When I asked ERYC Chief Executive Caroline Lacey if any of the 63 settlement agreements with school based East Riding staff relates to a safeguarding issue. She avoided the question by stating:
“In response, I would begin by referring to my previous email to you dated 19 June 2018 where I said that, “entering into any settlement agreement with an employee does not compromise our responsibility to refer safeguarding cases to the Teaching Regulation Agency and/or the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), nor would it ever do so”. Our records indicate that none of the 63 settlement agreements referred to prompted any referral to either body.”
I did not ask if any where referred. I enquired if there was any safeguarding issue. Why was my question avoided?
I have requested a definitive statement from Caroline:
“Can you confirm that there are no safeguarding concerns with any of the 63 settlement agreements with school based staff?”
Settlement Agreements must not be used in cases that have any safeguarding implications, even if an employee proposes to resign before or during a disciplinary process.
This is because where there may be genuine grounds to believe that an individual is responsible for a breach of safeguarding rules, concluding matters via a settlement agreement would allow that individual to work at another school without any reference to the concern that was raised, which could obviously put others at risk in the future.
A settlement agreement (formerly known as compromise agreement) which prevents the school from making a DBS referral when the criteria for doing so are met would likely result in a criminal offence being committed as the school would not be complying with its legal duty to make the referral.
Are East Riding Children Safe?
In a local context 63 settlement agreements could have shocking consequences.
For example: A teacher who signed a settlement agreement may have breached safeguarding at say a Driffield School and could now be working at a Beverley School without the school in Beverley having any knowledge of the teachers past.
Is it possible for there to be 63 school based settlement agreements without safeguarding implications?