Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'Just Reporting Issues Isn't Enough'

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'Just Reporting Issues Isn't Enough'

Article excerpt

Child protection expert says teachers must take direct action

The safety of pupils has come under the spotlight in recent weeks after David Cameron warned that teachers could face jail sentences if they failed to report concerns about their pupils' welfare outside of school.

But a leading child protection official has told TES that teachers and school leaders should do more than pick up the phone.

According to Alan Wood, president of the Association of Directors of Children's Services and director of children's services at Hackney Council, teachers should in some circumstances consider meeting parents themselves or arranging additional support.

He added that in more serious cases, headteachers could "use their authority" to ensure that their concerns had been followed up by the police or local authorities. Social workers should even be based in schools, he said.

"People think, 'This is a problem, [so] I'll give it to somebody'," he said. "Reportage is not enough. You can't simply say, 'I told someone and nothing happened.' There has to be more."

Mr Wood acknowledged that many schools already took their responsibilities seriously. But he said he was concerned that Mr Cameron's announcement could encourage teachers to pass the buck, and that the threat of prosecution could "encourage everybody working with children to simply pass concerns up the line".

"They'll think, 'We need to protect ourselves first by passing on an issue'," he said, adding that financially stretched social services departments were already facing a rise in referrals. …

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