Schools

New legal duty on school staff to report child sexual abuse

Home Office outlines new safeguarding requirement - but few details confirmed and no date for introduction yet

Home Office outlines new safeguarding requirement - but few details confirmed and no date for introduction yet

sexual abuse Spielman Ofsted

Teachers will be legally required to report child sexual abuse if they know about it – or face sanctions such as being banned from the profession.

The new requirement will make mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse apply to anyone working in regulated activity relating to children in England – which suggests it would apply to all school staff. However a list has not yet been published. 

Under the plans, those who fail to do so will be barred from working with young people. Any staff intentionally blocking reporting could go to prison for seven years.

The Home Office confirmed the changes today. They will be introduced as amendments at report stage of the Criminal Justice Bill in the House of Commons and will apply in England and Wales.

The Home Office could not say when exactly the changes would be introduced, only that it would happen “shortly”.

It comes after the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse recommended the government make it a legal requirement for certain people to report child sexual abuse.

The Home Office published a call for evidence on how to implement the proposal last summer and ran a consultation on the proposals in November.

Few details announced so far

The consultation contained further details on the proposals, however the Home Office was last night unable to confirm whether all these would now be enacted.


The consultation had said teachers must make a report when “in the course of undertaking regulated activity or one of the specified roles, they receive a disclosure of child sexual abuse from a child or perpetrator; or personally witness a child being sexually abused”.

However the consultation’s proposals said a report “will not need to be made under the duty if those involved are between 13 and 16 years old, the relationship between them is consensual and there is no risk of harm present”.

Reports should be made to either the council or police “as soon as reasonably practicable”.

Teachers would also be “protected from any repercussions by their employer or wider organisation as a result of a making a report in good faith; or alerting appropriate authorities that a report which should have been made under the duty has been withheld”, the consultation said.

Concern over ‘negative impact’

In the call for evidence, “many respondents expressed concern around the potential negative impacts of implementing a new duty, from overburdening public services, lowering the quality of referrals to safeguarding agencies and reducing the amount of ‘safe spaces’ available to children and young people who may wish to discuss sexual abuse in confidence. 

There were also “concerns raised around the potential for a new duty to be misused through false and malicious reporting”, the Home Office consultation stated. 

But it added at the time that “detailed guidance on the implementation and operation of the mandatory reporting duty” would be published. 

The Home Office was unable to say last night when details of the new duty would be confirmed.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the school leaders’ union NAHT, said schools already have a “range of statutory duties when it comes to safeguarding”.

The statutory ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children, Keeping Children Safe in Education’ guidance already makes clear that professionals should report child sexual abuse. 

But the Home Office consultation stated the proposed duty “seeks to introduce appropriate sanctions to secure better compliance with these expectations”.

‘No excuse for turning blind eye’

The seven-year Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) found many sexual abuse victims had made disclosures to a responsible adult but no action was taken. 

A “common reason for these failures was the prioritisation of protecting an individual or institution from reputational damage over the safety and wellbeing of children”, the inquiry found.

James Cleverly

However on the new duty, Whiteman added it is “vital” government provide “sufficient funding” to ensure services like children’s social care “can cope with demand and are not forced to raise thresholds for intervention”.

The Home Office also planned to “evaluate the effectiveness of the mandatory reporting duty and the impact it has had on children and young people after a suitable period of operation”.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said: “There is no excuse for turning a blind eye to a child’s pain.

“Having listened to the voices of victims and survivors and reviewed the work of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, we are working at pace to get a mandatory reporting duty for child sexual abuse onto the statute book.”

Latest education roles from

Assistant Director: Apprenticeship Development and Employer Engagement | Birmingham City University

Assistant Director: Apprenticeship Development and Employer Engagement | Birmingham City University

Birmingham City University

Lecturer A Supported Internship Tutor

Lecturer A Supported Internship Tutor

Bolton College

Theatre Production Technician

Theatre Production Technician

Capital City College Group

Sessional Lecturer / Teacher / Assessor

Sessional Lecturer / Teacher / Assessor

Merton College

Stained Glass Variable Hours Tutor

Stained Glass Variable Hours Tutor

Richmond and Hillcroft Adult & Community College

Secondary Higher Level Teaching Assistant

Secondary Higher Level Teaching Assistant

Ark John Keats Academy

Sponsored posts

Sponsored post

Navigating NPQ Funding Cuts: Discover Leader Apprenticeships with NPQs

Recent cuts to NPQ funding, as reported by Schools Week, mean 14,000 schools previously eligible for scholarships now face...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

How do you tackle the MIS dilemma?

With good planning, attention to detail, and clear communication, switching MIS can be a smooth and straightforward process, but...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

How can we prepare learners for their future in an ever-changing world?

By focusing their curriculums on transferable skills, digital skills, and sustainability, schools and colleges can be confident that learners...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspiring Education Leaders for 10 Years

The 10th Inspiring Leadership Conference is to be held on 13 and 14 June 2024 at the ICC in...

SWAdvertorial

More from this theme

Schools

‘Children are our future and it’s for them that Tim dedicated his life’ 

Hundreds gather to remember the late Sir Tim Brighouse

Samantha Booth
Schools

Birmingham withdraws schools from £100m IT system

Heads were unable to make financial plans as glitches left them waiting months to learn the size of their...

Jack Dyson
Schools

Hinds says ‘all schools’ restrict phones, and 5 more key findings

Schools minister also says the 'option' of statutory mobile phone guidance remains

Freddie Whittaker
Schools

CST calls for policy changes over ‘unsustainable’ parent complaints

Academy body says rise in complaints is putting 'significant pressure on school leaders’

Jack Dyson

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *