Child Protection Policies

– in the Scottish Parliament on 22nd September 2022.

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Photo of Elizabeth Smith Elizabeth Smith Conservative

7. To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it is having with local authorities regarding child protection policies in schools. (S6O-01370)

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

All children in Scotland should grow up feeling safe, loved and respected. The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that robust child protection measures are in place across Scotland. Last year, we published updated national guidance for child protection. The Scottish Government engages regularly with local authorities on the implementation of consistent good practice on that critical issue. The national guidance implementation group was set up last September to lead on that activity. Education Scotland and the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland are both represented in that group.

Photo of Elizabeth Smith Elizabeth Smith Conservative

I am sure that the minister is aware of the article in the Perthshire edition of

The Courier on 5 September that reported a high absence rate among child protection committee members. The committee encompasses Perth and Kinross Council and NHS Tayside staff. Over two years, there were 148 apologies, with three members of the committee missing on 12, 11 and nine occasions respectively. What action will the Scottish Government take to impress on local authorities and health boards the importance of people turning up to such meetings, particularly at a time when we have so many vulnerable children who are desperate for our assistance?

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

Liz Smith raises an important point. Child protection and child safeguarding are everyone’s business, whether they are in education or health. I will certainly have my officials look into that and will come back to her in writing.

Photo of Jackie Dunbar Jackie Dunbar Scottish National Party

How can the Scottish Government be assured that the new national guidance for child protection is being implemented in schools? How is the Scottish Government ensuring that there is oversight of private music or dance lessons in schools and other settings?

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

Local authority schools, grant-aided special schools and independent schools were instructed to review and update their procedures in line with the 2021 national guidance. The national child protection guidance implementation group was established to support that implementation. A monitoring and evaluation sub-group is developing an approach to monitoring the extent and quality of guidance implementation. The multi-agency sub-group includes education.

On private music or dance lessons in schools, the 2021 national guidance describes the responsibilities and expectations of everyone who works with children and young people and their families in Scotland. It makes clear that those who are responsible for the organisation of activities, whether those are regulated or otherwise, must ensure that safeguarding is integral to the recruitment, training and oversight of staff and volunteers, and that children know how and with whom they can voice their questions and concerns.