Skip to main content

Keeping children safe in education and Ofsted’s role

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: safeguarding

Periodically at Ofsted I become aware of misconceptions about inspection processes; what we look at and what people think is required by us. Currently there seems to be some confused chatter about our role in safeguarding. Ofsted has been inspecting safeguarding arrangements in schools since 2005 and from September 2015 we have been taking a consistent approach to inspecting safeguarding across all education provision.

Ofsted does not set the standards that schools and other education providers have to meet on safeguarding. Our job is to inspect against standards and statutory guidance set by the Department for Education (DfE). And it is the DfE’s statutory guidance that schools need to refer to. If a school’s safeguarding arrangements do not meet these requirements then at inspection we will judge them to be ineffective. This will lead to an overall inadequate judgement for the school.

Inspectors look at a wide range of evidence to inform their judgements about the effectiveness of safeguarding in schools. The main things our inspectors look at are:

  • the extent to which leaders, governors and managers create a positive culture and ethos where safeguarding is an important part of everyday life
  • the content of safeguarding policies and procedures, and how well these are applied in practice
  • how staff are supported to have a good understanding of safeguarding risks to children, and evidence that they know what to do if a child is at risk of harm
  • the quality of work that the school does with the local authority and other agencies, for example, in making referrals and supporting children who have a multi-agency plan in place
  • whether the proper recruitment checks have been carried out for staff, volunteers and governors
  • what children say about how safe they feel and how they are helped to understand safeguarding risks.

Our inspectors DO NOT:

  • have an Ofsted template or safeguarding checklist that schools are expected to comply with
  • promote particular products or safeguarding methods. The way each school approaches safeguarding will be determined by the school, according to local circumstances
  • have particular expectations on how a school should manage issues to do with site security, such as perimeter fences and access for members of the public, although we would expect risks to be properly considered and managed
  • make judgements lightly. We would not normally find safeguarding ineffective because of one shortcoming that we identify, unless is it a very serious breach of statutory requirements that leaves children at risk of harm.

There is no magic formula: safeguarding children in schools is about fostering a culture where children come first.

You can keep up-to-date with Ofsted news by signing up for email alerts. You can also follow Ofsted on Twitter and Sean on Twitter.

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by Peter Silverton posted on

    clear and precise - ofsted advisories seem to have stepped up in quality - not yet outstanding but certainly good

  2. Comment by Yuyell Safeguard posted on

    Thanks for Sharing a grateful information. This article and the blog helpful

  3. Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

    Thank you very much for your comments, I'm glad you found it useful.

  4. Comment by Michelle Davies posted on

    My daughters school are not making sure visitors sign in and out. They have also claimed to forge parents signatures on the visitors sheets without our consent! And the chair of govenors/safeguarding lead says they have not breached their safeguarding policy when it was pointed out to him that he would be liable of an offence if he did not report the teachers in question, he shrugged his shoulders. I gather that us because he is retiring this month and so does not care about this. Well I do and I am pretty sure other parents do too for the safety of their children.

  5. Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

    Hi, Ofsted always have regard to how well children are kept safe, and we will report on this under the leadership and management section of the report about whether the appropriate arrangements for safeguarding children are effective. This includes whether the setting’s premises provide a safe learning environment with secure access.

    If you wish to make a complaint about the safeguarding concerns in the school, you can follow the steps on

  6. Comment by Sue Heath posted on

    can any one out there please tell me what the ratio of adult - student supervision should be at break times

  7. Comment by External Relations posted on

    There is no specific guidance on adult – student ratios in school playgrounds, though rules do exist for early years provision. If you have concerns about a school and would like to make a complaint, please use the complaints process for raising your concerns with the relevant local authority, the Department for Education or with Ofsted. You can find further information and advice here: <a href=""></a&gt;

  8. Comment by Simon Brumby posted on

    Is there any specific guidance on minimum fence heights for school boundaries and playgrounds.?


  9. Comment by External Relations posted on

    Hi Simon, sorry, this isn't something Ofsted can advise on. It is for individual schools to determine whether their premises are suitably secure and to demonstrate to inspectors that they are keeping children safe. You could try the <a href="">Health and Safety Executive</a> (HSE) to see if this is something they can help you with.