to find in a language college employing staff from overseas with a visa working with vulnerable adults and under 18s. Other countries do not have the same CRB requirements nor allow access to records if they are kept.

What requirement is there on a work-based learning provider for 16–18 year olds to ensure that work-based learning supervisors have been CRB checked?

For safeguarding, where does a provider’s jurisdiction start and finish; for example, outside the college campus or travelling to a work placement?

Are prisoners over the age of 18 classed as vulnerable adults/learners?

The grade characteristic for outstanding in safeguarding uses the words 'frequent' and 'intensive' to describe the people who need to be CRB checked and trained. What does this mean?

Is Ofsted asking for employers with apprentices to be CRB checked?

Are there safeguarding courses that Ofsted approves of?

An Ofsted inspection service provider is charging for safeguarding training? What is Ofsted’s view on this?

What is the difference between a health and safety issue and a safeguarding issue?

Can Ofsted describe why a limitation might be made on the overall effectiveness grade if a college is graded as adequate in safeguarding?

How can a college get a grade one for safeguarding?

We are a higher education institute with a further education college within the organisation. One of our campuses is shared between further education and higher education provision. I checked with the Criminal Records Bureau and we cannot carry out Criminal Records Bureau checks on staff unless they meet the strict regulated activity definition, and obviously the vast majority of our higher education lecturers and staff do not meet the frequency or intensity criterion. The exception would be if there was a group with vulnerable adults who were not incidental to the group, but the Criminal Records Bureau says that none of these staff are eligible for checks either. How can we best meet Ofsted's requirements whilst ensuring that we keep within the rules of the Criminal Records Bureau?

Is it still a requirement for administrators in services regulated and/or inspected by Ofsted to be CRB checked if they have access to children’s records. We have been told by the CRB that these staff are no longer eligible for such a check.

Q. When the guidance refers to Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks for under 18s, does this refer to all staff or just teaching staff?

A. The requirement for enhanced CRB checks in further education applies only to staff who are regularly caring for, training, supervising or being solely in charge of under 18-year-olds. The definition of ‘regularly’ was clarified in December 2009 by Sir Roger Singleton and the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.

Exceptions are made for staff in this category who have been in uninterrupted employment – defined as ‘with no break in employment of longer than three months’ – since before April 2002 when CRB came into being. These staff should have been subject to a List 99* check.

There is no requirement for governors to have been CRB checked, unless they regularly take on such a role.

While colleges may consider it good practice to CRB-check all staff, this is in fact counter to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, since it requires disclosure of offences that are not relevant to posts not classified as above. This does not apply to schools, where all staff are subject to the same checks.

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Q. Are 16–18 children and young people resident in land-based colleges covered in the boarding inspection arrangements?

A. Land-based provision with residential accommodation should already be covered by social care inspection. Ofsted is currently piloting arrangements to inspect education and welfare provision in colleges with residential accommodation as single inspection events.

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Q. How does the safeguarding guidance fit in with the complaints process where Ofsted does not take action on complaints about individuals, and if parents do not give sufficient details the issue is not referred to social services?

A. If Ofsted receives a complaint relating to an individual child that indicates safeguarding issues, or about a possible abuser, this will be referred immediately to Ofsted’s national compliance, investigation and enforcement section; the section will work to ensure that these details are provided for the relevant authorities – the local authority designate officer or the police

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Q. Where contracts may contain vulnerable young people/previously looked after children, should CRB checks be in place?

A. There is currently no statutory requirement for CRB checks for training provider staff working with vulnerable adults, but inspectors should expect to see evidence of a risk assessment and policies/procedures to safeguard learners as outlined in National Institute of Adult Continuing Education and Department for Education (NIACE) Safer practice, safer learning guidance. Most funding bodies will have inserted a section in provider contracts requiring providers to adopt similar approaches for vulnerable adults as for children – that is, under 18-year-olds.

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Q. What about situations where providers do not know their population because of confidentiality/safeguarding precautions for potential vulnerable learners?

A. See the above FAQ; it is important to be aware of the guidance about who may be defined as a vulnerable adult, and in what circumstances they would not – for example, a person with a disability who is using a service that it not specifically targeted at disabled people.

