The Department for Education has today finally launched its response to the National Safeguarding Panel’s report, which was delivered in April of this year.
NASS is generally rather underwhelmed by the response and feel it does not go far enough to support providers and the services that work with them to ensure that the abuse experienced by children in Hesley settings never happens again.
From our contact with other SEND colleagues, this view appears to be shared by many. The bulk of the response either mentions initiatives which are already planned via either the SEND and AP Improvement plan and Stable Homes or refers to further work to be done with Ofsted, Care Quality Commission, local authorities and others.
We are pleased to note that the Government did not reject any of the Panel’s recommendations, although the majority are ‘accepted in principal’ rather than in full and a number of the solutions offered refer back to existing services and processes which, presumably, are not currently strong enough to keep children safe. We would have liked to see further, dedicated investment aimed at disabled children.
Providers have been asked to address staff recruitment, retention and training. Our experience is that they have been trying hard to do this for many years but face huge external challenges as a result of the low pay and low status attributed to residential childcare. NASS has long lobbied for a national strategy for the SEND and residential childcare workforces to enable this and we will continue to push for this.
Read the Government's response and letters here: Safeguarding children with disabilities in residential settings: government response - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)