Safeguarding and statutory requirements on residential yeshivas and seminaries, and residential holiday schemes: a quick review
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE IS BASED ON OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE LAW AS IT STANDS IN FEBRUARY 2019. IT IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE ON THE FACTS OF ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. NO LIABILITY IS ACCEPTED FOR ANY ADVERSE CONSEQUENCES OF RELIANCE ON THIS ARTICLE.
This post offers a quick overview of the statutory safeguarding duties of two particular types of residential settings:
- Residential holiday schemes
- Residential accommodation provided to post-16 young people, usually yeshivas or seminaries
Firstly, we need to understand which regulatory and inspection framework, if any, these provisions fall within. We have taken a good look at the regulatory frameworks for safeguarding inspections in an attempt to navigate and clarify matters.
First we looked at the various inspection services and what they are responsible for
- Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the inspectorate for care homes. Neither Yeshivas/seminaries nor holiday schemes are care settings.
- Schools Inspection Service (SIS) is an approved educational oversight body authorised by the UKVI section of the Home Office to inspect privately funded further education colleges in England, with a Steiner, Montessori or Eurythmy basis or background, or with a clear religious purpose. However it appears to us that they are only required to inspect yeshiva or seminary accommodation as part of their involvement in the Tier 4 visa programme for accepting international students. The Home Office commission SIS to do these checks on their behalf. There is no requirement for yeshivas or seminaries to register with SIS.
- OFSTED is responsible for childcare settings, schools, sixth form colleges and FE colleges. Ofsted inspects residential accommodation in holidays schemes accommodating disabled children, or colleges for students under 18, against the national minimum standards for social care. Since April 2017, these standards have become part of a wider Social Care Common Inspection Framework (SCCIF). Inspections of accommodation against the standards are for specific settings only (see below) Yeshivas/seminaries are not schools nor are holiday schemes (provided they don’t have more than 2 learning activities) – nor are Yeshivos/seminaries Further Education (FE) colleges – as FE colleges are defined as by section 91 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992
This SCCIF framework covers settings such as :
- fostering and adoption agencies
- boarding schools and residential special schools
- residential family centres
- residential holiday schemes for disabled children
- residential provision in further education colleges
- children’s homes, including secure children’s homes
Specifically the guidance states that these standards do not apply to organisations not covered by this list. In such cases the organisation itself is responsible for the welfare of the children.
So if yeshivas/seminaries with residential accommodation, and residential holiday programmes, are not required to register with the above-named regulators, what duties do they have?
All charities and services working with children have a legal ‘Duty of Care’ Safeguarding duties from Working Together (2018). The following extracts are relevant:
- Voluntary, charity, social enterprise (VCSE) and private sector organisations and agencies play an important role in safeguarding children through the services they deliver. Some of these will work with particular communities, with different races and faith communities and delivering in health, adult social care, housing, prisons and probation services. They may as part of their work provide a wide range of activities for children and have an important role in safeguarding children and supporting families and communities.
- Like other organisations and agencies who work with children, they should have appropriate arrangements in place to safeguard and protect children from harm. Many of these organisations and agencies as well as many schools, children’s centres, early years and childcare organisations, will be subject to charity law and regulated either by the Charity Commission or other “principal” regulators. Charity trustees are responsible for ensuring that those benefiting from, or working with, their charity, are not harmed in any way through contact with it. The Charity Commission for England and Wales provides guidance on charity compliance which should be followed
Over the last few months, the government has issued new guidance for Out of School Settings (OOSS) that they are presently consulting on. It would seem that yeshivas, seminaries and holiday schemes fall into this category.
The guidance makes specific reference to the range of Out of School settings stating ‘OOSS may also be delivered in a range of venues, from residential settings to much larger and more formal settings such as community and youth centres, sports clubs, and places of worship. Fees may or may not be charged, and some settings may be operating on a commercial basis.’
As an OOSS provider, you and your instructors will likely have a duty of care toward the children who attend your setting. This means that you will likely have a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of children who attend your setting, and to protect them from harm. The steps you take will probably look different according to the nature and characteristics of your setting (e.g. your size, the type of activity, tuition, training or instruction being offered, the physical location of the setting, hours of operation etc.). However, you should be able to satisfy yourself and parents that the children attending your settings will be safe in your care. This code is intended to be a voluntary resource for providers, to help you understand best practice for safeguarding and creating a safe environment for the children attending your settings
So it seems that residential yeshivas, seminaries and holiday schemes for children have no regulatory oversight for their accommodation. However they are legally duty bound to provide safe care . They could be held to account for this by both the charity commission (if a charity) and the local authority – who carry overall safeguarding responsibility for all children in their area. Organisations may wish to comply with the new voluntary code of practice for out of school settings so that they can ensure their safeguarding standards are satisfactory.
By Nava Kestenbaum