However, inspectors will expect that providers have taken all reasonable measures to identify those of their learners who may be vulnerable as part of the evidence about promoting safeguarding in the leadership and management inspection judgement.

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Q. What are the consequences for a provider of being judged inadequate as regards safeguarding – apart from having the inspection judgement published in their inspection report? What is the required speed of their response to this judgement? Who checks that they have responded effectively?

A. Where a judgement of inadequate is awarded for either of the two safeguarding judgements, it is most unlikely that the overall effectiveness of the provider will be better than satisfactory. Where a judgement of satisfactory is awarded for either of the two safeguarding judgements, it is unlikely that the overall effectiveness of the provider will be better than good.

Where safeguarding is judged inadequate, a partial re-inspection of this aspect will take place at the earliest opportunity, normally within eight months of the most recent full inspection. This is because of the high importance Ofsted attaches to assuring the safeguarding of learners. The re-inspection visit is likely to be unannounced.

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Q. The Ofsted guidance on training for staff refers to Local Safeguarding Children Board level 1 and level 2 training. What do these levels mean and does it imply that the training has to come from the Local Safeguarding Children Board?

A. We have changed the draft grade characteristics to remove the statement that all staff should have been trained to level 2 for the provider to be judged ’good’ for safeguarding, as we realised that this was confusing for a sector used to NVQ levels.

However, all staff in regular contact with children should have been trained to a basic level. The designated member of staff for safeguarding should have received further training, and had more frequent updates.

These levels refer to guidance on the content of training that was originally provided by the Department for Education and Skills in 2006 in relation to Working Together to Safeguard Children. The level descriptor, and the source of the training, is less important than the content of the training. The key judgement is whether it meets the needs of the staff who have been through it.

Following a risk assessment, providers should assess what level of training is appropriate for different types of staff; providers can then use any suitable training provider to deliver this training for their staff. The reference to Local Safeguarding Children Board level 2 was intended as an example, but other courses are available.

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Q. How does Ofsted inspect safeguarding when a provider subcontracts all its provision to other colleges or providers? Does Ofsted inspect how a provider checks the colleges’/providers’ arrangements, or does Ofsted inspect how each college/provider checks its arrangements?

A. The provider is responsible for ensuring subcontractors are making the appropriate safeguarding arrangements; the provider should be able to demonstrate to inspectors that it is doing this rigorously. Inspectors can test this during discussions with subcontractor staff and learners and visits to subcontractor sites. It is also important to refer to the local funding body or National Employer Service (NES) contract section on working with subcontractors.

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Q. How will an inspector know that the provider has checked the identity of staff as they start work? How can an inspector check that the provider does this correctly and that all the provider’s staff are who they claim to be?

A. The provider should be able show the inspector evidence that they do this; for example. a spreadsheet showing which documents the provider has seen and checked for all staff.

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Q. Would inspectors expect to see that providers working with vulnerable adults have undertaken Protection of Vulnerable Adults scheme training as part of safeguarding arrangements – even though providers do not have to CRB check staff?

A. The Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) scheme*, now the Vulnerable Adults’ List, is a list of individuals barred from working with vulnerable adults. Like List 99* with children, the Vulnerable Adults’ List will act as a statutory ban on those individuals who have harmed vulnerable adults in their care. Access is restricted to regulated social care providers only. There is no training as such associated with the Vulnerable Adults’ List, but it would be good practice for providers to be aware of this.

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Q. Is a CRB check required for a tutor from overseas who works with vulnerable adults and under 18s? What should inspectors expect to find in a language college employing staff from overseas with a visa working with vulnerable adults and under 18s. Other countries do not have the same CRB requirements nor allow access to records if they are kept.

A. The Department for Education guidance Safeguarding children and safer recruitment in education makes the requirements very clear and applies to tutors working with children; the statutory requirements do not extend to tutors working with vulnerable adults.

