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Final guidance tweaks

OFFICIALS ARE scaling down public progress reports on child protection recommendations contained in the Clywch Report, it was announced this week.

Final tweaks to new whistle-blowing guidance for schools that come into force this September were thrashed out this week two-and-a-half years later than expected. But education minister Carwyn Jones said officials were finally on top of the 31 recommendations that led to a shake-up of the way child abuse complaints are handled in schools.

And on the third anniversary of the report's publication, he said it was appropriate to report progress one last time.

Peter Clarke, who died of cancer in January, wanted guidelines dealing with whistle-blowing members of school staff drafted up quickly in his report. He had been outraged at the way child abuse allegations, made by teaching staff at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen, Pontypridd, in the 1890s and early 1990s had been handled during his probe.

He said pressure should be placed on school governors in the public and private sector to draw up whistle-blowing policies, and every teacher and non teaching member of staff should receive oral and written presentations on the new policies.

But education unions have so far condemned some of the other moves especially the farming out of pupil abuse complaints to a private company.

David Evans, secretary of the NUT Cymru, said: "When it was recommended that governing bodies should be helped by independent experts when allegations of abuse are made, it was estimated that this would involve some 20 or so cases each year.

"In fact, the number is much larger because too often the Dream Team, the contracted company, is called in whenever a complaint is made. In most cases the school's procedures can deal with it."

The Assembly government was asked to address 16 recommendations to tighten up on child procedure. Over the past three years, critics have complained at the delay in putting into place many of the 31 recommendations. Officials have said more time was needed to ensure they were rigorous enough.

In a statement released to mark the third anniversary this week, the minister said: "Given that responses to all of the recommendations are now being implemented, I do not propose further updates."

Another major recommendation, the setting up of a national school-based counselling service for young people, is still on the back-burner. A final draft strategy will be published at the the end of the year.

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