The Chief Inspector of Ofsted has criticised schools for “wrapping children in cotton wool” with over-cautious safeguarding policies, which she claims are denying children the chance to learn resilience and limiting their experiences.
Ofsted inspectors will soon receive new training that Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman says she hopes will remind them “what safeguarding is really about”. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, she claimed the new training will ensure inspectors are not rewarding schools for “overbearing” policies.
“I want Ofsted to make sure that schools are properly focused on pupil safety but that it doesn’t come at the expense of opportunities to broaden and enrich young minds.”
Mrs Spielman criticised schools for matters such as dressing children in hi-vis jackets on school trips, or enforcing bans on conkers, stating that every minute spent focusing on these “imagined risks” obscures real safeguarding issues and “is a minute away from tackling a multitude of real issues we know schools face”.
Many schools and teaching staff have responded to the criticism, arguing that Ofsted would be the first to question what measures were in place to prevent risk if one of Mrs Spielman’s “imagined” incidents was to occur in their school. Others have expressed relief in the new policy, hoping it will encourage schools and nurseries to offer a more hands-on and adventure-oriented childhood experience.