  • 3.49. List 99* and CRB Disclosures and where appropriate PoCA* [Protection of Children Act] List checks must be completed on overseas staff. In addition, criminal records information should be sought from countries where individuals have worked or lived.
  • 4.9. …in the case of CRB Disclosures, the certificate must be obtained before, or as soon as practicable after, appointment.
  • 4.66. In addition all staff who have lived outside the United Kingdom and were recruited since March 2002 should have CRB Disclosures undertaken where this has not been done, unless the individual had within the three months before his or her appointment worked in a school in England in a post which brought him or her into regular contact with children (or any post they were appointed to since 12 May 2006); or an FE college in England in a position which involved the provision of education and regularly caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of children or young people under the age of 18.
  • 4.67. CRB Disclosures will not generally show offences committed by individuals whilst living abroad (except in the case of service personnel and their families, as detailed in paragraph 4.73). Therefore, in addition to an enhanced CRB Disclosure, additional checks such as obtaining certificates of good conduct from relevant embassies or police forces are necessary. The level of information contained in these certificates varies from country to country: some are complete extracts from the criminal record; others are partial.
  • 4.69. In the case of staff who have lived abroad, if, in the opinion of the local authority, school, or FE college, the CRB Disclosure is unlikely to provide sufficient information, based on how long the individual has been in the UK, then other checks, including obtaining certificates of good conduct from relevant embassies or police forces as appropriate, must be completed prior to the individual starting work or volunteering activity.

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Q. What requirement is there on a work-based learning provider for 16-18 year olds to ensure that work-based learning supervisors have been CRB checked?

A. Training organisations or employers taking responsibility for non-emplyed under 18s on a long-term placement – that is, lasting more than a month – should be asked to make a commitment to safeguarding their welfare by endorsing an agreed child protection policy or statement of principles. Staff in the workplace who teach, train, or are in sole charge of non-employed under-18s as part of their normal job role should be CRB checked.

A work-based learning provider will decide, after a robust risk assessment, who these individuals are likely to be. In most instances this is likely to be a very small number of staff.

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Q. For safeguarding, where does a provider’s jurisdiction start and finish; for example, outside the college campus or travelling to a work placement?

A. If a learner aged under 18 or a vulnerable adult is travelling from college/provider site to a workplace site during the college day then the college should take reasonable steps to ensure their safety; for example, making sure the workplace is expecting them and that the workplace lets the college know if the learner does not arrive.

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Q. Are prisoners over the age of 18 classed as vulnerable adults/learners?

A. The Vetting and Barring Scheme guidance published in October 2009 gives a full list of those who are defined as vulnerable adults. Under section 2.31, these include, among others, any person who is aged 18 or over and who is:

  • detained in lawful custody in a prison, remand centre, young offender institution, secure training centre or attendance centre, or under the powers of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • under the supervision of the probation services.

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Q. The grade characteristic for outstanding in safeguarding uses the words 'frequent' and 'intensive' to describe the people who need to be CRB checked and trained. What does this mean?

A. This has the same meaning as in the Vetting and Barring Scheme guidance in October 2009. The definition of ‘frequent’ and ‘intensive’ was clarified in December 2009 by Sir Roger Singleton and the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.

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Q. Is Ofsted asking for employers with apprentices to be CRB checked?

A. It is not down to Ofsted to ask for something. The legislation is a matter for the Department for Education; our interpretation would be that CRB checks are not currently required for any other employees working in any role with the apprentice, whether alongside, training, mentoring or managing. It is up to the employer to decide, on the basis of a risk assessment, whether they wish anyone among their own staff or from a third-party provider delivering off-the-job training to the apprentice to be CRB checked.

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Q. Are there safeguarding courses that Ofsted approves of?

A. Unfortunately, this is not an area where Ofsted can give advice. This is a commercial decision and it would be inappropriate for us to comment. There may well be an opportunity for the Learning and Skills Improvement Service to provide suitable training for sector members.

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Q. An Ofsted inspection service provider is charging for safeguarding training? What is Ofsted’s view on this?

A. This is not a matter that Ofsted can comment on. Inspection service providers (ISPs) are commercial organisations that work in partnership with Ofsted. Some ISPs have training divisions that are kept totally separate from their inspection activities. However, ISPs should not provide training in areas where there is a conflict of interest with their inspection activity. If any college feels there is a conflict of interest, they should let us know with full details.

