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MPs warn of Academy safeguarding confusion

MPs have warned that pupil safety is being put at risk due to confusion over safeguarding arrangements for academies.

The public accounts committee suggests that the Department for Education’s (DfE) increasing focus on autonomy is confusing the issue.

 Its Schools Oversight and Intervention inquiry report cites a National Audit Office survey which found that, out of 87 local authorities, 13 said they did not monitor academies’ safeguarding arrangements and a further 13 said they would not intervene directly in an academy if they had concerns about pupil safety.

They also found that confusion over the respective roles of councils and regional school commissioners is causing “significant gaps” in the DfE’s knowledge of the performance of individual schools.

 It has warned that the gaps, together with “weak” oversight arrangements, can mask problems – like those found during the Trojan Horse inquiry into allegations of extremism in schools in Birmingham last year – until “serious damage” has been done.

A spokeswoman for the DfE rejected the findings of the report.

She said: “We have already intervened in more than 1,000 schools over the past four years, pairing them up with excellent sponsors to give pupils the best chances.”

“That compares with the years and even decades of neglect many schools suffered under local authority control.