In 2005 four suicide bombers murdered 52 people in a terror attack on London’s transport system. The coroner criticised the lack of communication between the police and ambulance services.
The government assured us all that lessons had been learnt.
In 2017 a suicide bomber murdered 22 people in a terror attack on Manchester Arena. The coroner criticised the lack of communication between the police and ambulance services.
We learn from the just-published inquiry report that, despite history repeating itself, men, women and children died because those lessons simply weren’t learnt and recommendations were ignored.
We commission reports; we spend millions; they make recommendations; we file them.
The results of another inquiry were recently published. Launched in response to the Jimmy Savile scandal, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse took nine years to conclude and makes 20 key recommendations to ensure the future safety of our children.
It would be a national tragedy if even one child suffers cruel and unnecessary harm because of our failure to enact those recommendations.
Schools play a pivotal role in the safety and well-being of the pupils in their care. Teachers are often the first to spot if there is something awry and, when they act, make a difference to what happens next.
Every school in the country should have a copy of this report. Every Head should read it. Every Head of Safeguarding should review policies in the light it sheds.
Here are those recommendations:
In the past there has sometimes been a reluctance on the part of staff to report misgivings without hard evidence of abuse. Schools must create an environment in which concerns are raised at the first hint of something wrong and the information acted on.
School leadership and governing bodies need to establish a system for reaching out to those who have suffered historical abuse, they must listen to their experiences and be prepared to accept past mistakes. Victims aren’t interested in the safe and nurturing environment of the current incarnation of their alma mater.
Today safeguarding is at the core of every school policy, but abuse still happens. It is the job of every one of us to do what we can to prevent it.
By Jane Tozer, who runs Paternoster’s schools’ communications team