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Q. What is the difference between a health and safety issue and a safeguarding issue?

A. This very much depends on one’s definition of health and safety. In general, safeguarding is much more encompassing and concerns activities/issues that affect the welfare of children and young people. In the Common inspection framework for further education and skills 2009, judgements about health and safety will normally be made under A3 (How safe do learners feel) with broader safeguarding issues judged under C3.

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Q. Can Ofsted describe why a limitation might be made on the overall effectiveness grade if a college is graded as adequate in safeguarding?

A. Inspection is always a judgement call. There is no ready reckoner to explain all the circumstances that might affect such a judgement, but the illustrative grade characteristics are helpful in giving colleges a guide.

The safeguarding grades will contribute to and may limit the grade for overall effectiveness in the following ways:

  • if a provider is not meeting their legal duties this should prompt a judgement of inadequate for safeguarding
  • where a judgement of inadequate is awarded for either of the two safeguarding judgements (leadership and management or outcomes for learners) it is most unlikely that the overall effectiveness of the provider will be better than satisfactory.
  • where a judgement of satisfactory is awarded for safeguarding it is unlikely that the overall effectiveness of the provider will be better than good.

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Q. How can a college get a grade one for safeguarding?

There have been several college inspections where safeguarding was judged to be outstanding. Therefore there are several recently published reports that give a flavour of this and provide some illustration of outstanding safeguarding practice.

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Q. We are a higher education institute with a further education college within the organisation. One of our campuses is shared between further education and higher education provision. I checked with the Criminal Records Bureau and we cannot carry out Criminal Records Bureau checks on staff unless they meet the strict regulated activity definition, and obviously the vast majority of our higher education lecturers and staff do not meet the frequency or intensity criterion. The exception would be if there was a group with vulnerable adults who were not incidental to the group, but the Criminal Records Bureau says that none of these staff are eligible for checks either. How can we best meet Ofsted's requirements whilst ensuring that we keep within the rules of the Criminal Records Bureau?

Ofsted’s itself has no requirements as far as Criminal Records Bureau checks are concerned – all such requirements are set by the Government and will be definitively interpreted by the Criminal Records Bureau. Our role is to check that an organisation understands, and is meeting, these government requirements.

There are currently no statutory requirements in relation to the Criminal Records Bureau checks for people working with vulnerable adults in education – whether they are in ‘open’ provision or targeted provision. This means that no one is working in a regulated activity, and therefore no one is required to have a Criminal Records Bureau clearance.

Ofsted inspectors will understand that this is the position when they make their judgements.

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Q. Is it still a requirement for administrators in services regulated and/or inspected by Ofsted to be CRB checked if they have access to children’s records. We have been told by the CRB that these staff are no longer eligible for such a check.

A. Administrators who do not have regular contact with children under 18 but who have access to health, educational and social services records of children are engaged in what is currently defined under the Vetting and Barring Scheme as controlled activity. This means that they currently require an enhanced CRB disclosure certificate.

The Government announced in February 2011 that it proposes to repeal controlled activity in the Protection of Freedoms Bill, which is currently going through parliament. If the repeal is approved by Parliament, it could come into force in 2012 and after that point enhanced CRB checks would not be required for administrators. However, until the repeal of the category of controlled activities takes effect in 2012, administrators who have access to health, educational or social services records of children in the services that we inspect will still need them.

Ofsted understands that the CRB are already advising local authorities that administrators who are employed in posts where there is no regular contact with children or vulnerable adults but who have access to sensitive records are not eligible for CRB checks. We have contacted the DfE to seek clarification on this specific issue and will update this answer when we have a decision. In the meantime, in recognition that this is a transitional period, inspectors will not penalise services for non-compliance with the current controlled activity requirement where they have received this response from the CRB.

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*On 12 October 2009, the three current barred lists (List 99, Protection of Children Act and Protection of Vulnerable Adults scheme) were replaced by two new barred lists administered by the Independent Safeguarding Authority: the Children’s List and the Vulnerable Adults’ List.