City council 'could lead the way' in child protection - The Coventry Observer

17th Aug, 2022

City council 'could lead the way' in child protection

Coventry Editorial 8th May, 2014 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

COVENTRY could become a model for other authorities to follow for safeguarding children, a child abuse campaigner has claimed.

Jonathan West said the city council had the ability to show others the way by penning a common safeguarding policy for all schools to follow.

He branded a meeting with council players – held last week – as ‘interesting, constructive and very positive’.

Mr West had been heavily critical of city schools as part of his own investigative work into their safeguarding policies. Only a handful met all the criteria for perfect child protection policies while many – including Little Heath Primary School – scored fewer than five out of ten in his scoring system.

The Foleshill school was attended by Daniel Pelka, the four-year-old murdered by mother and step-father.

But Mr West said the council had proved to him that they were serious about righting past wrongs.

“They know they need to put a serious amount of effort into doing safeguarding properly.” he told the Observer.

“I suggested that if they get a common policy rolled out then that has a lot of benefits.

“It means they have best practice in place everywhere – in writing at least – and it simplifies training because you can tailor it to the specific policy they know is in place.

“It also means that as staff progress from school to school they’ll all be familiar with the safeguarding policy – something that will help avoid the situation at Little Heath when no-one knew what they were doing.

“I would like to see a situation where Coventry – in terms of safeguarding – can be a model for other schools to follow.

“That’s the objective so the non-reporting of abuse is essentially unthinkable.”

Mr West is a supporter of Daniel’s Law – a campaign named after the tragic city schoolboy that calls on the reporting of child abuse to be made mandatory for professionals working with children.

Campaign spearhead Paula Barrow joined him at the meeting along with education cabinet member Coun David Kershaw, top officers David Haley and Roger Lickfold, and safeguarding board chair Amy Weir.

Mr West added the group had told him the council was now working on a model for all schools that would be written as if mandatory reporting existed.

“We have to keep pressing to ensure all the improvements go through because what really matters is that children in Coventry are safer.”

The group are set to meet again after the results of a school safeguarding survey are published.

To sign the Daniel’s Law campaign petition visit change.org/danielslaw

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